11/07/2004: Thought for the Day:
President Bush seems to have lost sight of the fact that what makes Americans both strong and free is the rule of law; not the rule of the president. Yet this administration has tended to treat both international and constitutional law as a set of polite suggestions to be ignored (at the best of times) and as an impediment to his policy goals (at the worst). From the insistence that the vice president's guest list at secret energy policy meetings could not be probed, to the unilateral decision to suspend the Geneva Conventions for some prisoners, to the (inevitable, at that point) memos from his staff suggesting that nothing is torture unless it leads to organ failure, to the events at Abu Ghraib, which could only have taken place under a president who had loosened the rules on torture, this administration has maintained two staggering legal stances throughout the War on Terror: (i) That it can and should stake out the most radical and extreme legal positions possible (the president's power to detain "enemy combatants" is utterly unchecked and unlimited; U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over anything that happens at Guantanamo Bay); and (ii) that laws are a luxury of peacetime, but by definition a hindrance to any war effort.
There is a vitally important conversation to be had in this country, about balancing security against freedom. That conversation has happened in the courts, in the media, and in the academy. But it has never interested this president at all, who seems to be increasingly of the view that any freedoms—of speech, protest, or due process, make everyone less safe.
--Dahlia Lithwick [slate.msn.com]
Len on 11.07.04 @ 10:17 AM CST