Barack Obama

Terrorism and Civil Liberties: Two Views on Obama, Neither of Them Comforting (Though For Different Reasons)


Beltway pundit and habitual pants-wetter Richard Cohen of the Wash Post writes:

There is almost nothing the Obama administration does regarding terrorism that makes me feel safer. Whether it is guaranteeing captured terrorists that they will not be waterboarded, reciting terrorists their rights, or the legally meandering and confusing rule that some terrorists will be tried in military tribunals and some in civilian courts, what is missing is a firm recognition that what comes first is not the message sent to America's critics but the message sent to Americans themselves. When, oh when, will this administration wake up?…

KSM, Abdulmutallab and other accused terrorists should be tried. But these two are not Americans, and they are accused of terrorism, tantamount to an act of war—a virtual Pearl Harbor, in KSM's case. A military tribunal would fit them fine. If it is good enough for your average GI accused of murder or some such thing, it ought to be good enough for a foreign national with mass murder on his mind.

No doubt George Bush soiled America's image abroad with what looked liked vigilante justice and Dick Cheney's hearty endorsement of ugly interrogation measures. But more is at stake here than America's image abroad—namely the security and peace of mind of Americans in America. Bush stands condemned by the facts for Sept. 11—his watch, his responsibility—and in all likelihood he bent over backward to ensure that nothing like those attacks would happen again.

More here (hat tip: Glenn Greenwald on Twitter).

Since the important thing for Cohen is apparently not what actually happens but "the message sent to Americans themselves," I await his call for longer airport wait lines and other aspects of security theater that may or may not enhance safety but will make us all feel more secure. To use the underwear bomber as an example: Giving a demonstrably incompetent government more power and less oversight doesn't seem like a great fix to anything.

Here's The Wash Times's Eli Lake talking up Obama's slowness on filling out the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), which was created in 2004 to make sure the government wasn't illegally spying on citizens (which it has a nasty habit of doing). He talks to a couple of real commie-symps in the piece, the heads of the 9/11 commission that recommended the panel, former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) and former Gov. Tom Kean (R-N.J.):

"You need somebody out here in the government that is checking everything that is done with regard to security, and asking themselves, can it be done better with a little more respect for privacy and civil liberties?" said former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, a Democrat who was chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

Mr. Hamilton said that "if you have an argument today in the [intelligence] bureaucracy between the security people and the civil liberties people, I'll tell you who's going to win the argument. It'll be the security people every time."

Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean, New Jersey Republican, said the civil liberties board "had disappeared."

He added, "We have now a massive capacity in this country to develop data on individuals, and the board should be the champion of seeing that collection capabilities do not intrude into privacy and civil liberties."

The Obama administration's inaction contradicts the White Houses public message of being a champion for civil liberties.

Lake's story here.

So is Obama a namby-pamby on security, as Cohen fears? Or is he actually following up on Bush's basic policies, which are probably not all that comforting from either a security POV or a civil liberties one? Reason's Michael Moynihan talked with Lake about this last March:

NEXT: Obama's Doublethink Doubletalk (SOTU Remix)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. A difference that makes no difference is no difference.

    1. “‘Speed is important in business. Time is money.’
      ‘You said opium was money.’
      ‘Money is Money.’

  2. “There is almost nothing the Obama administration does regarding terrorism that makes me feel safer.”

    How many Americans really feel unsafe? Should the Obama Administration create or save a few more psychiatric jobs to deal with these chronic worriers?

  3. Australian for “vagoina.”

  4. Yeah I mean we were one guy doing his bomb correctly from having 300 people blown to pieces and raining down on Detroit. What do we have to worry about? And of of course that guy told the FBI initially that there were others like him coming. But, we let him lawyer up, never interrogated him and will now never know if he knew anything. But, if the next guy is successfull and blows up a few hundred people over Washington, the body parts are pretty unlikely to actually land on Reason’s offices.

    1. Yeah, one inept attack every few years is a perfect reason to suspend civil liberties, have a massive, intrusive security state, and–on top of it all–give the President, who isn’t your guy now, a ton of extra power.

      Feel safer now, John? Pants less wet?

      1. Hey a few no knock SWAT raids that kill four or five innocent people a year is no reason to stop enforcing the law? Right

        And shut up with the “pants wetting” rethoric. To say that it illogical to be concerned about the potential deaths of 1000s of people on a given day is just stupid. That is a dumb ass argument. Again, you could apply it to virtually anything. I mean why did we pass the Klan Laws or send federal law enforcement in to stop things like lynching. I mean why suspend states rights when the chances of any one black person being lynched is so small.

        And that dumb ass argument only works as long as we don’t have any attacks. The day we get another big one, and sadly we probably will, you won’t be able to stand up and tell the country that the deaths are “just the cost of doing business”. That agrument is just a way for Libertarians to make themselves feel better. It is not a serious argument or in any way a serious response to the problem.

        1. You are more likely to be struck by Rosie O’Donnell than be a victim of a terrorist attack.

        2. Your fear is making you incoherent, John. You are comparing SWAT team raids, which is our own government attacking us, to random terrorist attacks, which is some person or persons attacking us for religious or political reasons. Your analogy makes no sense, and just points to the irrationality of your fear.

          1. It makes sense and you no it. You just don’t have a response to it, so you scream and shout invectives rather than argue it.

            1. That’s an amazing counter-argument, John; you sure got me.

              Attempting to pin your own failure to present a coherent argument on me is some pretty impressive projection.

              1. I will say it to you once again. Just because the chances of any individual suffering from a problem is small, doesn’t mean that it is not a serious proble. You could apply your cockeyed logic to virtually any problem and use it as a justification to do nothing.

                Further, even your assumptions are wrong. You think that your chances of being killed are smalled because you assume that the future will be just like that past. But there is no gaurentee of that. One successful antrax attack and your assumption that your chances of being killed are insignificant goes out the window. You don’t know what your chances are. You are just talking out of your ass and acting on the blind faith that nothing bad will happen and the future will look just like the past.

                1. And you ascribe powers to your bogeyman that are beyond reason. You’ve inflated the terrorists in your mind to the size of Lex Luthor, when they’re more like the Three Stooges, just less Jewish.

                2. Of course there are many thousands of deaths each year that can be attributed to a lack of health insurance. But I don’t see you calling for doing anything about that.

                  Maybe people ought to just have personal responsibility with regard to terrorist attacks. It worked for the panty bomber.

                  1. Tony, sockpuppets aren’t allowed on this thread. Jesse said so. Please go read the disclaimer for a few years.

                  2. Tony, get out of the way. I was enjoying the fight.

          2. fear is the mind killer.

        3. “””Hey a few no knock SWAT raids that kill four or five innocent people a year is no reason to stop enforcing the law? Right””

          Are you serious? No? Right?

          John is weighing in the cost of what if, while I won’t poo-poo that metric, it must be tempered with the odds of said event happening. Otherwise, you would have no problem giving NASA unlimited money to prevent the coming supernova of our sun. If you will bend over backwards to save a few thousand lives, how far will you go to save the whole planet?

          1. Carbon rationing, peeeeeeeople!!!!!!!

  5. He’s worse than Bush from any perspective except “TEAM BLUE!”

    Security-wise, he’s overseeing a more muddled and dithering version of Bush-era policy. Whether you like what Bush did or not, and no matter why, that’s not better. And liberty-wise, he’s…lying about what he’s doing, in a way that keeps TEAM BLUE!’s “civil libertarians” quiet. They might throw out some low-key press release about the TSA (if they can say “Bush administration policy” in it), or grumble once every couple months that he hasn’t closed Gitmo yet, but it’s not “Gulag! Gulag!” every day anymore. In fact, it never is.

    The problem isn’t Obama. He’s just bad at being commander-in-chief. His fans are utter shits.

  6. There is almost nothing the Obama administration does regarding terrorism that makes me feel safer.

    Considering that his chances of being the victim of a terrorist attack are statistically insignificant, and that his chances of dying in a car accident are vastly higher, I eagerly await his next article decrying Obama’s failure to make the roads safer.

    WTF is it about some people who just shit their Levis about terrorism? Do they also need to wear Depends when they take a drive or fly on a plane or go to buy a Tickle Me Elmo at Christmastime?

    OK, maybe that last one is a realistic worry.

    1. I wonder if you could tickle Elmo until he shit himself.

      1. My God–that’s genius.

        (starts Googling Toys R Us locations and ordering diapers)

      2. I had this vision of Elmo giggling, then Brown Play-Doh oozing from his ass.

        It’s non-toxic!

        1. I have this vision of you with brown Play-Doh stains around your mouth.

          Remember, BP, it is by the shit of Elmo that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning. A warning that you are batshit insane.

          1. Elmo would either shit shredded foam or fingers.

          2. You’re just pissed because you’ve failed the mentat test like five times now.

            1. I’m gonna pass it next time! Stop pressuring me!

            2. What mentat test?

              1. There are Mentat schools for training purposes, surely they would have some sort of exam or trial to ensure graduating pupils were up to snuff.

                1. Oh, I see. Yes, you have to snatch this pebble from my hand before you can leave this place.

    2. The chances of a gay person being murdered for being gay is pretty damn slim to. But I recall Matthew Shepherd’s murder being a pretty big deal. The chances of a black person being lynched, even in the Jim Crow South, were statistically insignificant.

      And while we are at it, the chances of you being the vicitm of a no knock SWAT raid are pretty damned low to. Yet, I don’t hear you calling Balko a pants wetter when he points out the statistically speaking few cases that occur. Somehow, the old staticically insignificant canard is only rolled out for terrorism.

      1. Oh John, sometimes you are just plain hilarious. Balko points this shit out because it’s a violation of our civil liberties. You, on the other hand, advocate for a loss of civil liberties.

        Do you not see that people’s fear of drugs caused what Balko reports on, exactly like your craven fear of terrorism caused what Nick is reporting on?

        1. And you have a craven fear of the police kikcing down your door. You are just too hard headed to admit what a fallacy your argument is. Just because only a few people die in no knock SWAT raids, doesn’t mean that we should tolerate it or that it isn’t a problem. Just because your individual chances of dying in a terrorist attack is small, doesn’t mean that we should sit around with our thumbs up our asses and do nothing. It doesn’t mean we should turn the country into a police state. But it also doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use methods that we have used in the past, like military tribunals, and treat terrorism as what it is, an act of war, and not just a criminal act.

          The problem is that people like you are going to destroy our justice system in this counry. You are pissing in the wind if you think people are going to sit around and allow this country to be the victim of terror attack. The KSM trial is a good example of this. You can’t try that guy in civil court because the result is pre-determined. No jury would ever let him go. So his trial becomes a show trial. If we don’t get terror trials out of the civilian courts the fucked rules and precidents that are set as judges bend over backwards to make sure these guys don’t walk away, will be applied to every crime and we will destroy our entire system. Better to say terror is an act of war and not let it infect our civilian system.

          1. Wow, John, that is some impressive logic. We can’t let them try the terrorists–that you are already convinced are guilty–in civilian court, because…they’ll be found guilty. Which makes a mockery of our justice system, but not trying them in our justice system doesn’t make a mockery of it.

            You could kill Nomad, Data, and Skynet better than Kirk ever could with this reasoning.

            1. They will be convicted no matter what the evidence or what rules of evidence and procedure have to be broken and beant. It is called bad cases make bad law.

              I am disapointed in you. You are normally smarter than this.

              1. Uh oh, here comes the “you are normally smarter than this” stuff. So you’re out of any real argument, then?

            2. Don’t forget M5.

  7. Obama has done things that have made the country less safer like let the underwear bomber lawyer up. He has done nothing to improve the country’s image abroad, as if that matters anyway. And he has done nothing to improve the rediculous security theater known as TSA.

    Look I would almost let that little rat bastard on Christmas Day lawyer up if the government got rid of TSA and stopped harrassing me at the airport in return. But Obama gives us the worst of both worlds. Civil rights and velvet glove treatment for terrorists and harrassment and invasions of privacy for everyone else.

    1. Yes Obama intervened in an otherwise lawless system and granted the right to legal counsel for the alleged attempted terrorist. Probably just to piss you off.

      Hey John, if we can dispense with civil liberties on our own soil arbitrarily, what gives the US the right to try anyone for a crime in the first place? If the US government isn’t bound by its legal obligations, why should a criminal be?

      1. Why should a non-citizen be granted anything, Tony?

        Of course, an actual citizen SHOULD be granted Constitutional rights. But we’re talking about someone who isn’t a citizen.

        Your concern for the Taint Bomber is touching, but misplaced.

        1. Your understanding of 8th grade civics is misplaced. Constitutional civil liberties merely restrict government. There is nothing about them applying only to citizens.

          1. …said the man who views the Tenth Amendment as an ass-wiping implement…

            Well, hell, Tony, let’s apply our civil liberties to the whole world. Or isn’t that like “nation-building”?

            1. Constitutional rights apply to all persons in the United States. This is an uncontroversial fact. That you don’t know it tells me that you probably also don’t know the history of 10th amendment jurisprudence, and that you probably get your civics from somebody like Glenn Beck. Fuck off, wingnut loon. Read a book other than Going Rogue for a change. Jesus.

  8. There are those who say that we must sacrifice civil liberties for security.

    Obama rejects that false choice.

    We can have reduced security while paying lip service to civil liberties!

    1. That is right. We can take away your civil liberties and make sure we fuck it so you are not even protected. Hell, at least China doesn’t have a terrorism problem.

      1. Perhaps because China doesn’t see the need to meddle in everyone’s affairs.

        1. Yeah. They never meddle in anyone’s affairs, just India, Pakistan, Tibet, Taiwan, North Korea and Russia.

      2. China doesn’t experience terrorist attacks?

      3. China does experience terrorism, including Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. See the Uighurs.

        1. Uighurs uobble, but they don’t fall down.

          1. is M&M a uighur?

  9. One advantage to Bush was that the terrorist community was obviously a little scared of what he might do. ‘Cause they thought he was loco in the nuke-the-moon sense. Tell me that al Qaeda expected two full-scale invasions and government overthrows after 9/11. Crazy, I tell you!

    Obama inspires no fear–either of a sane or an insane response–and is as disdainful of civil liberties concerns as Bush was. The worst of both worlds.

    1. Weakness causes war more often than strength. We had 9-11 because Bin Ladin, after seeing Somalia and the US do nothing after the Khobar Towers, first WTC and Cole bombings, concluded that the US would leave the middle east if he could just hit us hard enough. And once we were gone he could then carry out his real war against the Saudi Royals. He thought we were weak and never dreamed Bush would do what he did.

      That is why I say that Obama, by his constant apologizing and sublicating himself, is creating a bigger danger of war than McCain would have. The other nations would have feared McCain and thought twice about doing something stupid. No one fears Obama, even though, since he is the President and under some circumstances any President must act, they should.

    2. Actually, that’s exactly what al-Qaeda expected. Bin Laden’s strategy has always been to lure the US into dirty wars where it can’t win, in order to humiliate the US, reveal its ugliness and hypocrisy, and drain its Treasury. The only thing that may surprise him is just how well things have gone.

      1. that is not true. Go back and read what Bin Ladin was saying in the 90s. It was all about the weak horse and the strong horse. His war has always been against the Saudi Royal family. He was saying before 9-11 that if he could just hit the US bad enough we would go home. He only started saying the “I have them right were I want them” after we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. That wasn’t the plan.

      2. I don’t buy that for one second. I remember the times before 9/11. They clearly expected us to retreat into our decadence and lick our wounds. Of course, when 9/11 happened the Europeans were all sitting around saying, “You fucked up, dudes–not our problem now. Americans are muy loco.”

        1. “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. We, alongside the mujahideen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.”

          –Osama bin Laden in 2004 (referring to Russia in Afghanistan)

          Bush did everything bin Laden wanted and more. What kind of moron thinks acting like a fratboy gorilla will make suicide bombers cower in fear and decide to stop their attacks? The kind of moron who voted for Bush and got a boner when he landed on that aircraft carrier, I suppose.

          1. Yes, self-serving comments made AFTER the fact to make the best of a situation they never anticipated–that’s proof.

            For the record, I think we have little to no business meddling in the Middle East, and I’m not at all willing to give up civil liberties for the illusion of security. In fact, I’m not willing to give them up for actual security, for the most part, as I don’t really believe they are ends on a sliding scale.

            1. If Gore had been president at the time, he would have scolded the 9/11 hijackers post-mortem for harming the environment.

              1. If Gore had been president, Tipper would be wearing a Burka

            2. I’m with you on civil liberties, I just think John’s Rudy Giuliani impression is completely stupid. The notion that we can defeat terrorism by acting tough or using the word “war” or comparing dick sizes serves one purpose and one purpose only: to try to make Democrats look like weak little girls. It’s political theater, nothing more.

              1. What? You’re not using this as an opening for more “what about health care?”-style nonsense? Amazing!

                Oh, wait, you did that upthread.

  10. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: Barack Obama is George Bush with a tan and better P.R.

    1. Look again. I think Bush is a little darker.

    2. Who needs PR when willing blindness and lack of critical analysis does the job for you?

      On second thought – I guess you could count selective coverage as a form of PR. Certainly organs such as JournoList allowed Plouffe et al to marshall the “irregular troops” of the campaigns’ PR effort to craft the image of the O in the eyes of the rabble.

      This tactic works once. Follow-up is a bitch, and the O is woefully unprepared to actually practice the comity necessary to be effective in anything other than autocratic fashion. I think this is one of the reasons some slam Obama as being another Nixon, which is a comparison that seems pretty apt. I’m just waiting to hear about the silent majority – the anti-Fox campaign filled the Agnewish media attack part of the analogy, and the various union collusions provides parallels to the anti-hippy campaign(remember use of the “Hard Hats” as a constiuency by Nixon?). I like to think of the Tea Partiers as the New Hippies. I wonder who the Yippies will be?

  11. The ACLU getting something right for a change:…

    Instead of looking for actual terrorists, these centers scrutinize people who sported paraphernalia supporting Ron Paul, the Constitution Party, or Bob Barr.

    And a link to a guy who got pulled over for *gasp!* displaying an anti-Obama sign:…..on-vehicle

    “But… but… Timothy McVeigh! Plus, deregulation!”

    Yeah, yeah, blah blah yakkety schmakkety.

  12. Obama is truely the best thing that could happen for the once liberal credo “color blind society” – self-aggrandizing ego maniacs who also happen to be incompetant executives are available in all colors!

    Hopefully a few people somewhere will question their core belief in identity politics just a bit.

    Weakening the meme is maybe the best legacy Obama could hope to leave behind. The horrific debt will be a tidy reminder, so I doubt anybody will forget soon.

  13. Here’s a link to the Missouri version of the fusion center concept:…..t-20Feb09-

    These dolts equate support of Ron Paul with militia activity. How misguided.

  14. No one knows what the threat of terrorism is. The government doesn’t know what the real threat is. If they did, they would eliminate it. That is what makes terrorism such a difficult problem. In conventional warfare, figuring out the threat is the relatively easy part. You didn’t have to be a military genius to look at a map and figure out that the Soviets if they invaded were going to send 50 or whatever divisions down the Fulda Gap. Now stopping those divisions, that is the hard part. Terrorism is just the opposite. The threat can only exist in secret. As soon as it is known, you kill or arrest the people and that is it. So, we don’t know what the real threat is. And we never will.

    Now, we do know that there are some pretty sophisticated people out there who mean us harm. Everyone acts like these guys are stupid. And some of them are. But not all of them. The 12-25 bomber was not just some loser who decided one day to blow up an airplane. He was the product of a very sophisticated operation. Al Quada has links to people all over the world who are recruiting and radicalizing people. And through those links they found a guy who had an entirely clean record. They found a guy who would not show up on any of our checks and that they knew we would let on the plane. Now they got unlucky when his dad ratted him out. But that was just a bad break. And we gave them a break right back by ignoring it. But, they radicalized this guy, trained him and gave him a fairly sophisticated device to blow up a plane. And it should have worked. He just fucked up the last stage. Just because he screwed it up, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a pretty good plan and also the product of a fairly sophisticated operation.

    And they are still out there. And they really don’t care what “sector” they hit. They just want to make a big splash and kill a lot of people. I happen to think that is something worth worrying about. You may not. And it is a fair argument to have. But, one thing is for sure, given the past ten years, it is not unreasonable to think that the danger of a large terror attack happening on US soil is significant. It is. Just because my chances of dying in it are small, doesn’t mean that it is not significant.

    1. I work with foreigners every day (many of who take five breaks a day to pray in the dedicated room my employer provide) – and yet I feel one hell of a lot lot more imperiled by my goverenment than by the people with the H1B visas who have a compass to find the direction of Mecca.

      But then, I do live in Maricopa county so there is that. Is Arpaio and MCSO an exception or exactly the point of worrying more about Abdul than Joe?

      1. Isn’t it possible to deal with Joe and also stop terrorism? Even if you are more imperilled by Joe, that doesn’t mean it is the only peril you or anyone else faces.

        1. It’s a matter of risk magnitudes and immediacy. I place Arpaio (really, the horrific corruption of purpose that encourages an Arpaio or TSA to exist in the first place), verses the risk to either person or property by terrorism (including investments impacted by business climate changes) and have to weigh what constitutes a more existential risk.

          In other words, I do think we need to have a force of people standing by to shoot the Visigoth before he throws the torch. However, there is rot in the roof beams that is there and progressing even if Alaric never shows up – and those roof beams will crush the shit out of me when the house collapses.

          You might be able to tell that I am actually more concerned about the nastiness at home then terrorism imported from abroad.

          1. To be more clear – I think terrorism is being used by these players as a tool to manipulate the hoi palloi. I deny the notion that the terrorists are existentially threatening us, whereas I contend that the corruption of my government by a scumbag like Arpaio actually is a fundamental and ongoing threat.

            1. I don’t think they are an existential threat either. But, I do think a few thousand dead in Manahatten or some other US city is a really big deal and is more than just the cost of being a free country. Fuck that.

              1. It’s not the cost of being a free country, it’s the cost of being the biggest target in the world. Nothing will change that, and enmiserating ourselves before TSA does not remove the big fat bullseye. That will always be there, and always has been.

              2. Is your position they are a threat, just not an existential one?

                1. Yes, that is correct. They aren’t even the top non-existential threat. I have more to fear from weather than terrorism, and I don’t even live where there are hurricanes.

  15. A guy flying a third-party bumper sticker is likely NOT a terrorist, John. That was my point regarding the posts above.

    The left thinks everyone right-of-cener is capable of being the next OKC bomber, but the left almost never talks about the Earth Liberation Front or who inspired the Unabomber.

    1. I agree with you. And I think most of what we are doing to prevent terrorism is nothing but security theater and doesn’t make us any safer. I also don’t think violating everyone’s civil liberties is the way to go either. It is a really hard problem.

      When libertarians piss me off is when they trot out the “what are the chances” bullshit. Yeah, what are the chances. If only we knew, we would all have a merry Christmas. I don’t think Libertarians do themselves any favors making that argument. Few people and even fewer in the aftermath of an attack, are going to buy the argument “terrorism is no big deal and if a few thousand people die that his just the price we pay for liberty”. Yes, civil liberties are important. But so is security. And if push comes to shove, most people are going to take security. Libertarians would be better served by coming up with better ways to stop terrorism without violating everyone’s civil rights and privacy and than running around telling the public and those positions of authority “shut up you fucking pants wetters”. That is easy for the Jacket to say. No one is ever going to hold him responsible for anything happening.

      1. Is ‘security’ the same as ‘feeling secure’?

        Those things are used interchangeably by people who profit from making trembling voters feel less secure – and thus willing to give up some increment of liberty to be made to feel momentarly more secure.

        It is not unlike a drug high – the frisson of feeling gained by the incremental loss of liberty is soon forgotten, and another fix is required to regain that good feeling of security. Yes, concentration on the feeling of security is like a drug dependance – it always wears off, and the profit is actually in making sure that you never feel permanently secure.

        So maybe “bed-wetter” seems a little harsh but like any weaning process there is pain and separation angst – remember that you are being manipulated, and that the ones profiting from your misery and paranoia live inside the borders.

  16. I just get tired of the way the fanboys of the War on Terrah keep flip-flopping the terms “war” and “crime” around. They use whichever affords the government the most power with the least accountability (preferably no accountability at all). “They’re not soldiers–they’re criminals! They’re not criminals–this is an act of WAR!”

    And then they pout like little kids when I tell them that I don’t trust them.

  17. “”No one knows what the threat of terrorism is. The government doesn’t know what the real threat is. “”

    “”And they are still out there. And they really don’t care what “sector” they hit. They just want to make a big splash and kill a lot of people. “”

    Sounds like you know more about the threat than your first sentence claims.

    “””But, one thing is for sure, given the past ten years, it is not unreasonable to think that the danger of a large terror attack happening on US soil is significant.”””

    Wait, your the guy that says it’s wrong to assume the future will be like the past.

    How foreigners are treated within a country’s judical system can be debated, but turnabout is fair play. John shouldn’t have a problem with Iran denying the American hikers any of the few rights that their judicial system might allow.

    Foreigners have been tried in US courts for violations of US law for decades, so I would bet there are many, many cases where foreigners have been afforded rights when tried in our legal system.

    1. If Iran can produce some evidence that the Hikers were up to no good, then no I don’t have a problem with them doing whatever the hell they want to them. Iran is a sovereign country and anyone who goes there to cause problems is taking their chances.

      Now, I am saying we should just randomly shoot people. We have to make sure we get the right people. But, there is a difference between making sure we have the right people and giving them a full civilian trial. If Iran can show the US government evidence that those Hikers really were spies or terrorist, then too bad so sad for them. If they can’t, then no they should have to give them back. In the same way, the US ought to have to show Nigeria that yes the 12-25 bomber is a terrorist. But once we do that, what we do with him is our business.

      As far as the threat, you totally miss the point. We know there is a threat. But we don’t know the full nature of the threat. We can’t. If we knew the nature of the threat we would stop.

      There is no question there are sophisticated operations of people out there plotting to kill large numbers of Americans. We don’t know where or how. And we don’t know how successful they will be if left to their own devices. But we do know they are there and they are trying very hard. Our government has a responsibility to do something about that and not just sit around and say “we are happy to sacrifice the lives of our citizens.”

      1. “”There is no question there are sophisticated operations of people out there plotting to kill large numbers of Americans.””

        That’s just an assumption. If we knew it was true we would have intel to back it up, and we probably would have acted on that intel. Wrong or right, it’s still just an assumption.

      2. “””If Iran can produce some evidence that the Hikers were up to no good, then no I don’t have a problem with them doing whatever the hell they want to them.”””

        Why do you think foreigners have a right to see the evidence against them?

  18. “They’re not soldiers–they’re war criminals! They’re not civilian criminals–this is an act of WAR!”

    There. FIFY. War criminals can be shot on the spot, so be careful what kind of moral certitude you choose to encourage.

    1. Dude, it’s not my claim. It’s theirs. And whether they use the definition “war criminal”, again, simply depends upon whether it is advantageous to them to do so. Again, not trustworthy.

      1. Actually, the claims seem pretty self consistent. War criminal == ‘illegal combatant’.

        The hypocracy arises because these captured people were not really treated like they would be if ‘we’ really believed them to be war criminals – and now Obama wants to normalize the whole thing into the criminal justice system and somehow prosecute these detainees like civilian criminals. When you consider how the current Admin considers domestic anti-government rhetoric as precursors to terrorism, expanding the demographic of those who would be subject to the new process seems unwise for the rest of us.

        So that’s what I meant about consistency – be careful what you complain about, because some evil fucker might think you actually meant it.

        1. I agree that the designations should be consistently applied, and one of my issues is that they aren’t. I do not confine this complaint to the current administration, either. The Bushies were quite “flexible” in this regard too.

  19. We are told “they are still out there.”
    Let’s say that is correct. But in a free society, there is no way to prevent a determined band of evildoers from committing terrorist acts. Even a police state won’t prevent all such acts. Prisons are police states, if you will, and look at the violence that goes on there under the noses of the guards. So, even if Americans were to accept a total police state, there would still be acts of terrorism
    (probably even more as freedom fighters would be assassinating those leaders who support the police state.)

    Given the low level of incidents, it may be that America’s intelligence agencies are doing a pretty comendable job. Or that, in fact, there are hardly any terrorists at all willing to come to the U.S. and commit soft target public terror acts that require nothing more than cell phones and items that could be purchased at the local gasoline station, grocery and hardware store.
    Even a cowardly terrorist, should they actually exist in the U.S., could wreak havoc just by making several bomb threats a day from scattered public telephones.

    So yeah we have to stop “wetting our pants” because there are ample targets and opportunities out there and virtually no terrorists taking advantage of them, and we have no means of stopping them if there were.

    1. This is insurgency warfare 101.

      Strike in different targets across lands and force the counterinsurgency forces to protect everything. Which they can’t do. But the point is to drain the counterinsurgents of their resources, by making it very expensive.

      OBL knows that. While we can debate if it was part of OBL’s motive, there is no debate that he and his group is a benefactor of that philosophy.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.