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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Democrats and the torture bill

(updated below re: NIE -- updated again)

I have a post at Salon this morning arguing that the apparent support for the torture/detention bill by at least some (and perhaps the majority of) Senate Democrats -- including their Leader, Harry Reid -- is as politically self-destructive as it is unconscionable on the merits.

The normally restrained Jack Balkin is understandably, and appropriately, unrestrained this morning when he writes about this topic, and his post is very worth reading. Even if Democrats support the torture bill in substantial numbers (which I think is likely), I still believe, for reasons I've set forth here, that the outcome of the election is important. But it is increasingly difficult to argue too strenuously with those, such as Balkin, for whom a pro-torture-and-detention position is an electoral deal-killer.

UPDATE: It really is odd and disturbing, as well as potentially quite dangerous, that the declassified NIE on the "Trends on Global Terrorism" focuses exclusively on Islamic terrorists -- except for the last section which conspicuously identifies "leftist" groups which use the Internet as a serious terrorist threat (h/t Sysprog). Odder still, it makes no mention at all of right-wing, anti-government movements (such as, say, the one that spawned Timothy McVeigh, an actual terrorist).

I have a post at Salon analyzing the implications of the NIE's little-noticed equating of "leftist" Internet-using groups with Islamic extremists when it comes to assessing global terrorist threats.

UPDATE II: The House voted today to pass the President's interrogation and detention bill. The roll call vote is here. Democrats voted against the bill by a vote of 160-34. Republicans voted in favor of the bill by a vote of 219-7. Of the 34 Democrats voting in favor of the bill, two are currently in close races for the Senate: Rep. Harold Ford in Tennessee and Sherrod Brown in Ohio.

House Democrats acquitted themselves reasonably well on this issue. Several House members gave very stirring and passionate speeches about defending core American values. It remains to been seen whether Democratic opposition to the bill in the Senate will be anywhere near as overwhelming.

(As a programming note, today is the last day of my one-week blogging stint at War Room, so I will be back here full-time beginning tomorrow (beginning now, actually)).

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