If you’re faced with this question — should President X have the power to impose Punishment Y on Bad Person Z? — and you answer in the affirmative based on your adoration for or trust in current President X, or your belief in the wisdom and justness of Punishment Y in the specific proposed case, or your acute scorn for Bad Person Z, you’re actually doing much more than ratifying this power in a single instance, even if that’s the limit of your intention. Whether desired or not, you’re affirming — and entrenching — the legitimacy of the principle itself, ensuring that this power will be exploited in ways you can’t control. When enshrined without checks, the endorsed punishment power will inevitably — necessarily — endure, and even grow, beyond the reign of the leader you trust to future leaders you don’t, and will be applied against not only those you believe are deserving of it but those you know are not.
— Glenn Greenwald (Salon), referring to “limitless, secret surveillance, and torture, and due-process-free and oversight-less citizen assassinations ordered in the dark, and indefinite detention, and extra-judicial killings carried out by drones”
by Norman Horowitz
Ya got trouble, folks, right here in River City
With a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’
And that stands for ‘pool’
— The Music Man
I know it’s an arcane notion that we are, in theory, a nation of laws.
Due process, to name but one, is guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment:
No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…
And the Fourteenth Amendment:
No State shall…deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Due process generally requires fairness in government proceedings. A person is entitled to notice and opportunity to be heard at a hearing when they have life, liberty, or property at stake. Continue reading “Ya Got Trouble, Folks!”
What will we say when other governments follow our example by providing immunity from prosecution to torturers on the basis of phony, made-to-order legal memos?
— Peter Weiss (Center for Constitutional Rights)
The Cost of Bin Laden: $3 Trillion Over 15 Years — Tim Fernholz & Jim Tankersley
What do we have to show for that tab? Two wars that continue to occupy 150,000 troops and tie up a quarter of our defense budget; a bloated homeland-security apparatus that has at times pushed the bounds of civil liberty; soaring oil prices partially attributable to the global war on bin Laden’s terrorist network; and a chunk of our mounting national debt, which threatens to hobble the economy unless lawmakers compromise on an unprecedented deficit-reduction deal.
All of that has not given us, at least not yet, anything close to the social or economic advancements produced by the battles against America’s costliest past enemies.
What If Bin Laden Had Stood Trial? — Robert Lambert
[The] war on terror lost moral authority and became a gift to al-Qaida propagandists. The fact that the most effective counterterrorism is always closely focused on the prosecution of terrorist conspirators appeared to be of no concern in the Pentagon or Whitehall.
The Osama bin Laden Exception — Glenn Greenwald
The Allied powers could easily have taken every Nazi war criminal they found and summarily executed them without many people caring. But they didn’t do that, and the reason they didn’t is because how the Nazis were punished would determine not only the character of the punishing nations, but more importantly, would set the standards for how future punishment would be doled out.
Surveillance, Not Waterboarding, Led to Bin Laden — Spencer Ackerman
[Waterboarding] and other abusive techniques failed to get the name out of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi. A New York Times account has both men claiming not to know even the courier’s nom de guerre, which actually may have counted as a kind of confirmation by omission in this case. That says something about the limits of brute force in interrogation.
Torture May Have Slowed Hunt for Bin Laden, Not Hastened It — Dan Froomkin
It now appears likely that several detainees had information about a key al Qaeda courier — information that might have led authorities directly to bin Laden years ago. But subjected to physical and psychological brutality, “they gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us…”