Civil Liberties

Another Year-End List

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Dahlia Lithwick's picks for the year's most outrageous assaults on civil liberties.

NEXT: Cory Maye Denied

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  1. Glad to see Cory Maye and the Duke case made the list. Oh wait, they didn’t.

  2. According to a recent motion, during Padilla’s years of almost complete isolation, he was treated by the U.S. government to sensory and sleep deprivation, extreme cold, stress positions, threats of execution, and drugging with truth serum. Experts say he is too mentally damaged to stand trial. The Bush administration supported his motion for a mental competency assessment, in hopes that will help prevent his torture claims from ever coming to trial, or, as Yale Law School’s inimitable Jack Balkin put it: “You can’t believe Padilla when he says we tortured him because he’s crazy from all the things we did to him.”

    I hadn’t heard this before. Padilla is so mentally damaged that he’s incompetent to stand trial? Somebody needs to spend a long time in prison over this.

  3. Dahlia Lithwick’s picks for the year’s most outrageous assaults on civil liberties Liberal Talking Points.

  4. Are you fucking kidding me? THESE are the most outrageous assaults on civil liberties?

  5. Dalhia entitled to her point of view, but the fact that she missed the numorous failed SWAT team raid abuse, the continuation of the drug war, the Duke Rape case, the murder of the wedding party in New York City pretty much ends what little credibility she had with me. Basically, Lithwick is more concerned about scumbags like Padila than she is about average citizens caught up in web of government. Basically, if your case doesn’t allow her to score polemical points about Bush, you are shit out of luck in Lithwick’s world.

  6. What? Nothing about registering for allergy and cold medications? Nothing about the PATRIOT act as it pertains to ordinary citizens? I just opened a bank account for my business and you would not believe the kind of questions you are forced to answer, several times I asked myself, is this worth it?

  7. Agreed, bad list. I tried E-Mailing Dana but the E-Mail came back to me. Coward.

    Is there some kind of cognitive dissonance that makes people not think about the drug war?

  8. S.A.M. and T.P.G.: Indeed. How dare politicians criticize judges! Isn’t it awful that journalists aren’t the final arbiters of what the government should keep secret! Isn’t it terrible how Padilla was treated (because we can always rely on captured jihadis telling the truth about their treatment)!

  9. List should be titled “The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006 committed by the executive branch of the federal government”

    Too focused on Bush, while almost completely letting congress and the judicial branch off the hook. As well as all the states and local governments.

  10. Summary: I hate Bush. And lists like this will numb people to legitimate lists of outrages (by Bush and others), but I really hate Bush.

  11. 1) Somebody publishes a list
    2) People complain about what’s on the list
    3) People complain about what’s not on the list
    4) Repeat

  12. At least she didn’t include the failure to provide universal healthcare as a civil liberties abuse.

  13. I second that. Randy Rhodes mentions that a lot and it makes my stomach turn.

  14. You people actually think the Duke case was one of the worst liberties violations of the year? Just another case of prosecutorial overreach, but this one got media attention because of the whole white lacrosse players / black stripper angle, and anyone who reads H&R should realise that.

  15. I think Dead Elvis has the most cogent critique so far:

    List should be titled ‘The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006 committed by the executive branch of the federal government.’

    That said, an even better headline would be “The 10 worst civil liberties violations related to the war on terror.” The feds play a substantial role in the drug war, after all.

    On the other hand, when music critics post their top ten lists for the year, part of the fun is watching as the rock fan picks his favorite rock records, the jazzbo focuses on jazz, the zydeco obsessive zeroes in on his favorite genre, etc. So let Lithwick stick to her bailiwick. You’re all invited to post rival lists of your own, focusing on drugs, privacy, property rights, prosecutorial abuse, SWAT teams, or whichever realm of the government bugs you the most.

  16. Of course Ms. Lithwick is most concerned with what our Executive branch is doing to non-U.S. citizens vaguely suspected of collusion with terrorists. She’s just another in a long line of Frostback journos taking jobs from Real Americans. 🙂 At least Robin McNeil and Peter Jennings eventually took their citizenship oaths. One thinks that if Dahlia ever applied she might be subject to a little rendition, herself.

    No, there’s nothing wrong with furriners commenting on our Constitution, but it would be polite to lay off the use of “we” and “our.”

    Kevin

  17. part of the fun is watching as the rock fan picks his favorite rock records, the jazzbo focuses on jazz, the zydeco obsessive zeroes in on his favorite genre, etc.

    From that angle, I’ll say that the list is flawed because Bush was at best a derivitive, generic blip in 90s rock. And no Pink Floyd! It’s an outrage!

  18. “According to a recent motion, during Padilla’s years of almost complete isolation, he was treated by the U.S. government to sensory and sleep deprivation, extreme cold, stress positions, threats of execution, and drugging with truth serum.”

    Hmmm . . . one of these things is not like the others. When does truth serum deserve to be bracketed along with torture? If the results of truth-serum questioning were to be used against Padilla in a criminal prosecution, that would violate the 5th Amendment, but if the truth serum was just used to get info about terrorists still on the use, what’s illegal/tortuous about that?

  19. Correction: “still on the loose,” not “still on the use.”

  20. Is there some kind of cognitive dissonance that makes people not think about the drug war?

    Obviously I suffer from a form of that. I thought in the thread where we fought that you were being sarcastic with your reference to the drug war, but now see I was wrong. I totally agree with you that some people (liberals, for example, as exemplified by Lithwick) don’t see at all how the drug war erodes our civil liberties.

    As libertarians, we are fighting the most uphill of battles against the War on Drugs, although as posted earlier on Hit & Run, strangely enough the conservatives may become our allies on that front. Time will tell.

  21. Amazingly, the continued existance of Professor Ann Althouse did not make the list.

  22. While I agree with many of Lithwick’s assessments, she should have had her entire top ten list as #6, George W. Bush’s Chicanery or War on Terror Overreaching. The list does appear to have a liberal slant, but based mostly on what she didn’t include. Unfortunately, saying that this lady is a liberal gasbag doesn’t make what she’s saying wrong.

    Her liberal slant is frustrating though. Surely SWAT teams busting down an old lady’s door and killing her is a pretty gross civil liberties problem, especially since it is a part of an alarming trend.

  23. When does truth serum deserve to be bracketed along with torture?

    I’d guess that it boils down to the fun of being involuntarily jabbed with a needle and injected with a barbituate (with up to 36 hours of side effects including nausea, headaches, and delirium) before each questioning session.

    Furthermore, since an effective “truth serum” is mostly a spy-thriller fantasy, all of this is done for absolutely no good goddamned reason.

    I reckon that qualifies.

  24. Okay, so she missed some civil liberties abuses. Yeah, it happens; some people have different priorities. But is anyone here willing to argue that a single thing on that list is really not worrying?

    It isn’t so much that I’m worried about Bush. I think he’s capable of abusing the powers he’s claiming, but we’ll still be mostly free. What I’m worried about is the precedent it sets. Maybe Bush isn’t as bad as some tin-pot Central Asian dictator. Is that really all we expect from our president?

    Bush needs to be held to answer for his crimes, because otherwise future administrations will start with the Bush administration’s abuses of power as a baseline of what’s allowed. And though I think Bush is mostly harmless, I can’t speak for every president we’ll have from here on out.

  25. HAPPY NEW YEAR, LIBERTARIANS! THANKS FOR ALL THE LAUGHS.

  26. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PAY ATTENTION TO ME. HELLO, LOOK AT ME, I’M OH SO BAD. HEY, HEY! LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME. JERKS.

  27. Thanks for killing the thread TED.

  28. (?———–?——-?—–?—?–?-(?)-?–?—?—–?——-?———–?)

  29. Exactly, grylliade.

    Also, I think the point of the list was not so much “The Top 10 Bad Things the Government Did in 2006” but rather “The Top 10 Bad Things That Set Bad Precedents in 2006.” Which is a perfectly reasonable list to compile.

  30. Okay, so she missed some civil liberties abuses. Yeah, it happens; some people have different priorities. But is anyone here willing to argue that a single thing on that list is really not worrying?

    What’s worrying is that not even people who make civil liberties their top priority can even mention that drug war in an article on the top abuses.

    We imprison a higher percentage of our population then any other country in the world and many (most?) of those is for stuff that shouldn’t be a crime. Its about freakin time somebody noticed.

  31. But is anyone here willing to argue that a single thing on that list is really not worrying?

    OK, I’ll bite, and go farther: nothing on the list is very worrying at all. Everything is so minor or such a special case that it all adds up to not much.

    10. Attempt to Get Death Penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui: Good. If we can’t execute violent jihadists involved in terror plots, we’re not being serious enough.

    9. Guantanamo Bay: Preferrable to alternatives, plus we are actually being softies by not executing many of them as illegal combatants under the Geneva Conventions, as is our legal right.

    8. Slagging the Media: Gosh, government secrecy in wartime, we’ve never had that before! And if the courts say the ACLU doesn’t have the right to publish secret information illegally given them, I suspect the Republic will survive that as well.

    7. Slagging the Courts: Oh no, politicians criticizing judges! The most overreaching branch of government might be slightly retrained in some special cases!

    6. The State-Secrets Doctrine: A new kind of war requires new kinds of responses. A small price to pay considering the stakes involved. I have yet to see any actual misuse of these powers. Yawn.

    5. Government Snooping: See #6. Again, yawn. And to say PETA is a “nonterrorist group” is a bit of a dodge: any group that gives money to the ELF, the ALF, and various individuals involved in firebombings and attempted murder is certainly skirting close to that label.

    4. Extraordinary Rendition: Another example of how this war has to be fought. She mentions two cases. Wow . . . two. Well, I’m sorry that two innocents got detained and released, but that hardly counts as a civil liberties crisis.

    3. Abuse of Jose Padilla: According to a wannabe jihadi. Yeah, they can always be trusted to tell the truth.

    2. The Military Commissions Act of 2006: Again, a purely theoretical threat to civil liberties so far.

    1. Hubris: Oh my gosh! People in power disagree with Dahlia on these matters and won’t admit they’re wrong and she’s right! Obviously fascism is just around the corner.

    Based on her feeble list of concerns, I’d say our civil liberties are actually doing quite well, considering.

  32. All they did was turn a knob on a stove. Do you have a problem with turning knobs? Lots of knobs are turned every day and nobody died.

    Besides, if anything, the water was a bit too cold before. Now it’s actually quite comfy.

  33. PapayaSF, you would save yourself plenty of time by just stating you don’t believe civil liberties are very important.


  34. We imprison a higher percentage of our population then any other country in the world and many (most?) of those is for stuff that shouldn’t be a crime.

    60% of all imprisoned.

  35. I have to say, this thread is making me a lot more optimistic about that libertarian Democrats thing.

    Look through these comments, libertarians. You want to “fusion” with PapayaSF?

  36. “I totally agree with you that some people (liberals, for example, as exemplified by Lithwick) don’t see at all how the drug war erodes our civil liberties.”

    The Drug War as liberal project. Somebody tell Reagan, Hatch, Nixon, and Rockefellar.

  37. joe, I don’t think anybody is saying the drug war is an inherently liberal/left project, just that there’s plenty of blindness about the drug war even among people who can otherwise be characterized as civil libertarians.

    And, regarding “fusionism” with people like PapayaSF, well, there are probably quite a few libertarians (or self-described libertarians, whatever) who think libertarianism is solely about taxes and guns.

  38. Tim, I’m a big believer in the civil liberty of not being murdered by foreign terrorists who want to destroy my country. As for the civil liberties of those foreign terrorists, not so much. It’s a war they started, and they’re not following any of the rules of war, so according to the Geneva Conventions we don’t have to follow the rules of war when we catch them. I’m not advocating the rack or anything, but the fact that they are being held at Gitmo doesn’t trouble me at all.

    Thoreau, I certainly believe libertarianism is more than taxes and guns, but I also believe that defending the country and its citizens from foreigners making war is a basic task of government.

    And I’d bet my beliefs are closer to that of the average American libertarian than Joe’s pro-socialist “libertarianism”.

  39. this pernicious myth continues. 60% of people imprisoned are not imprisoned SOLELY for drugs. i am against the drug war. i am also against lying and misrepresenting in order to fight it. if you actually LOOK at the stats, and i have been involved in doing this for 20 years, it is a flat out lie

    this has already been discussed in this blog, and i already presented plenty of evidence.

    also, to gnat…

    i have been involved in dozens of rape investigations. the duke case struck me INSTANTLY as most probably a bunch of complete crap… and went downhill from there. i have never, in 20 years of police work, seen a rape case that was anywhere NEAR as ridiculous as this case. it is a major civil rights violation, and it is horrendously awful. what is especially sucky is all the so called defenders of civil liberties (feminist blogs like feministing come to mind) from the get go INSTANTLY called for these guys heads and assumed they were guilty. anybody with even the remotest bit of common sense, let alone law enforcement background, can realize that this case is an awful awful case.

  40. How does one know when the critical point in a Republic’s loss of its basic liberties like freedom of speech has been passed? A Dec. 22 notice from the Federal Election Commission looks very much like that point for America.

    The notice concerned a complaint the FEC received from one Sydnor Thompson that Kirk Shelmerdine had improperly committed an independent expenditure on behalf of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign during the 2004 race.

    You’ve probably never heard of Shelmerdine unless you happen to be a fan of NASCAR racing. Then you would know that he is a former top-ranked crew chief who once worked with the immortal Dale Earnhardt but who went on his own a few years ago.

    By Shelmerdine’s own description to the FEC, his team is under-funded and without much hope of qualifying for a NASCAR race. Shelmerdine and his car are “a field filler,” with “no realistic chance of winning an event.”

    When he committed the independent expenditure, Shelmerdine had none of the big-time sponsors normally associated with front-line NASCAR drivers like Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. In fact, Shelmerdine had no significant sponsors at all during the four races in which he raced during 2004 while committing that independent expenditure.

    Here’s how Shelmerdine described himself and his reasons for putting the Bush-Cheney 04 bumper sticker on his race car:

    “I put the decals that are the subject of this complaint on the car solely because I thought that doing so would bring attention to the car and publicity for me and the car.

    “It was not my intention, in any manner, to be a supporter of President Bush or to influence the Presidential election.

    “I am not a registered voter. I have never been actively involved in politics.
    I have not publicly endorsed or aided any politician. I have never contributed any money or considerations of any kind to any politician, Political Action Committee, etc.

    The decals that were placed on the car would cost and have a value of
    $50.00 or less.”

    The truth is, Shelmerdine’s independent expenditure might have been seen by a handful of people outside the pits.

    But don’t worry, the FEC magnanimously declined to bring down the full weight of the law on Shelmerdine for this dastardly act of plastering a single bumper sticker on a race car that hardly anyone saw.

    No, the FEC graciously and mercifully settled on sending a mere “admonishment” to Shelmerdine. After all, as soon as he knew about the FEC action against him, Shelmerdine “out of an abundance of caution” took the bumper sticker off his race car.

    You can read the FEC documents in the case here.

    If you still wonder why I believe this case is so important, think about this: What is the difference between Kirk Shelmerdine’s race car as his equipment for making a living and the pickup truck driven by the plumber or housing contractor?

    The contractor with a Kerry-Edwards or Bush-Cheney bumper sticker on his back bumper and driving down I-95 or just about any other public road in America will be seen by far more people than Shelmerdine’s “field filler” race car at four NASCAR events.

    It’s the same “independent expenditure,” but it has more impact than the Shelmerdine sticker, so what’s to keep Congress from next directing the FEC to “admonish” every contractor, plumber, electrician, etc. etc. in America to get those bumper stickers off their pickups?

    The Shelmerdine case is not merely “simply silly,” as argued today by The Washington Post editorial page. It is indicative of the ongoing destruction of history’s greatest bulwark for the right of every individual to think, say, believe and associate as he or she chooses, without having to get prior permission from bureaucrats or politicians.

    And thus one lone little voice among the formerly free American citizenry is silenced. The grasping, fearful politicians and the petty, controlling bureaucrats in Washington drive another nail in the coffin containing the First Amendment.

    Jefferson’s point about the need for a revolution every 20 years or so is becoming clearer with each passing day.

    That needs to be on any top ten list. The fact that it would never occur to someone like Lithwick to put this or something like it on her list is why I have no use or respect for her writing.

  41. joe, from a Conservative’s viewpoint, Rockefeller was a “liberal.” He was a big spending, big taxing, edifice building, Ripon Society-style “moderate.” He was what today they’d call a RINO – Republican In Name Only. The GOPs conservative wing hated Rockefeller dating back to the fight between Taft and Eisenhower in 1952. Rocky’s grip on the New York Republican party inspired the formation of that state’s Conservative Party, which managed to defeat Nelson’s replacement for Sebator Bobby Kennedy in 1970.

    Rockefeller’s enthusiasm for cranking up jail sentences for the possession of small amounts of dope is evidence that there is no more an ideological barrier to “moderate” or leftist statists using government power to enforce their morality via the WoSD then there is when they train their guns on smoking or fatty foods.

    How many “progressive” or “moderate” officeholders, unless they have opted not to run for re-election, have come out in favor of legalization or a strong version of decriminalization? Even in the ‘bluest” urban districts, that’s still considered political suicide.

    Kevin

  42. The Drug War as liberal project. Somebody tell Reagan, Hatch, Nixon, and Rockefellar.

    thoreau already gave the correct answer to this, but I just had to say to you, joe, that I’ve never seen you so obviously misrepresent something I’d said before.

  43. PapayaSF, you conveniently ignore the question of whether the detainees at Guantanamo are in fact terrorists. To deny Geneva rights to all detainees summarily means that innocents will be deprived as well as “those foreign terrorists.” So, do you believe innocents caught in the web of the War On Terror deserve Geneva protections? Or are their rights immaterial?

  44. Tim, I’m a big believer in the civil liberty of not being murdered by foreign terrorists who want to destroy my country. As for the civil liberties of those foreign terrorists, not so much.

    Padilla is an american citizen.

  45. jf,

    Then you should write clearer. “Some people (liberals, for example…”

    If you didn’t mean to imply tha liberals are behind the drug war, then that was a poorly written sentence. Your phrasing made “liberals” and “example” of those who see nothing wrong with the drug war. If you meant to describe Lithwich as an example of a liberal who saw nothing wrong with the drug war, you missed.

  46. Yes, PapayaSF, you are such a libertarian that you are on the other side from us “socialits.” Quite right.

    You’re ok with everything Lithwick listed, ands we’re not.

  47. joe,

    I’m really full of goodwill towards all, so I hope this comes out right. I was responding to Chalupa’s comment regarding Lithwick’s omission of the War on Drugs as an assault on our civil liberties. When I saw your comment, what I read indicated to me that you decided to deliberately misinterpret what I had said to make a case that I believe that the War on Drugs is a liberal invention, when I plainly meant that liberals (who should be allies with us in the War on Drugs) seem to have a blind spot, just like Chalupa said.

    Regardless, joe, I hope you had a happy holiday season, and I look forward to surprising you when I agree with you and irritating you when I don’t in 2007.

  48. Happy New Year, jf.

  49. Joe, I’m not such a libertarian that I can get worked up over Lithwick’s laughably feeble list of supposedly “most outrageous civil liberties violations.” Even the oft-wacky Reason of today could easily come up with a more substantive list: Cory Maye, the post-Katrina confiscation of legal firearms, Kelo, and John’s post about the FEC above would all be good candidates. Lithwick may think she’s defending civil liberties, but if she got her way it would only mean more dead Americans in the long run, which I consider a major violation of civil liberties.

    p-ter: True, but I don’t think it changes my point by much. (By the way, I find it interesting that Lithwick doesn’t repeat Padilla’s claim that the government gave him LSD or PCP. Perhaps she realizes that would make her outrage seem even sillier.)

    Tim: OK, good point. It’s a difficult situation. No, I don’t think every person ever held at Gitmo is guilty, and I want the innocent released as much as you do. The problem is very complex, because the people making war against us violate every rule of war as a matter of course, which makes it difficult to fight them effectively without making mistakes. But given the stakes involved, I strongly disagree with the view that every terrorist we capture anywhere in the world deserves a full Perry Mason defense, and that our failure to do so is a civil liberties outrage rather than a grim miliary necessity.

  50. The Drug War as liberal project. Somebody tell Reagan, Hatch, Nixon, and Rockefellar[sic].

    joe, while Reagan is the archetypical republican conservative and Hatch is the supreme religious conservative icon neither Nixon nor Rockefeller were considered conservatives in their day.

    Nixon was an anti-communist liberal of the 40s and 50s (in those days there was, in fact, such a thing as a liberal republican). He completely supported an expansive welfare state at home while opposing communist expansion abroad. It would have been difficult to slip a dollar bill between his politics and those of Hubert Humphrey’s (especially since both supported extensive surveillance of Americans to make sure they were not Commies or queers or anything of the kind).

    Nixon “became” a “conservative” in 1968 when it looked like that’s what he needed to do to get the GOP nomination.

    As for Rockefeller, do not even speak his name in the presence of a Goldwater Republican if you do not want your ears burned. He was most certainly never any kind of conservative. Again, in those days there were such things as a liberal republicans* and Rockefeller was their leader.

    *definition of a Rockefeller republican: Someone who thinks we need universal national health coverage so that we do not have to worry about catching a dread disease from The Help.

    And joe, lest you wonder if I value your contributions to these discussions, may the holidays be joyful for you, and may the coming year be filled with happiness and success. I mean that for you and all Hit and Runners.

  51. Papaya SF,

    I strongly disagree with the view that every terrorist we capture anywhere in the world deserves a full Perry Mason defense, and that our failure to do so is a civil liberties outrage rather than a grim miliary necessity.

    Again, doesn’t this suggest that everyone we capture is a terrorist? Isn’t the reason for habeas corpus precisely because the government catches and deals with real bad guys just as efficiently as it educates and cares for the poor and the sick?

  52. this pernicious myth continues. 60% of people imprisoned are not imprisoned SOLELY for drugs. i am against the drug war. i am also against lying and misrepresenting in order to fight it. if you actually LOOK at the stats, and i have been involved in doing this for 20 years, it is a flat out lie

    Depends. If we’re talking about federal prisons, 60% is pretty close. State prisons are about 20%.

    Link

  53. Again, doesn’t this suggest that everyone we capture is a terrorist?

    Simply reasserting that every detainee is a terrorist is a common response used to avoid the argument and ignore the problem. This administration would rather close its eyes to a detainee’s innocence than give up its power to detain and “interrogate” anyone it chooses.

  54. According to that notorious right-wing rag, Time, Mr. Nifong is in jeopardy of losing his law license, if the bar association grievance procedures go hard on hum.

    Kevin

  55. Isn’t the reason for habeas corpus precisely because the government catches and deals with real bad guys just as efficiently as it educates and cares for the poor and the sick?

    I think that about sums it up.

  56. OK, let me rephrase that: I strongly disagree with the view that every suspected terrorist we capture anywhere in the world deserves a full Perry Mason defense, and that our failure to do so is a civil liberties outrage rather than a grim military necessity.

    My overall point: I hear lots of griping, nitpicking, and hysterical fascism-is-descending claims from lots of people on the left (and too many libertarians) about everything that’s wrong with how we are fighting this war. I’ll agree that all is not hunky-dory (no war ever is), but I note a distinct lack of suggestions for practical, workable, realistic alternative approaches. And no, treating this as purely a law-enforcement/diplomatic problem (i.e. the Clinton approach) can no longer be considered practical or realistic.

  57. Campaign finance reform. I mean, duh.

  58. According to this president’s administration, the president can deem any person who is picked up off the “battlefield” an enemy combatant. The battlefield is not oversees or in a conventional war zone but rather it could be anywhere including the good old US. The constitutional safeguards established to protect against unlawful violations of liberty is DEAD, your life and liberty is essentially left to up to any officer who thinks you could be an enemy combatant. What the hell is an enemy combatant i dont know, now why would any libertarian trust this much power vested in the hands of one man, maybe you trust George Bush but this absolute power will corrupt some future executive. Remember Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  59. Note to Rep. Rangel: you are no longer a Liberal because of your efforts to criminalize drug use.

    Don’t forget his slave labor for the military porject.

    Relly want to see someone write that he is some sort of “conservative” in a paper that ends with ‘Times’.

  60. I strongly disagree with the view that every suspected terrorist we capture anywhere in the world deserves a full Perry Mason defense, and that our failure to do so is a civil liberties outrage rather than a grim military necessity…I note a distinct lack of suggestions for practical, workable, realistic alternative approaches.

    It’s important to note what this thinking has contributed to or produced…

    1. Distancing of even our allies from our methods.

    2. Inability to leverage human rights concerns against our rivals and enemies.

    3. Well-documented creation of new anti-American scorn and increases in anti-American sentiments and rhetoric throughout the very regions we seek to influence with promises of democracy and the rule of law.

    4. Repeated Supreme Court smack downs.

    5. Reduction in support – at home and abroad – for the war.

    6. Well-documented mistaken imprisonment of people (including children and journalists) under the initial guise of being terrorists.

    I think most of us are at least sympathetic with some of impracticalities you point out with providing everyone a “Perry Mason-style defense.”

    But leaving presidential decrees unchecked and reducing due process to cursory reviews by the very people who imprisoned “suspected” terrorists in the first place is shockingly weak and disengenuous.

    For all your indignation about “lack of suggestions for practical, workable, realistic alternative approaches,” where’s your indignation over the denial of basic civil rights. Or does your notion of civil rights and common understanding of justice end with people who have funny sounding names?

  61. tomhynes and deadelvis:

    According to Lithwick, you’re part of the problem – for “slagging the courts”. Nifong knows best!

  62. Isaac B,

    I am well aware of the term “Rockefellar Republican,” and of Nixon’s heresies against conservative economic policies.

    But the issue here is law-and-order in general, and its culture-war subset, the drug war. In this sphere, both men were rock-ribbed conservatives, often playing up their drug warrior credentials to endear themselves to conservatives who were turned off by their economic and (in Rockefellar’s case) foreign policy orientations.

  63. Nah, joe, you are all wet. The WoSD is a test case that shows that statists come in all sorts of flavors – including “liberals” (aka social democrats. progressives), “conservatives” and “moderates.” Pointing a finger at anyone you disagree with and calling them “conservatives” is just bad political taxonomy. Plenty of old New Dealers were in favor of “getting tough on crime” in the 60s and 70s. That may have made them “populists,” but not conservatives. Now, did, over time, some of those anti-crime statists detach themselves from the Democrats and “liberalism” in favor of the independent George Wallace campaign, Wallace’s run in the 1972 Democratic primaries, and eventually join the Nixon, and later Reagan landslides? Sure. So some of Nixon’s centrist supporters and the latter-day “Reagan Democrats” eventually morphed into conservative Republicans. But “liberal” Republicans like Rocky didn’t become conservatives because they trained state power on a target the cons liked, for a change.

    Rockefeller Republicans are still around, but they call themselves “moderates,” while their GOP rivals tag themn as libruls and RINOs.

    Kevin

  64. PapayaSF:

    You say: “I believe in civil liberties.” Then you go on to say that, in practice, you believe civil liberties are less important than some vague threat by some foreign speaking crazies. It’s reality vs. speculation. I can only speak for myself, but I think you are a giant pussy willing to shed civil liberties because you are afraid. Scared. Fearful. Wimp. Pussy. Whatever word you want to use to describe it is fine. Did you watch 9/11 on TV? Well I watched it live. Grow a sack.

  65. So you watched 9/11 live, and yet the threat is “vague”? Really? Because what I watched was not vague at all.

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