• From: John Wager <john.wager1@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2006 12:40:41 -0500

Eric Yost wrote:

Consequently, I would rather err on the side of winning that war than on the side of protecting the individual rights of terror suspects. I mean, we did that in the '90s. We treated terrorism as a criminal issue, going so far as to hamstring FBI agents pursuing Bin Laden, thwarting CIA operatives who had a chance to effectuate a popular revolution in Iraq, and turning a blind eye to terror-preaching mullahs in Europe and elsewhere. The results were that the problem just got worse and the stakes of the attacks got higher and higher.

We usually fight the last war, not the one we're in now. So to "make up" for ineffective CIA operations, Bush has gone to the opposite extreme: Allowing not just the CIA, but the whole Federal government to do things that nobody would have dreamt of a few years ago. The largest problem with this is not that it treats terrorists harshly; the problem is that it makes the U.S. less secure because it deprives the U.S. of any legal ability to pursue terrorists. We no longer have the option of trying any of these people; if we did so, we would not be able to produce evidence in court. The ONLY option we have is extralegal. This is not mainly a loss for the innocent terrorists; it's a loss for U.S. security.

What government would help the U.S. by trying to work within a legal framework? They can't.

What U.S. agency can bring a legal action against a terrorist without having the terrorist open up the whole warehouse of cans of worms of how we gather evidence and mistreat prisoners?

What innocent person can be sure that their own interrogation might not take the same form?

What weight does the U.S. message that we offer "Freedom" have when we do not have laws that back it up?

How many potential terrorists are persuaded to take a different tack because the U.S. holds itself to the standard of law?

To how many ordinary Muslims does the U.S. stand look like lawlessness, in comparison with which Sharia looks good?

The problem with Bush's policies are not just that they are against the wrong enemy at the wrong time; the problem is that the way the "war" is being fought gives away much of the perceived moral high ground to the enemy, creating even more terrorism.

"Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence and ignorance." -------------------------------------------------
John Wager john.wager1@xxxxxxxxxxx
Lisle, IL, USA

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