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August 20, 2007

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» The State of Civil Liberties: from The Volokh Conspiracy
University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, author of the excellent book Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from The Sedition ... [Read More]

» http://instapundit.com/archives2/008408.php from Instapundit.com (v.2)
WHILE THERE'S ALARMISM ABOUT CIVIL LIBERTIES, I have to say that things have actually gone better than I feared nearly six years ago. So it's interesting to read this from Geoffrey Stone: The legislation amending FISA is unwarranted, reckless and... [Read More]

» http://instapundit.com/archives2/008408.php from Instapundit.com (v.2)
WHILE THERE'S ALARMISM ABOUT CIVIL LIBERTIES, I have to say that things have actually gone better than I feared nearly six years ago. So it's interesting to read this from Geoffrey Stone: The legislation amending FISA is unwarranted, reckless and... [Read More]

» http://instapundit.com/archives2/008408.php from Instapundit.com (v.2)
WHILE THERE'S ALARMISM ABOUT CIVIL LIBERTIES, I have to say that things have actually gone better than I feared nearly six years ago. So it's interesting to read this from Geoffrey Stone: The legislation amending FISA is unwarranted, reckless and... [Read More]

» Systematic Shortcomings of Broad Executive Power in Times of Emergency: from The Volokh Conspiracy
In this post, I take to heart Eric Posner's admonition that the scope of executive power in wartime should be determined by the relative strengths and weaknesses o... [Read More]

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Roach

In light of the reality of foreign subversion, your catalog of past depradations misses another important aspect of the equation: there really were foreign sponsored terrorists and spies at work in WWI, WWII, and the Cold War.

Consider the old chestnut of the "terrible" McCarthy era. Poor Soviet-controlled Communists couldn't operate with impunity and anonomity. Boo hoo. The Rosenbergs really were spies. Good riddance to them. So was Alger Hiss and David Greenglass. The KGB archives opened up after the end of the Cold War confirmed this. McCarthy's only crime was giving anti-communism a bad name, not that he outed Communists in Hollywood and elsewhere.

More recently, there really have been terror cells at home, such as the Fort Dix Plotters and the Lackawama Six. For some reason, these foiled plots never seem to enter the public imagination for very long. We're assumed to be kept safe simply by business as usual, when in fact our intelligence and law enforcement agencies are ramped up far more aggressively than they were in the Indian Summer of the Clinton Administration.

So when we look at the equation, perhaps we should consider how a few bored FBI agents listening to your phone calls to Khalid Sheik Mohammad sits in the scales compared to tens of thousands of Americans that could otherwise killed in a successful terrorist plot. Of course, we never have exact numbers about the likelihood and magnitude of risk, so we must shoot from the hip. That's OK. I think the democratic process works reasonably well to sort these things out. I just think the ACLU's constant attempts to hijack that process, whether it's in defending communist agitators or child pornographers or terrorists has little credibility.

john

"I just think the ACLU's constant attempts to hijack that process, whether it's in defending communist agitators or child pornographers or terrorists has little credibility."

That's a part of the democratic process. Also, when you get into the facts of the cases, "the Fort Dix Plotters and the Lackawama Six" were buffoons; they posed no serious threat. You believe whatever your government tells you; that's your problem. That's anti-American; it goes against the very spirit of this country to accept as fact the words that come out of federal agents.

Roach

I don't believe whatever my government tells me. When it tells me, for instance, that it's impossible to secure the borders, I don't believe it. I also don't believe my government when it tells me through the Supreme Court that enemy combatants have justiciable rights in the federal courts or that there is a constitutional right to engage in sodomy among other things.

Incidentally, it's not "democratic" in any meaningful sense of the term to advance an idiosyncratic and expansive notion of civil rights without much pedigree in our historical life as a nation and use this viewpoint to get equally idiosyncratic and elitist judges to countermand the expressed democratic will of communities to put up the Ten Commandments, or ban lap dancing, or prosecute child pornography possession, and all the rest. It may be good policy. It may even be a defensible advancement of kind of anti-majoritarian constitutionalism, but it's not democratic. It's the use of the least democratic branch to thwart the will of the majority. Let's at least use terms correctly.

David Ross

In my view, Roach is a troglodyte; but he's right on the facts.

If it were up to the democratic majority, states like Mississippi would be Pentecostal / Baptist enclaves from which Muslims and atheists would be banned from state office. (Don't try to assure me that these actions, if taken, would be unpopular in that state. Democracy = the rule of the Damos.)

The ACLU exists not to use the democratic process, but to use the constitutional process - through the courts. They think that people like Roach can't be trusted with our civil liberties, and they are right.

Roach

Your point is well taken. It's well known prior to the 1960s that it was illegal to be Jewish or an Atheist in Mississippi.

David Ross

I deliberately didn't anything about Jews in this thread; Mississippians would have no problem with an Orthodox and Zionist Jew in office. I didn't even say that Mississippi would ban atheists (or Muslims) from the state.

I only said that a bill banning atheists and Muslims from holding state *office* would be *popular* statewide, and therefore democratic. Holding office. Democratic. Get it? Please don't insinuate lies about what I said, it pisses me off.

If a Keith Ellison black-muslim type were to gain traction in downtown Birmingham, the rest of the state would surely do all they could to keep him out of office. If it weren't for the 1960s this candidate would be lynched a la Leo Frank. Lynching of course is the ultimate exercise in democracy: the majority wants someone dead, so he dies.

Roach

Your suggestion that America was Taliban-like prior to the 1960s is so ridiculous it deserved to be mocked.

PS Leo Frank was guilty as sin; his sentence only got commuted because his lawyer's law partner was the governor. He tried to frame his black handyman, and even in the racially charged atmosphere of the time, the jury didn't buy it. Some shady dealings going on with that perverted man and his commutation, to say the least. Not an ideal situation, but I can't say I'll worry about his murder any more than if OJ or some other obviously guilty guy gets killed, other than as a breach of the peace. Incidentally, the ADL was formed to defend this dirtbag; what an august beginning!

David Ross

Roach: Again with the lies about what I said! I didn't say America; I said Mississippi (and used an example from the more genteel state of Georgia). I didn't say the states were "Taliban-like" in the decades 1880-1959; I said that they were more democratic.

They weren't more free. It wasn't safe to vote freely (i.e. for the Other Guy - the Republican) in those decades, particularly in the early decades. The process was called "Redemption" and overthrew federal Reconstruction.

By choice people believe what they wish to believe, and you clearly wish to believe that Leo Frank and other lynchees deserved to die. A trial, in perfect democracy, is the means by which the government portrays the atavistic will of the people as a legal action. The trial is a formality in democracy; the sentence is what you want and, finally, what you will have.

You are not an honest man, Roach; and if you speak for the Southern man's majority - as I think you do - then democracy is exactly what the ACLU et al. must keep suppressing in the South.

will

David and Roach,

You sound like typical "yankees" that spout out your rear what you "know" of the South. You may have changed planes in ATL, but....

Roach

My God are you annoying. When I said "Taliban-like," you could say I drew a reasonable conclusion or analogy from your example. Pardon me if I did not catch it in all its subtlety. Don't be so pushy; it doesn't help your case. We're not all Yankees without manners, you know..

As for Frank, look it up. His defense lawyer Luther Rosser stated at trial regarding the black main witness and handyman, Conley, that "Conley is a plain, beastly, drunken, filthy, lying nigger with a spreading nose through which probably tons of cocaine has been sniffed." These are the good guys?!? Frank also had a reputation for being a sexual harasser and a sex fiend according to numerous witnesses, including a "madam" and many of his young female workers and through a friend of Mary Phagan's. Finally, it just makes sense, not least because the illiterate handyman likely could not have written the note that Frank almost certainly penned or at least conceived.

This quote is strange to me, "A trial, in perfect democracy, is the means by which the government portrays the atavistic will of the people as a legal action. The trial is a formality in democracy; the sentence is what you want and, finally, what you will have." So what's so bad about a lynch mob if you don't think a trial is different? If you want to throw everything into the bonfire, then you can't really make useful gradations between different types of injustice.

Incidentally, racism not anti-Semitism was the dominant force of the South circa 1913. It was the burden to be overcome in the minds of the prosecutors, jury, and general public. It is stupid to make the Jewish OJ such a cause celebre then and now.

enigma_foundry

Second, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union have played acritical role in setting the terms of the debate. By objecting strenuously even to relatively modest limitations, they have prevented the government from proposing more drastic restrictions. Because we are debating whether the government can intercept international telephone calls, we do not have to debate whether it can prohibit Americans from criticising the president. Where battle lines are drawn is critical.

I agree with that, and would suggest that this is an example of progress we are making, too slow to be sure, but progress nonetheless:

"By contrast, serious U.S. protests took years to develop against the Vietnam War, launched in 1962 and brutal and barbaric from the start. The world has changed since then--as almost always, not because of gifts from benevolent rulers, but through deeply committed popular struggle, far too late in developing, but ultimately effective."

Noam Chomsky
"The Imperial Presidency and its Consequences"
December 22, 2004

I would hasten to add though, that issues such as proliferation of WMD's demand that we accelerate this struggle, before it is too late.

It should be clear to any thinking person that the war is quite dangerous, and we need to stop it.

Recall Einstein "I don't know what weapons will be used to fight WWIII, but WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones."

bob

Nonetheless, the overall state of civil liberties in the US, viewed in historical perspective, is surprisingly strong. There are no internment camps for American Muslims, no suspensions of habeas corpus for American citizens, no laws prohibiting criticism of the war in Iraq. This might not seem like much, but in light of past episodes, the intrusions on civil liberties since 9/11 have been relatively modest.

Your argument seems to be that compared to the worst excesses of infringements of civil liberties we aren't doing as badly now.

It reminds me of an argument in a somewhat different context, pointing out that whatever we're doing in Guantanimo, or Abu Ghraib, etc., we aren't as bad as Saddam.

The problem is the same in both cases, and in other arguments in this mode (such as the evergreen "at least he's not as bad as Bill Clinton"): you're justifying something by setting your standards as low as they need to be set to make the argument "work."

Set higher standards, please. Don't just aspire to be not-as-bad-as-the-worst.

reshufflex

"This is so for two reasons:"

Why not add the obvious third reason? Maximal privacy, first and fourth amendment decisions qua the Courts and attendant legislation in the modern era.

If one examines recent (post seminal, 60s civil-rights bills) judicial influence, we witness Katz in '67; the emphatic warrant requirements under Title 111; ditto those in the Keith case; and, finally, to the Church committee's finding of systemic executuve abuses which lead to the FISA courts. And eeven FISA has been "balanced" dozens of time since.

Strongly advise that Justice Stewart or Powell's decsions be read, or even read the judicial commentary of say Justice Black in Youngstown, from whence springs the putative executives' chest-thumping on matters of national security.

And, if one does nothing else, take a peek at Justice Jackson's brilliance in Youngstown. Therein are the limits of the Executive, rightly ordered. His concluding words:

"With all its defects, delays and inconveniences, men have discovered no technique for long preserving free government except that the Executive be under the law, and that the law be made by parliamentary deliberations."

Joan A. Conway

Money rules the global financial markets and those that have the money provide the financial muscle necessary to get government to roll back our individual liberties, much like they did to the black population in the South, like Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus rolled back civil rights in the 1950's and previously in the 1970's with Jim Crow laws.

Since the likes of the Rothchilds, who bankrolled Wellington's campaing against Napoleon, and also Napoleon too, they did so to manipulate the market, spreading rumors to depress stocks, then snapping them up on the cheap. Countries don't go broke, unless they become overextended in foreign wars.

Where attempts to regulate certain products (wireless telecommunications, internet) of international companies have largely failed over the years, monied monopolists use it to product their business investments aboard as well as at home, and that includes "On August 5, President George W. Bush signed into law legislation that amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). This new legislation authorises the electronic surveillance of international telephone conversations and e-mails, even if one of the participants is an American citizen on American soil, as long as the intercept is undertaken for foreign intelligence purposes and is “directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States.”

The country's largest private employer(s) and taxpayer(s) are difficult to rein in by any government, not in bed with them.

Congress routinely kills legislation that threatens their (private employers and taxpayers) interests, and their firms account for a chunk of the nation's advertising revenue, making the media reluctant to support a vote against protective measures. Their paid taxes support the war effort and they are subsidizing it, like the Rothchilds's pioneered market manipulation.

It is always the war that influences the bottom-line.

I cannot stress this enough, "big companies have captured our nation.

This is a risk to our democracy, as it is with other countries, mainly our neighbor, Mexico and the likes of Carlos Slimm as Mr. Monoploy, and it suffocates our individual liberties, our border protection efforts, in the process. Countries pay for the war effort, if it hurts their private employers and taxpayers, the war effort will cease.

reshufflex

JC-

"those that have the money provide the financial muscle necessary to get government to roll back our individual liberties,"

Nonsense. Bill Gates has most of the money. Then comes Buffet, followed in the main by the Walton gang.

Are you aware of Bill Gates et al quietly restricting my liberties? I guess he wants to make sure I don't buy his software, eh? There's a thoughtful plan. Or maybe there's an insidious movement afoot to keep me from a halcyon afternoon of shopping with the proletariat at Walmart. Guess they're trying to upgrade.

Say it aint so, Joan.

Joan A. Conway

"BACKING OFF. While Walton doesn't agree with his critics, they have prompted him to back away from one investment. In 1997, Walton stepped down from the board of Tesseract Group Inc., a struggling for-profit, and sold his 3% stake at a $1 million loss after critics accused him of pushing vouchers to potentially funnel public money to his for-profit investments. He now says he won't be involved in such for-profit ventures so that others won't confuse his motives.

That stance could soon force Walton to leave his nonprofit School Futures Research Foundation, which operates 10 charter schools. The San Diego-based group, backed by nearly $10 million in Walton money since 1994, is planning at least 14 new charter schools by 2001. But to expand as quickly as it would like, School Futures may become a for-profit entity, able to tap the capital markets. At that point, Walton says he'll step out. Look out, voucher opponents. That could leave him more time for his other favorite reform."

I'll be back!

Joan A. Conway

I'm Back:

Steve Jobs, the Apple chief and long time Microsoft antagonist said he will fight the PC-Mac plan with his own tactical maneuver. “I’ve formed ventures with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the University of Berkley. These are two staunch promoters of political correctness and share ownership of the term “p.c.” as an identifying trademark. Within the next two weeks Apple will announce its own Mac-P.C. platform to combat the Gates-McDonald’s scheme.”

Still on the case!

Joan A. Conway

Not only does Buffett have major financial clout, he also hasn’t been dealing with conservative smear campaigns for the last few years the way Soros has. If Warren Buffett is admitting there’s something wrong with our tax code. If he’s even obliquely stating that we are, in fact, in the middle of a class war and that so far “his side” is winning it’s a good sign.

Working class America has been getting the proverbial shaft for years and it’s only gotten worse, especially in the last 6 years. It’s good to see one of our most successful entrepreneurs admit there’s a problem.

I could probably go on! But I won't. I was referring to the Rothchilds.

Erasmussimo

I'd like to offer two points:

1. Absolutely nothing, nada, zilch has been presented by way of evidence that the current encroachments on civil liberties have produced the slightest improvement in security. The scaremongering offered by Mr. Roach is all very dramatic, but the simple fact is that there is no evidence to justify any of this. We do know that the 9/11 hijackers would not have been stopped by these methods.

2. The notion that civil rights are anti-democratic relies on a narrow view of democracy. Who, exactly, constitutes the demos? The quick and dirty answer is, the citizens of this country. But if that is the case, then why do we bother making long-term plans for the future? We'll be dead, and the citizens who enjoy the benefits of our efforts aren't around now.

The demos is properly comprised of every American citizen who has ever or will ever exist. Of course, most of those people can't vote -- only the ones alive now can do that. But our ancestors constrain our actions by their democratically-determined decisions (such as the Bill of Rights) and our descendants are constrained by our democratically-determined decisions. Indeed, if we want to, we can amend the Constitution to change the Bill of Rights -- democratically.

So let's dispense with this nonsense that the ACLU is acting against the will of the people. The Bill of Rights represents the will of all Americans extending over centuries. The tyrannies of the current Administration represent the will of a tiny fraction of the American demos.

It is the ACLU that truly represents the will of the people, and the ideologues who would reject the Bill of Rights who are anti-democratic.

Joan A. Conway

Bill Gates is killing millions of Africans by controlling and blocking drugs to the HIV victims, and he now flip-flops on his politics after the Clinton Administration lawyers took him to task on his trust. Once a leftist, he now supports the Republican party, namely Bush.

The American Civil Liberties Union has defined the focus of legal issues for decades and in its process has compromised our foundational values.

The ACLU, thought to be a defender of freedoms, is actually overthrowing the freedoms of millions of Americans.


As quoted from another blogger somewhere else the salient points of its results are as follows:
*The church has been progressively silenced.
*Parental authority has been shockingly undermined.
*Children are far less safe.
*Human life continues to be cheapened–both at birth and death.

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