If you have a spare 20 minutes, you could do worse than to read Michael Ignatieff's long New York Times Magazine cover story that tries to sketch out ways to improve the War on Terror. Ignatieff, an eloquent supporter of Gulf War II who nonetheless maintains that the justifications for it failed the democratic smell test, can be annoying at times with his relentless middle-groundism (example: "Security is as much a right as liberty, but civil libertarians haven't wanted to ask which freedoms we might have to trade in order to keep secure"), but at the end makes several important and timely points about the dangerous temptations of torture, unlimited detention, secrecy, Executive Branch power, and a passive Congress and media. Excerpt:
On all fronts, keeping a war on terror under democratic scrutiny is critical to its operational success. A lesser-evil approach permits preventive detention, where subject to judicial review; coercive interrogation, where subject to executive control; pre-emptive strikes and assassination, where these serve publicly defensible strategic goals. But everything has to be subject to critical review by a free people: free debate, public discussion, Congressional review, in camera if need be, judicial review as a last resort. The war needs to be less secretive, not more. We need to know more about it, not less, even if what we learn is hard. If it comes to it, we need to know, every time we fly, that in case of a hijacking, the president has authorized our pilots to shoot us down if a crash risks killing still more people. In a war on terror, painful truth is far better than lies and illusions.
Above all, we need to keep faith with freedom.
Whole thing here.