Thursday, September 28, 2006

Into the Abyss

We’re throwing away the very freedoms we’re fighting for.

Here’s Ed Kilgore at

“…it appears the US Senate is going to enact legislation today on treatment of terrorist suspects--virtually all of them, of course, Muslims--that will give a fresh bit of ammunition to jihadist efforts to convince their co-religionists that the United States considers them unworthy of any significant legal or moral self-restraint. This "compromise" bill, apparently worked out on the back of an envelope, and motivated almost entirely by domestic political considerations, might theoretically do some good someday, in some hypothetical case of a terrorist suspect with knowledge of a catastrophic attack. Nobody really knows. But what we do know for a fact is that by officially sanctioning some forms of torture, and denial of judicial oversight, this legislation will have a real, tangible and continuing negative impact on how our country is viewed by many millions of people whose good opinion of us has become a major strategic objective.”

And here’s Josh Marshall at

“In essence, it means that the entire criminal justice system in this country becomes discretionary in the hands of the president.

You have the protection of the courts and due process. Until that gets too sticky, in which case the president can pull you out of the court system and detain you forever with no recourse to anything but the president's mercy.”

And here’s Glenn Greenwald on what changes by it being legislation, and not merely some wrongheaded executive order:

“There is a profound and fundamental difference between an Executive engaging in shadowy acts of lawlessness and abuses of power on the one hand, and, on the other, having the American people, through their Congress, endorse, embrace and legalize that behavior out in the open, with barely a peep of real protest. Our laws reflect our values and beliefs. And our laws are about to explicitly codify one of the most dangerous and defining powers of tyranny -- one of the very powers this country was founded in order to prevent.”

When did we get so weak?



Greg! said...

This whole business is, quite literally, criminal. On moral, ethical and philosophical levels, I'm almost too appalled to express anything coherently. On a more pragmatic level, I'm enraged that those in elected offices are so consciencelessly dismantaling the very system whose defense they claim as their motivation. When it's apparent that this administration has been engaged in a laundry list of illegal activities, the response is to alter the laws to make those activities nominally legal. This is not accountability; this is corruption.

If this is what is necessary to defend us against terrorism (and I don't for an instant believe that it is), then frankly we don't deserve such defense. If anything, what's being done in the name of preventing terrorist attacks actually serves to invite and, frankly, justify them.

Rob S. said...

Greg, you know I feel the same anger you do about this, but it's causing you to overstate your case. Terrorist attacks are never justified.

Greg! said...

Yeah, my intensity of emotion made me sloppy with my language. (And as well as you know me, Rob, that alone is a pretty strong indicator of how intensely I feel about this.)

I didn't really mean that these shameful actions on the part of our government actually justify acts of terrorism. Nothing does. What I meant was that these actions provide terrorists with what they see as "justification" for their own unjustifiable acts.

Perhaps a set of cynical quotes around that "justify" in my first comment might have made my intent clearer. Perhaps I would have thought of that, or something even more precise, if I'd taken time to reread my comment in a less impassioned state of mind before I posted it.

For now, I'm going to go back to listening to Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me, where they're wisely taking this whole business with some satirical salt. It's a good way to maintain one's own sanity.

Thank God for NPR.

Jeri said...

Actually, maybe this is the best way to fight terrorism. Since they "hate us because of our freedoms," if we get rid of those freedoms, then they'll have nothing to hate us for!

Then we can join together with al Qaeda, etc., and celebrate our various forms of fascism, maybe at an annual conference separate from the UN. They're just a bunch of freedom-loving pansies, anyway.