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How Far Is Too Far In The War On Terror?
Matt Welch poses the question in Reason to pro-war libertarians like Thomas Sowell and Glenn Reynolds:

I figure since their approach certainly has more resonance within the White House than mine, the answers would provide a more accurate weathervane than my feverish imagination. And given the eternal foreign policy divides within the libertarian big tent, it may help clarify the differences between camps.

The question is a bit open-ended, so here are 10 yes/no hypotheticals. My answer to every one is "no":

1) Should the National Security Agency or CIA have the ability to monitor domestic phone calls or e-mails without obtaining judicial approval?

2) Should the government have the ability to hold an American citizen without charge, indefinitely, without access to a lawyer, if he is believed to be part of a terrorist cell?

3) Can you imagine a situation in which the government would be justified in waterboarding an American citizen?

4) Are there American journalists who should be investigated for possible treason? Should Sedition laws be re-introduced?

5) Should the CIA be able to legally assassinate people in countries with which the U.S. is not at war?

6) Should anti-terrorism cops be given every single law-enforcement tool available in non-terrorist cases?

7) Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a suspected (though not charged) American terrorist, and then sell it?

8) Should the U.S. military be tasked with enforcing domestic crime?

9) Should there be a national I.D. card, and should it be made available to law enforcement on demand?

10) Should a higher percentage of national security-related activities and documents be made classified, and kept from the eyes of the Congress, the courts, and the public?

My belief, crudely summarized, is not only that you do not need to imitate totalitarians to beat them, but that it doesn't actually help.

But that's just me; before the next scandal cycle of bloggery bickering begins, I'd love to know where my pro-war friends draw the line.

I'd love to know.

Posted by aalkon at January 17, 2006 7:46 AM

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1. Yes.
2. No.
3. Maybe.
4. Maybe. No.
5. Yes.
6. Yes.
7. No.
8. No.
9. Maybe.
10. No. No. Maybe.

Posted by: Fritz at January 17, 2006 8:49 AM

1. N; 2. N; 3. N; 4. N; 5. N; 6. N; 7. N; 8. N; 9. N; 10. N. Full house!

Nowadays my main email account is Google's Gmail (you gotta figure they're going to be in business for a long time). But if you write to a friend about his new Ipod, you get ads for mp3 players on the right margin. Does that mean they read your email?

As far as the assasinations go (#5), that's one reason I support this war... It undermines the old way of doing things, when the CIA would hire a thug like Saddam Hussein to kill the Prime Minister of Iraq (1959).

Regarding #4, the correct answer is "not at this time" or "not that anyone knows of," which is not the same as "never". On what basis does the question imply that journalists could never commit treason?

Posted by: Crid at January 17, 2006 11:55 AM

Sadly, none of this is new. Google for "IRS abuses" or "BATF abuses". Read about Waco on Hardy's site, or the transcript of the Ruby Ridge trials. Broom-handle sodomy, NYPD. Ventura County, CA and Donald Scott.

All because Americans think that laws are for other people.

Posted by: Radwaste at January 17, 2006 3:24 PM

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