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.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thomas Sowell's comprehensive guide to our political debates

Thomas Sowell has performed a truly great service. He has managed to squeeze in every dishonest rhetorical tactic, flagrant myth, and hysterical premise of Bush followers into a single new column, in which he argues that we are too weak, cowardly, squeamish and soft to do the dirty, brutal work necessary to defeat the Islamic super-villains who are trying to take over our country (after nuking us) and impose Islamic sharia law on us, whereby we will all speak Arabic and live in submission to the Worldwide Islamic Caliphate with Osama bin Laden as our Supreme Ruler.

The column is like a comprehensive Cliffs Notes for the propaganda of Bush followers:

Even with a nuclear Iran looming on the horizon and the prospect that its nuclear weapons will end up in the hands of international terrorists that it has been sponsoring for years . . .

Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons (or, as Glenn Reynolds responsibly suggested, perhaps they already have them). They are allied with international terrorist groups and, very soon, they will give those nuclear weapons to the Terrorists who will then use the nuclear weapons against us.

. . . many in the media and in the government that is supposed to protect us have been preoccupied with whether we are being nice enough to the terrorists in our custody.

Those who want to give people minimal due process before shooting them in the head are daintily preoccupied with "being nice." And everyone whom we have detained and is in our custody -- including the people who have had no trials, commissions or even charges brought against them -- are "terrorists" -- not alleged terrorists, not suspected terrorists -- just terrorists. Anyone the Bush administration accuses of being a terrorist is, by definition and without anything more required, a terrorist, and ought to be treated as such.

The issue has been brought to a head by the efforts of Senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham to get us to apply the rules of the Geneva convention to cutthroats who respect no Geneva convention and are not covered by the Geneva convention.

The Geneva Convention does not apply to Guantanamo detainees even though the U.S. Supreme Court, charged by the U.S. Constitution with interpreting all laws, just said that it did.

Congress has the power to impeach judges, including Supreme Court justices, but apparently not the guts. Runaway judges are not going to stop until they get stopped.

When Supreme Court judges issue legal rulings you don't like, they should be impeached. Only cowards (those without "guts") would refuse to do that.

The argument is made that we must respect the Geneva convention because, otherwise, our own soldiers will be at risk of mistreatment when they become prisoners of war. Does any sane adult believe that the cutthroats we are dealing with will respect the Geneva convention?

Since the barbaric, uncivilized, inhumane evil terrorists don't abide by the Geneva Conventions, why should we behave any differently?

The much larger question -- the question of survival -- is whether we have the clarity and the courage to go all-out in self-defense against those who are going all-out to destroy us, even at the cost of their own lives.

Our very survival as a nation is imperiled. We face an Enemy that is determined -- and able -- to invade us, destroy us, end civilization as we know it. Just like the Greatest Generation which gloriously triumphed over Evil, we, too, face a dramatic and character-testing challenge -- do we fight for our civilization and defend our country against Evil Personified, or do we submit and surrender and have our children speak Arabic and live under the rule of Osama bin Laden?

In a country where all sorts of individuals and organizations tap into our personal computers and our computerized medical, financial and other records, some have gone ballistic over the fact that the federal government tries to keep track of who is being phoned by international terrorist organizations.

People who object to the President's illegal eavesdropping don't want to eavesdrop at all on Al Qaeda. They want Al Qaeda to be able to freely call into the U.S. and not have the Government listen in. Although the law they insist be complied with allows for eavesdropping on Al Qaeda, they oppose eavesdropping on Al Qaeda.

Squeamishness about how this is done is not a sign of higher morality but of irresponsibility in the face of mortal dangers.

Those who are opposed to torturing people, breaking the law, violating our treaties, having the Government secretly spy on Americans, and executing people with no due process aren't moral at all. They are weak.

That really is the full quality and scope of the debate we are having and have been having in this country for several years now. There is nothing more elevated or noble about it. The debate really is this superficial, shallow, craven and just plain dumb -- but "Dr. Sowell" is a very "serious scholar" who is voicing the ideas that "serious, responsible people" voice.

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