Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Less Safe, Less Free (Losing the War on Terror)

David Cole, Professor of Law at Georgetown University lectures at the University of Chicago about his recent book: Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror (University Channel podcast). He argues the Bush administration's sacrifices in the rule of law, adopted in the name of prevention, have had no successes in the realm of catching terrorists or preventing their attacks. Alternatively, he claims, the war on terror could be conducted in a lawful way and thus would preserve the American international standing, the rights of citizens and foreigners and give no propaganda for anti-American movements.

Professor Cole himself is acting as a litigator on behalf of victims of the legal freedoms the war on terror gave US law enforcement. The case samples as well as the figures he presents are stunning. Tales of terrible injustice and thousands upon thousands of people rounded up, interrogated and questioned, while not one terrorist has been caught (except maybe for the shoe bomber, but he was not caught thanks to the exceptional judicial freedoms). In my words: he shows how the security craze has given leeway for secret, discretionary, unrestricted and unchecked infringement of human rights.

Historically, he shows this is not exceptional. Roosevelt interned hundreds of thousands Americans of Japanese descent. The McCarthy era saw the communist paranoia, create veritable witch hunts. In neither eras there were human rights organization standing up against the government. Today there are.

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