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Liberty VS Security
Posted by: Jon Henke on Sunday, February 12, 2006

The response to our recent posts on the National Journal story by Corine Hegland about the kangaroo trials and administration deception surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detainees has been extremely dispiriting. The "cry panic and let slip the exigencies of war" theme was sounded concisely by one DaveP. who wrote..
That’s what you’re proposing, like it or not. I ask you now: Will you stand proud at the September 11 Memorial and say, "They died for my inalienable right to call Al Quaeda on my cellphone!"?
They've decided that security and western values are opposing values and they'd just as soon do away with the latter. Apparently, when confronted with a direct challenge to western civilization and freedom, many people simply wet their pants and begged a big, strong President to save them from the bad guys. They've decided that security and western values are opposing values and they'd just as soon do away with the latter.

That's how freedom dies: a little bit at a time; for security.

Now, don't get me wrong. The demands of security are very real and very important. But those who insist on, for example, warrants for surveillance or better procedures for detainees are not opposed to strong security. We only insist that it ought to comport with our existing laws and values. Imagine, if you will, a murderous gang war in Los Angeles. Would we tolerate the police simply rounding up suspicious people found on troubled streets, throwing them in jail for years and arguing that, sure, they might not all be guilty, but enough of them are that we're better off just keeping them locked up. Because, sure they say they're innocent, but you never can tell and we're better off erring on the side of caution.

And you know what? Those who make that argument might be absolutely right on the net effect of such a roundup. It may, in fact, reduce the number of murders on the streets. How much easier is it to cut down on crime when you don't have to bother with all those troublesome safeguards like due process, probable cause and congressional or judicial oversight. I mean, really, those of you who insist on prior restraint of the police are just contributing to the murder of thousands. Steven Den Beste makes just such a statistical "we can't be bothered to judge these things on their merits" argument here. It's disheartening, to say the least.

Except, of course, we don't make that argument domestically, because we do believe there's value in restraint of government; we do believe that unrestrained police power can be worse than the marginal security it might bring; we do believe that justice is valuable in itself. And we don't believe that just because the Constitution says we have to; our Constitution says that because we believe it.
Just as in the Cold War, our success in the War on Terror depends in large part on the ultimate moral and human superiority of our western values.
But a lot of people seem to believe that we can either win dirty, or lose with "moral vanity". I reject that. This is not a binary choice. It's entirely possible to win with our moral values intact; it's also possible to lose while playing dirty. In fact, I believe that abandoning our western values makes losing even more likely. Just as in the Cold War, our success in the War on Terror depends in large part on the ultimate moral and human superiority of our western values.

Divider



Nor do we, as one commenter suggested, demand "100% perfection and 100% transparency". We understand that every human venture is subject to human error. But the problems at Guantanamo Bay are not the result of unavoidable human error. They are the result of gross negligence, of apathy and perhaps even malfeasance. And those actions have been covered up by blatant dishonesty.

Commenters spent much of their time trying to find holes in the National Jounal story, variously suggesting that the story was simply based on the claims of the defense attorney's involved (false), or that we the files on which the stories were based were only the defense side of the story and didn't contain the charges against them. (also false) Mostly, they demonstrated that they did not, in fact, read the stories.

Others argued that, hey, they're enemy combatants, so they deserve what they get. That, too, is false...
At least eight prisoners at Guantanamo are there even though they are no longer designated as enemy combatants. One perplexed attorney, whose client does not want public attention, learned that the man was no longer considered an enemy combatant only by reading a footnote in a Justice Department motion asking a federal judge to put a slew of habeas corpus cases on hold. The attorney doesn't know why the man is still in Cuba.
Read this entire story for a good idea of just how irresponsible the government was willing to be. For example...
A Yemeni, whom somebody fingered as a bin Laden bodyguard, finally said in exasperation during one long interrogation, "OK, I saw bin Laden five times: Three times on Al Jazeera and twice on Yemeni news." And now his "admission" appears in his enemy combatant's file: "Detainee admitted to knowing Osama bin Laden."
Finally, many defend the operation, because, hey, they're the bad guys, so, you know, the hell with 'em. That, as Brendan Loy remarks, is a thoroughly bad argument...
It is rarely, if ever, a good idea to premise an otherwise objectionable policy on the idea that it will only affect "bad guys." This report, if true, is a classic demonstration of why this is so. Life isn't neat and tidy, especially not during wartime. So it would be unreasonable to expect that we're only going to get "bad guys," let alone only the really bad guys. That's why we need oversight, accountability and transparency — because mistakes are inevitable, and our very core ideals require that we correct those mistakes when they happen. Pretending that there won't be mistakes, and therefore we don't need corrective procedures, is sheer folly.
a great many soi disant conservative and libertarian bed-wetters have been only too happy to embrace an all-powerful government when the mood strikes
You would think that the Right would understand this — Conservatism and libertarianism is, after all, based on distrust of government — but a great many soi disant conservative and libertarian bed-wetters have been only too happy to embrace an all-powerful government when the mood strikes. As Glenn Greenwald put it..
As much as any policy prescriptions, conservatism has always been based, more than anything else, on a fundamental distrust of the power of the federal government and a corresponding belief that that power ought to be as restrained as possible, particularly when it comes to its application by the Government to American citizens. It was that deeply rooted distrust that led to conservatives’ vigorous advocacy of states’ rights over centralized power in the federal government, accompanied by demands that the intrusion of the Federal Government in the lives of American citizens be minimized.
[...]
We need no oversight of the Federal Government’s eavesdropping powers because we trust Bush to eavesdrop in secret for the Good. We need no judicial review of Bush’s decrees regarding who is an "enemy combatant" and who can be detained indefinitely with no due process because we trust Bush to know who is bad and who deserves this. We need no restraints from Congress on Bush’s ability to exercise war powers, even against American citizens on U.S. soil, because we trust Bush to exercise these powers for our own good.

The blind faith placed in the Federal Government, and particularly in our Commander-in-Chief, by the contemporary "conservative" is the very opposite of all that which conservatism has stood for for the last four decades. The anti-government ethos espoused by Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan is wholly unrecognizable in Bush followers, who – at least thus far – have discovered no limits on the powers that ought to be vested in George Bush to enable him to do good on behalf of all of us.
Corine Hegland's National Journal story is well-researched, thorough and deeply troubling. It is important. I can understand concerns, like those expressed by Glenn Reynolds, about the reliability of this story, but if you look into all three stories, you'll find it remarkably solid.

Years from now, Democrats may stand up and say they resisted Bush-era encroachments on our liberties. I hope that Republicans can do the same. This is not a game of Republicans vs Democrats, and our skepticism of big government ought not sleep during war or Republican administration's.

This attitude of "there's a problem, so we must sacrifice liberty to solve it" is precisely what led us to the current state of government that conservatives and libertarians dislike so much. It can still lead us to many worse places.
 
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Now, don’t get me wrong. The demands of security are very real and very important. But those who insist on, for example, warrants for surveillance or better procedures for detainees are not opposed to strong security.
No, that’s true.
But it’s also true that it invariably ends up working out as less security. The question is a balance point, not an absolute.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Jon is the only sane guy at QandO. Fear-mongering to get us to wet our pants over Iraq’s "weapons of mass destruction" got us into this Police State.

We have met the enemy and he is us. -Pogo
 
Written By: poli
URL: http://
particularly when it comes to its application by the Government to American citizens.
Which the detainees aren’t. As a result, I’m not overly concerned about their well-being, other than I do not wish them to be tortured for torture’s sake or killed to cover up bureaucratic errors. Keeping them detained and healthy for extended periods just doesn’t bother me. It could and should bother their home countries, whom should be the ones interested in seeing their release.

As for the NSA intercepts that the you’re wetting your pants over, I don’t care who they listen to gain military intelligence as long as the information obtained isn’t permissible in a US court of law against US citizens if it was obtained without a proper warrant.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Jon, let me cut this Gordian-knot for you.

A majoritarian (pragmatic) Libertarian can support a strong, elected Executive in times of war, without contradicting any principles. The checks of regular Presidential elections and term limits preserve individual autonomy by seeking regular direction from autonomous, voting citizens.

It’s a non-majoritarian (authoritarian) Libertarian\ that tends to choke on the notion of a strong, elected executive during war. Any communal, national concerns, like the integrity of our nation’s civil defenses, take a back seat to the realization of all their "freedoms."

Which leads me to conclude that the distinction between nationalistic libs and non- (or trans-) nationalistic ones may be the cause of the irony that sparks your post.

Some Libs acknowledge that the robust shell of the small ’r’ republican nation-state allows us to live close to our libertarian ideals while protectin us from the fear that extra-national players can reach in and impact those liberties (ex. non-nationals attempting to manipulate our electorate with terrorism).

Others deny the power of the state altogether. These Lib’s, I think, are too preoccupied battling America’s ruling majority to respond cogently to the dangers on the international stage.

When Bush pulls a Chavez, suspends the ’06 congressional elections, and ships Susan Surandon to Abu Ghraib prison, then let’s raise a fuss. Till then, Poli and Jon, noone’s stopping you from voting for Hillary in ’08.
-Steve
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
(Nod)
Not bad, Steve.
Not bad at all.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
“Jon is the only sane guy at QandO.”
Now that just isn’t true, if you include commenters. You can read another touchy-feely, NYT quoting, Cindy Sheehan loving, fan of calling wingers “bed-wetters”, Greenwald-Kool Aid drinker here – we now have Mona! They are the ones who must re-state that they really are libertarians despite their comments and links on the particular subject at hand. Most everyone else flies under their true colors [is that a mixed metaphor?].
I love it when liberals talk tough. And it is a pleasure to see them having fun calling the wingers “bedwetters” and wimps. I agree. I know I don’t have the courage to free those held in Guantanamo and face the relatives of those who die horribly as a result. I know that Jon didn’t actually SAY that he was willing to sign the order releasing them, but then what else could he mean by his post? [Ever dance outside the fence around the lions at the zoo?]
I, for one, am sick of the whining. Just sign the never-to-be-classified “Open List Of Those Demanding Freedom For Those Currently Held At Guantanamo” [include your SSN and current address] and let the lions out. Perhaps Jon is right and they will graze peacefully between the walking lanes. If they don’t....well, at least we were morally right. Any resulting casualties died for the American dream. We can just increase the deficit and pay their surviving families large sums to be quiet. And put their children through school. And... It is the morally right thing to do....I hope none of those released are the ones with the key to the WMD locker in Syria or its equivalent. Oh well, no one ever said there wasn’t a price to be paid for moral rectitude.
I’ll just put on my “Depends” and keep hoping that those whose responsibility it is to make these decisions know that I understand where the buck stops.
Well, maybe that isn’t fair. OK. Let’s also have a List Of Those Who Want To Shoot Off Their Mouth About Morality But Don’t Want To Be Responsible. The can post on blogs and demonstrate and make speeches for the release of those held They just can’t call any wingers “bedwetters”. That not only covers everyone, but is a great set-up line for a creative responder.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
Till then, Poli and Jon, noone’s stopping you from voting for Hillary in ’08.
Great..., Just Great.
Then her administration will have the power to spy on me with no oversight.
Just f*ckin Great.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Now that just isn’t true, if you include commenters. You can read another touchy-feely, NYT quoting, Cindy Sheehan loving, fan of calling wingers "bed-wetters", Greenwald-Kool Aid drinker here - we now have Mona! They are the ones who must re-state that they really are libertarians despite their comments and links on the particular subject at hand.
Bob ... sometimes you just come across as an idiot.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
"balance point" - Yes, there are times when it must be a balancing act between protecting our freedoms and defending our people. It would be irresponsible for the government not to intercept communications from high risk sources. And it is not at all difficult to foresee a situation where there are mere moments to try and stop a devastating terrorist event. To wait an hour or even five minutes for a warrant when there may be a hundred thousand lives at stake is not in the interest of liberty. An event thusly suffered will in the long run be much more damaging to our freedom.

But, I guess we can all just chant there ain’t no such thing as wmd. There, now we’re safe. WMD exist. The people who want to deliver it exist. To deny reality is insane.
 
Written By: tjDave
URL: http://TalkJunkie.com
I kinda like Notherbob, McQ. My house-hold is full right now, but if he needed a home I’d adopt him.:-)

Yeah, he rambled a bit above - he probably posted a comment without first thinking it out, but we all do it on occasion.

With Iran’s nuclear push, Russia battling southern Islamists, and Arabia’s illiberal "cartoon jihad" in the news, the stakes are high. This, combined with the fact that the moonbats seem to have a hold of the media-megaphone, is enough to drive a man to drink.
-Steve
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
"Bob ... sometimes you just come across as an idiot."
Er, does that mean I am in the club?
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
I kinda like Notherbob, McQ.
I like Bob too, Steve. It’s just when he resorts to trying to describe the motives of others, and thus their "bona fides" based on those motives, that I tune out.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Er, does that mean I am in the club?
Maybe it’s more like you should be clubbed. ;)
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
To be free is not merely a matter of convienience (or a feel good thing), it is generally better for the growth of the economy. To operate a successful economy it is required that experimentation and argument take place so that innovation can occur. To have a large organisation in existance that monitors free discourse and may arbitarily detain some offenders limits argument and can have a negative impact on general growth.

However in a conflict it is required that growth is focused on useful applications and dissent can be harmful. The enemy must be stopped before they do greater damage than the action taken to stop them.

Therefore the wiretaps are a good thing, as long as they are confined to the conflict and limited to the period of conflict. If they are used to endanger the free speech of those who mean you no harm they are bad, but this badness must be weighed against the greater good during the conflict. To maintain control over the scope and period of the wiretaps requires third party supervision.

 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
It would be irresponsible for the government not to intercept communications from high risk sources. And it is not at all difficult to foresee a situation where there are mere moments to try and stop a devastating terrorist event. To wait an hour or even five minutes for a warrant when there may be a hundred thousand lives at stake is not in the interest of liberty.
Nobody here — absolutely nobody — is arguing that we should not conduct this surveillance. I’m not sure how much more clear I can make this, but I’ll try: if you argue that we’re trying to protect the right of US citizens to talk to al Qaeda undetected, then you’ve completely misunderstood or misrepresented what I’ve written.

The fact is that FISA allows ex post facto warrant applications. If you think 3 days is insufficient time to fill out a warrant application, then they should ask that it be extended — or they should hire additional lawyers to do the paperwork. Congress even asked the administration post-9/11 if they wanted to amend FISA to help the process. The administration said FISA was fine as is.

This is a very simple question: should the administration 1) do domestic surveillance without a warrant or judicial overview, or 2) do the exact same domestic surveillance with a warrant and judicial overview?

There is simply no reason why it cannot be done with a warrant (or by having FISA amended to allow for any unusual technological problems)
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon, well said, and let me modify your spot-on comment only slightly, my modification bolded:

This is a very simple question: should the administration 1) do domestic surveillance without a warrant or judicial overview in violation of the law, or 2) do the exact same domestic surveillance with a warrant and judicial overview in compliance with the law?

There is simply no reason why it cannot be done with a warrant (or by having FISA amended to allow for any unusual technological problems)


But then, I’m just a faux libertarian who recently learned, by reading comments here, that she adores Cindy Sheehan. No one, including me, had previously known! Last I checked I despised Hugo Chavez, but that can’t be right, not given that he is my idol Cindy’s main squeeze.

It’s not easy lovin’ Cindy....
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
It’s just when he resorts to trying to describe the motives of others, and thus their "bona fides" based on those motives, that I tune out.
Then, surely you stopped reading Henke’s post right after:

"Apparently, when confronted with a direct challenge to western civilization and freedom, many people simply wet their pants and begged a big, strong President to save them from the bad guys."

Of course, I guess he could just be overcompensating after that whole "nancy-boy" fiasco on the torture thread last year.
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
"When Bush pulls a Chavez, suspends the ’06 congressional elections, and ships Susan Surandon to Abu Ghraib prison, then let’s raise a fuss"
It’s a little too late, then. I am sadly amused by those who think that giving more power to those in charge is a great idea when their people are in power, but raise a big fuss when that same power is "misused" when the opposition is in power.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
This is a very simple question: should the administration 1) do domestic surveillance without a warrant or judicial overview, or 2) do the exact same domestic surveillance with a warrant and judicial overview?
There is simply no reason why it cannot be done with a warrant (or by having FISA amended to allow for any unusual technological problems)
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Well no they should not be allowed however, we are not talking about domestic surveillance ie...Law enforcement, we are talking about INTEL gathering BIG DIFFERENCE but then you knew that did’nt you.

"Apparently, when confronted with a direct challenge to western civilization and freedom, many people simply wet their pants and begged a big, strong President to save them from the bad guys."

No alot of us joined the Armed forces and went and made the bad guys wet their pants that is why we have not been attacked in four years. Your whole article is a steaming pile of CRAP.
 
Written By: Oldcrow
URL: http://
Years from now, Democrats may stand up and say they resisted Bush-era encroachments on our liberties. I hope that Republicans can do the same. This is not a game of Republicans vs Democrats, and our skepticism of big government ought not sleep during war or Republican administration’s.
My a$$ years from now we will wake up and bumb our heads against the prayer rug, if we go the way you want we will be defeated in this war this is about survival of our way of life and throughout our history the executive has exorcised its powers and after the war was over we went back to normal. Yes I know the war on terror may last for decades well so did the cold war. The Democrats skepticism of big government? Are you friggin insane? Here is what the DEMS think about our liberties and big government:

"When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans. And so a lot of people say there’s too much personal freedom. When personal freedom’s being abused, you have to move to limit it. That’s what we did in the announcement I made last weekend on the public housing projects, about how we’re going to have weapon sweeps and more things like that to try to make people safer in their communities."
President William Jefferson Clinton 3-22-94

"If the personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution inhibit the government’s ability to govern the people, we should look to limit those guarantees."
William Jefferson Clinton, August 12, 1993

"The United States can’t be so fixed on our desire to preserve the rights of
ordinary Americans..."
William Jefferson Clinton, March 1, 1993

"We can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans ..."
President William Jefferson Clinton USA Today March 11, 1993

"The Constitution is a radical document... it is the job of the government to rein in people’s rights."
President William Jefferson Clinton on MTV – 1992

"We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society."
Hillary Clinton, 1993

"If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an out right ban, picking up every one of them... "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in, "I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here."
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), CBS-TV’s "60 Minutes," 2/5/95 ; 8/1/99


This attitude of "there’s a problem, so we must sacrifice liberty to solve it" is precisely what led us to the current state of government that conservatives and libertarians dislike so much. It can still lead us to many worse places.
What liberty have we sacrificed exactly? How has the INTEL collection program that targets people getting calls from outside the US from suspected AQ affialtes sacrificed your liberty? Answer it has not, you are an hysterical drama queen my friend and you are getting in bed with a political party that does not believe in any libertarian beliefs, thier sole purpose for raising this issue is to attack the political party currently in power so they can gain that power and you are deluding yourself if you think they really care about your liberties.
 
Written By: Oldcrow
URL: http://
Mona, you still defy categorization in my book, and that’s a compliment.

Jon asked:
Should the administration 1) do domestic surveillance without a warrant or judicial overview, or 2) do the exact same domestic surveillance with a warrant and judicial overview?
Good question, Jon. But, rephrased to add context, the question becomes less compelling:
Should an elected administration intercept electronic messages from international terrorists to domestic persons to protect America from a devastating terror attack?
Still, I’ll answer the original and add two caveats.

The administration should get a warrant where the situation isn’t time-sensitive. But in cases where time doesn’t allow for a lengthy warrant process, the administration should practice its "inherent authority" and decide for itself.

Two caveats: that executive (or her party) must make its case in front of the voters in regular elections, and the lawyer for any American citizen fingered by this surveillance is free to challenge the propriety of the Executives’s decision during the trial.

These caveats have been met to this Lib’s satisfaction. There is plenty of citizen oversight from where I stand.
-Steve

 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
Seems antagonism to the administration’s surveillance program relies on detaching the debate from our nation’s democratic processes.

The Curmudgeonly Clerk discusses some Libertarian views on Judicial Review and fear of the "tyranny of majority, that might help, Jon. In this post he makes my point for me:*

"The process of organized, fair elections renders our system of government so unalike from absolute kingship that to characterize the functioning of majoritarianism as being tyrannical utterly disregards the former’s process-based freedom. It is the difference between me running a meeting and me presiding over a meeting run by those in attendance in congruence with Robert’s Rules of Order."

Viewed in this context, the issue loses its bite, quick.
-Steve
* I rarely agree with this guy but he was the first blogger I’ve seen confront the Libertarian fear of Majority-rule.
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
Bithead, it does usually work out to less security. But I’ve given up on this debate. Instead, I’ll wait for what it has historically taken in this country to get it serious: two or three major attacks, analogous to what happened in WWII with Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Wake, etc., with a casualty count of 50,000 plus. At that point, we’ll finally wake up, realize that being too nice buys us nothing, and loose the dogs of WARRE. And that blood will be right on the hands of the people, from Kos to Jon, who just don’t think that the lives of their fellow citizens, let alone family and neighbors, are worth getting their hands dirty.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Good question, Jon. But, rephrased to add context, the question becomes less compelling:

Should an elected administration intercept electronic messages from international terrorists to domestic persons to protect America from a devastating terror attack?
Funny, but in responding to my last two paragraphs, you seem to have skipped over the first two. Your rephrasing took my question eliminated all the parts that are actually relevant or in debate. I repeat:
Nobody here — absolutely nobody — is arguing that we should not conduct this surveillance. I’m not sure how much more clear I can make this, but I’ll try: if you argue that we’re trying to protect the right of US citizens to talk to al Qaeda undetected, then you’ve completely misunderstood or misrepresented what I’ve written.

The fact is that FISA allows ex post facto warrant applications. If you think 3 days is insufficient time to fill out a warrant application, then they should ask that it be extended — or they should hire additional lawyers to do the paperwork. Congress even asked the administration post-9/11 if they wanted to amend FISA to help the process. The administration said FISA was fine as is.
Yes, they should conduct surveillance for national security. If you’re unsure and want to ask that insipid question again, please keep reading this comment until you’ve comprehended it.
What liberty have we sacrificed exactly? How has the INTEL collection program that targets people getting calls from outside the US from suspected AQ affialtes sacrificed your liberty? Answer it has not
Ah, the old "you have nothing to worry about if you’re not guilty" dodge.
My a$$ years from now we will wake up and bumb our heads against the prayer rug, if we go the way you want we will be defeated in this war this is about survival of our way of life and throughout our history the executive has exorcised its powers and after the war was over we went back to normal.

Because, if we have to get warrants to conduct domestic surveillance, then we won’t win? If you believe that, you are a fool.
But then, I’m just a faux libertarian who recently learned, by reading comments here, that she adores Cindy Sheehan.
Yeah, apparently "skepticism of government" is one thing, but "skepticism of the Bush administration" is an altogether separate matter.

I’ve been arguing for awhile that Democratic discussions about Republican corruption are misguided — the problem is not "Republicans", per se, so much as it is the general structure of government. The problem is inherent, not partisan. This is precisely the same argument I’m making in this post — but, for some reason, readers seem to be much more comfortable when that argument is deployed against Democrats.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"This attitude of "there’s a problem, so we must sacrifice liberty to solve it" is precisely what led us to the current state of government that conservatives and libertarians dislike so much. It can still lead us to many worse places"
So why are you advocating the same thing?


"Good question, Jon. But, rephrased to add context, the question becomes..."

That is sometimes called changing the subject.

"Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose"
One of the few advantages of age is that it gives you experience and a different perspective on things(if you are paying attention). I have heard most of these arguments before, used to justify , among other things, the My Lai massacre. I have also heard most of the ad hominem attacks, non sequiturs and, my favourite, the fallacy of the excluded middle. Hysterical statements that we will all die or be enslaved if we don’t do this or that are only amusing for a short time. Do try to maintain a certain rationality. Choices in life are rarely between absolutes.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I am at a loss to understand why so many so called conservatives can defend what’s going on at Gitmo.

I believe what’s going on there - and probably other detention centers around the world - is happening because to our complete and everlasting shame, we have failed to define the rights of these people being held.

The Department of Justice, Defense, the Congress, and the White House are all at odds on just how to treat these prisoners. They shot themselves in the foot originally when they decided that the Geneva Convention would not be applicable even though they would be treated under its auspices (whatever the hell that means). And now we’re stuck with this nightmare system that not only imprisons probably innocent people but makes it easy to justify torture and mistreatment because guidelines are so loose.

The only possible explanation is that the Administration is afraid of the political fallout that will accrue if the truth ever comes out. Well, the truth is coming out and its time for them to pay the piper.

One minor point: I think there are a lot more people on the right that are with you on this than you might realize. The desire to fully investigate the NSA intercept program is picking up a some steam, although without knowing the technical details I find it difficult to be as certain as Bob Barr about the program’s illegality (or as certain as Hinderaker’s contention that it is absolutely legal). And there are plenty of conservatives who object to the torture of prisoners - John Cole and Andrew Sullivan come to mind immediately.

You are not alone by a long shot. Don’t be discouraged by your commenters who, at least on my site, tend to be a lot less thoughtful about these issues than you.

Rick Moran
 
Written By: superhawk
URL: http://www.rightwingnuthouse.blogspot.com
Ah, the old "you have nothing to worry about if you’re not guilty" dodge.
Written By: Jon Henke
No that is not what I am saying but even if I was so what? Let me ask you if the FBI wiretapped your phone without a warrant and then arrested you what would happen? The case would be thrown out thats what. So lets take that to the NSA program lets say that you get a call from a public telephone in Pakistan from a number that is tied to an AQ cell there and the NSA listens in on it, they determine it is not connected to AQ and delete the INFO. How does that affect you liberty? And remember the NSA program is a TS SCI program so the people who have access to it is extremely limited.

Because, if we have to get warrants to conduct domestic surveillance, then we won’t win? If you believe that, you are a fool.
Written By: Jon Henke
No but a lot more people will die in the process, the whole problem with most people who take this attitude is they don’t think about the modern world were terrorists can get WMD and smuggle them into this country. If you don’t believe that can happen you are the fool. Genetic engineering, modern physics and state sponsors of terrorism have created a situation were it no longer takes a nation states resources to acquire these. So imagine a Nuke or bio terror attack in downtown NY it would do an incredible amount of damage to this country both economicaly and casualties, you better get it through your head we are not dealing with the same old war between nations anymore.
 
Written By: Oldcrow
URL: http://
Okay, almost 100% Perfection, because if there is any single error it goes to the heart of innocent until proven guilty and guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Or would you be willing to advise what level of error you would find acceptable when picking up people in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Take for instance your Yemeni who saw Bin Laden on TV. Okay, we have his word, Scout’s Honor, that he only saw Bin Laden on TV. What if there is other evidence that say’s he lying? Consider he was not picked up in Cancun Mexico on a cruise ship...so one possible error in his file brings you guys to say the whole system is flawed.

100% Transparency: This is my real criticism of your criticism, so to speak, and it’s the toughest problem I see with dealing with any potential grievances. In the above example, there might be other evidence against the Yemeni...where is it? For example, should we reveal that his cell phone number was in Sheikh Khalid’s roster to make the critics feel better? Or let’s say he wasn’t even part of AQ but was trying to enter Afghanistan independently to do jihad...do we let that guy go?

I would not want anyone held in Gitmo that doesn’t need to be there, but I am worried about using your evidence that is not necessarily the whole story. (and notice that there have been many releases so it’s not as if this gulag doesn’t let anyone go ever.) If this is an issue of better tribunals, and administrative overhaul, or an oversight committee, I would support those measures. However, I’m pretty sure that will not stop the criticisms.

See, for example, the whole Prisoner 063 section...that was not convincing that there was a problem at all, but was written in a way that makes you feel sympathy for a lying wannabe mass murdering terrorist (or I guess I could be wrong, and he’s just one of Atta’s good guy buddies who likes faclons in Afghanistan during wartime...)

What we need to see is reviews of how the system works when they release people, and how it doesn’t work when they release those who go back to the fight (false negatives.)

But the false postives (innocents who were mistakenly picked up in the war zone) will be the hardest to sort out because the nature of the enemy to not wear uniforms, to use Arab NGO’s, and to lie about their motives to be in Afghanistan or Pakistan (finding a wife/working for a charity are the top excuses.) And with secret evidence, the outside observer ends up with two choices:

Trust the government (shudder.)

Trust the prisoner and their lawyers (shudder.)

Maybe QandO could go over the story of a more famous Gitmo guy like Hicks and see where both sides stand?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
FISA warrants

1. While I have heard a lot about 3 day retroactive warrants, I have also read it can take months for approval, and the form can run 80 pages. If you go beyond 3 days then you have to stop, no? What about long week-ends, etc....Do we really want that much bureacracy for military intel? In my experience with the government many things cannot be done within 3 days and let alone with people filing the forms from God knows where.

I’d like more information about how FISA courts really work. If it really a super efficien McDonald’s drive through, then fine. Use it if only to keep the Dems from having a weapon in 2006 (despite not saying anything in 2001-2004.)

2. If other president’s in war time did not need FISA, and your law team says you don’t either, AND you brief FISA court and Congressional leaders....uhhhh, why would I want to apply for warrants that I don’t need? Should cops apply for 3 day retroactive warrants for searches covered by probable cause? You know, just to make the paperwork look good and people to feel their civil liberties are safer?

(Personally, I am more worried about the police than the NSA.)
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Then her administration will have the power to spy on me with no oversight.
Now perhaps, you better understand why it is so critical to have people of character in positions of power. As opposed to the Clintons, for example.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Nobody here — absolutely nobody — is arguing that we should not conduct this surveillance. I’m not sure how much more clear I can make this, but I’ll try: if you argue that we’re trying to protect the right of US citizens to talk to al Qaeda undetected, then you’ve completely misunderstood or misrepresented what I’ve written.
I don’t suppose it’s occurred to you, that the fastest way to get secret information out to somebody you don’t want it possessed by , is to give it two congressmen who are desperate for any foothold they can find to get themselves back into power?

The kind of oversight are demanding would place secret information into the hands of what is probably the worst group of people to hand such information to; Congress.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Okay, I read the article. Pretty weak article that quotes a bunch of defense lawyers and cherry picks some data points (out of 132 prisoners they get maybe 8-10 stories? but some of this jibes with what I read about Gitmo getting a lot of prisoners in 2002. (The Interrogators) But again, this has to do with a fluid battlefield and having a new system in place. Early 2002 is only 6 months removed from 9/11.

Another criticism from the stories is that the prisoners are "only" low level types...well, even so, they are battlefield detainees. "Oh, sarge, this guys only a private in the Waffen SS, I guess we shouldn’t keep him in a camp or anything."

My suggestion would be as follows:

3 tiers of camps

Tier 3 for any undetermined individuals. (people caught by proxy forces with little evidence against them.)
Tier 2 for low level fighters.
Tier 1 for mid to high level targets who will need heavy interrogation.
(Tier 0 is of course the CIA waterboarding facility. Shhhhhhh.)

Separate the camps geographically. This is mainly to prevent the media and lawyers from writing the kinds of stories we just read..."They said they are the worst of the worst, but actually 2 out 3 are low level agents."

Tier 3 camps would be much better facilities with visitation rights, lawyers, etc. but perhaps with a minimum detention period of 2 years or so to make sure the detained really are not dangerous.

Also, please note that the system IS partially working when the assigned officer for Tumani caught the potential problem with the snitch. But was there other evidence? We don’t know. That’s transparency problem..without 100% transparency you will never know for sure if justice was served or not.

p.s. I give props to QandO who have made me think a little harder on this issue. I just would like more information to be make a better judgement.








 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
No but a lot more people will die in the process, the whole problem with most people who take this attitude is they don’t think about the modern world were terrorists can get WMD and smuggle them into this country. If you don’t believe that can happen you are the fool.
You’re going to have to explain to me how covertly surveilling people without warrants will saves thousands of lives, while covertly surveilling those same people with warrants will allow thousands to die. (bearing in mind that warrants can be filed ex post facto, and FISA can be amended if there’s insufficient time)
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
You’re going to have to explain to me how covertly surveilling people without warrants will saves thousands of lives, while covertly surveilling those same people with warrants will allow thousands to die.


Haven’t you been watching 24 jon ;)

It’s easier to beg forgiveness then permission...

I support what the administration has described as the purpose of the NSA program. I also believe that they have the Constitutional and legal authority for doing it. I also would be happy for an appropriate investigation, legislation, or court action to be taken to prove it. I’ve also agreed that the appropriate checks and balances should be in place on all such government programs.



If a quick wiretap leads to a dead-end, should a warrant still be sought for it?
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Every once in a while, Henke, a blind pig finds an acorn. You’re exactly right about just about all of it, except for this:
"Years from now, Democrats may stand up and say they resisted Bush-era encroachments on our liberties."
They might say that at some point, but you can bet that they’ll be hypocrites when they do. The Republicans — and everyone supporting them in this — are building a machine that their opponents will someday inherit.
 
Written By: Biilly Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Search warrants are issued to regulate the process of searching, to limit the government’s intrusions. Results are irrelevant.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I ran across this earlier today and thought I’d throw this out, in case anyone actually is still reading this "old" thread. In 2000, conservatives were up in arms that the FISA court had even been created, because its warrents were given in secret. Now, with a Republican administration, the conservative call to arms is that this very same FISA court is too restrictive??

http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3a27337612f5.htm
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
It’s entirely possible to win with our moral values intact; it’s also possible to lose while playing dirty. In fact, I believe that abandoning our western values makes losing even more likely. Just as in the Cold War, our success in the War on Terror depends in large part on the ultimate moral and human superiority of our western values.
hear, hear!

People seem to forget that it was not ultimately our foreign policy or our military might that brought the downfall of the Soviet Union, but the ultimate failure and inferiority of their economic system. To change who we are in response to some external entity only affirms what our enemies would themselves claim, that our system is fundamentally flawed.

The virulent mindset of fundamentalist Islam is a self-defeating one. In the marketplace of ideas, it will ultimately fail. While we should certainly seek to hasten its demise and limit its ability to do us harm, we must not pretend that it is some sort of grand threat to civilization. To suggest that civilization could be brought to its knees by a bunch of ragtag fundamentalist is an insult to western civilization and an unearned praise to the strength of those who oppose us.

Those who claim otherwise tend to be, at least by my observation, the same old cold warriors who are looking for a new war to fight and a way to make themselves relevant in a world that has moved beyond them.

If we give up who we are in the name of defeating them, then we will have lost. Our enemies need only sit back and watch as we destroy ourselves from within.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://

 
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