Commentary

  • More than two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rasul v. Bush that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their detention in federal court through habeas corpus. No longer, the court said, could Guantanamo operate as a prison beyond the law.

    September 22, 2006
  • Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted out a bill labeled "the Military Commission Act of 2006." Media attention in leading East and West Coast papers generally lauded the senators' supposed new-found spine, standing up to the president's suggested rules on military commissions for alleged terrorists seized overseas. But is this really a victory for measured moderation? On closer inspection, it turns out the bill that came out of committee is, in most important respects, practically a blank check when it comes to executive detention authority.

    September 15, 2006
  • The practice ofextraordinary rendition has left a trail of broken lives in its wake. The Canadian citizen Mahar Arar and the German citizen Khaled Masri are but the two most well-known examples. Worse, extraordinary rendition inflicts incalculable harm on countries that cooperate with the United States. It strengthens undemocratic, brutal Middle Eastern dictatorships, including, ironically, some of the regimes that first spawned the cancer of transnational jihadism. Islamists such as Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, precursors to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, were reactions to those regimes' repressive policies. America's continued support of undemocratic regimes, and its failure to support real democracies, is today tilling the soil once more for a new crop of jihadists.

    September 11, 2006
  • TomPaine.com
    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Thinking Beyond the Violence
    By Aziz Huq

    September 11, 2006
  • Congress returns from recess this month to confront fundamental questions presented by the president’s five-year long global “war on terrorism.” On the table is nothing less than the future scope of presidential power, with battles looming over military trials, detainee treatment, and domestic surveillance. In the past several months, courts have dealt the administration a series of setbacks on these issues. Undeterred, the president intends to reverse those defeats by asking lawmakers for even greater authority. The ball is now in their court.

    September 5, 2006
  • Within hours of her decision to hold the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program unconstitutional, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor was subjected to relentless personal criticism. Even in the mainstream press, she has been accused of "pos[ing] for the cameras" (the Wall Street Journal), charged with "blithely ignoring [her] own obligations" (The New York Times) and dismissed as having produced merely unscholarly "angry rhetoric" (The Washington Post). Such deeply personal invective directed at Judge Taylor drowned out commentary either applauding or disputing the merits of the decision.

    August 30, 2006
  • Terrorism penetrates the psyche by being unpredictable. Terrorists rely not only on the element of surprise but also on a second-level uncertainty to strike so deep: The difficulty of knowing exactly who the terrorist might be. Background is no guide. Many of the 9-11 plotters had tertiary educations. Others, like the self-starting (and foiled) millennium bomber and former petty thief Ahmed Ressam, came from the social margins. Ethnic profiling, proposed again recently by New York Representative Peter King, hardly works. The July 2005 London attackers and the recent High Wycombe arrestees both defied racial stereotypes. Any halfway calculating terrorist group, moreover, will simply work around ethnic profiling.

    August 28, 2006
  • The partisan posturing began within hours of reports the British had arrested 20-odd suspects in connection with an alleged terrorist conspiracy to blow up passenger airplanes. Arrests were made in the U.K, not the U.S. The plot was hatched in the U.K. and Pakistan.

    August 17, 2006
  • Dr. Steven H. Miles is the author of Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity and the War on Terror (Random House 2006). Miles, an expert in medical ethics, human rights, and international health care, is professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School and a faculty member of its Center for Bioethics. His book explores the role of military physicians in aiding and abetting abuse and torture at U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantamano.

    August 11, 2006
  • Today in the Senate Judiciary Committee the Bush administration will unveil proposed new legislation to respond to the Supreme Court's June ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. A final version of this legislation remained concealed right up to the day before the Senate hearing. Such secrecy disarms the public-and more importantly for today's hearing, congressional staffers who need to brief their bosses-from analyzing and understanding the draft. This secrecy, aside from some leaked drafts of the bill, should sound alarm bells about what the administration is about to propose.

    August 2, 2006

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