August 1, 2011

AT WHICH POINT THERE'S NOT REALLY ANYTHING LEFT TO DEBATE:

You Say Torture, I Say Coercive Interrogation: The conversation about torture we should have had 10 years ago. (Dahlia Lithwick, Aug. 1, 2011, Slate)

This weekend, I had the privilege of moderating a discussion about law and the war on terror hosted by the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colo. The participants were: Bill Bratton, former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and former commissioner of the New York Police Department; professor David Cole of the Georgetown University Law Center; Alberto Gonzales, former attorney general of the United States and White House counsel; Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU; and Professor John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general at the Office of Legal Counsel. [...]

Romero: "There is no greater threat to securing the homeland than America's willing abdication of her moral authority at home and abroad, and the utter lawlessness of the Bush years, beginning with the surveillance of American citizens without congressional approval or the review of the judiciary; the detention of American citizens without charges or trial, apprehended on American soil as enemy combatants; the establishment of black sites, where torture was committed--not enhanced interrogation techniques, not these lovely little euphemisms for that which is unconstitutional, illegal, and war crimes; and the absence of ensuring accountability for crimes committed by Americans and authorized at the highest level of our government. And that breakdown of the rule of law is equivalent to the meltdown of the financial system. The complete legal system turned on its head. Boxes were broken. Rules were changed. ...

"There is no greater set of conversations that needs to be had; this is a set of issues that is too often done behind closed doors among reified parts of the American government ... and perhaps the most important thing we can do is break open this conversation ... and thrash out these issues openly ... about the country we want to live in. ...

"I think the Obama administration also deserves to be called on the carpet for its unwillingness to take on these issues with the seriousness they deserve. ... This president has come too short, too little, often too late. ... That effort of putting one's head in the sand and the effort to push forward will only mire us in the past."

Yoo: "I don't think the biggest threat to American security is a claim that there is some kind of lawlessness or broad unconstitutionality going on here."


One either fears America's enemies or America.


Posted by at August 1, 2011 6:39 PM
  

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