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Civil Liberties and Security

Sub-Topics
2006
2008

  • -Editorial: Why Terrorists Aren't Soldiers (NYTimes.com)
      "Treating terrorists as combatants is a mistake for two reasons. First, it dignifies criminality by according terrorist killers the status of soldiers. Under the law of war, military service members receive several privileges. They are permitted to kill the enemy and are immune from prosecution for doing so. They must, however, carefully distinguish between combatant and civilian and ensure that harm to civilians is limited."

      Further, terrorists are "merely criminals, albeit criminals of an especially heinous type, and that label suggests the appropriate venue for dealing with the threats they pose."

      "We train our soldiers to respect the line between combatant and civilian. Our political leaders must also respect this distinction, lest we unwittingly endanger the values for which we are fighting, and further compromise our efforts to strengthen our security." 08-07

  • -Editorial: A Question of Competence in Intelligence (MSNBC News)
      "As our esteemed senators fret over whether the NSA has violated their outdated 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, they are not paying enough attention to the competence issue. And no one seems to recall that the same Senate intelligence committee report from 2002 also criticized the 'NSA's cautious approach to any collection of intelligence relating to activities in the United States,' and its 'failure to address modern communications technology aggressively.' In recent years the agency tried to do so, but failed. To little notice, a giant $1 billion-plus program called Trailblazer that was to have brought the NSA up to date in data mining and pattern analysis—transforming the NSA's blizzard of signals intelligence into an easily searchable database—has turned into such a boondoggle that, one intelligence official says, "nothing can be salvaged out of it." " 'It’s a complete and abject failure,' says Robert D. Steele, a CIA veteran who is familiar with the program." 02-06

    Papers
    1. -Editorial: Are We Really a Nation of Laws? (PBS.org - Bill Moyers)
        "BILL MOYERS: Well, what you just said indicts the Congress more than you're indicting George Bush and Dick Cheney."

        "BRUCE FEIN: In some sense, yes, because the founding fathers expected an executive to try to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch. And you're right. They have basically renounced-- walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check. It's not an option. It's an obligation when they take that oath to faithfully uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. And I think the reason why this is. They do not have convictions about the importance of the Constitution."

        "BILL MOYERS: You're saying you want the judiciary committee to call formal hearings on the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney?"

        "BRUCE FEIN: Yes. Because there are political crimes that have been perpetrated in combination. It hasn't been one, the other being in isolation. And the hearings have to be not into this is a Republican or Democrat. This is something that needs to set a precedent, whoever occupies the White House in 2009. You do not want to have that occupant, whether it's John McCain or Hillary Clinton or Rudy Giuliani or John Edwards to have this authority to go outside the law and say, 'I am the law. I do what I want. No one else's view matters.' "

        "But there is absolutely a good that comes of this if the process begins, if we take it seriously. And the founders would have told you that, -- that impeachment is a dialogue. It is a discourse. And it is an educational process. If Congress were to get serious about the impeachment discussions, to hold the hearings, to begin that dialogue, they would begin to educate the American people and perhaps themselves about the system of checks and balances, about the powers of the presidency, about, you know, what we can expect and what we should expect of our government." 07-07


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