Commentary

  • In September 2005, Captain Ian Fishback of the 82nd Airborne Division wrote to Senator John McCain complaining of the rampant prisoner abuse he had seen in Iraq. "Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security?" asked Fishback. He gave a simple answer: "'I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is ‘America.'" Fishback is not alone in seeking to defend "the idea that is ‘America.'" Other courageous members of the armed forces, such Albert Mora and Charlie Swift have fought for the rule-of-law-often at great personal cost. As we enter the longest presidential campaign season perhaps ever, the need to ask whether their efforts have been in vain must be asked with increasing intensity.

    June 13, 2007
  • Early this week, judge advocates halted two prosecutions in the Guantánamo military commissions established under the 2006 Military Commissions Act (MCA). This is not the first setback the Administration's second-tier court system has hit; the Supreme Court invalidated an earlier iteration of the commissions in 2006. And it won't be the last. But while this week's setback likely will be speedily surmounted, it casts an unexpected light on the MCA's real purposes, and what's at stake when the Bush Administration plays politics with national security.

    June 8, 2007
  • Yesterday, judges in the military commissions established by the 2006 Military Commissions Act ...

    June 5, 2007
  • Some ideas, like some gunshots, can be heard around the world, and down the centuries. On the night of February 22, 1946, a young U.S. diplomat named George Kennan, then based in Moscow, sent a famous telegram outlining what he saw as a gathering conflict with the Soviet Union. In embryonic form, that telegram prefigured a strategy Kennan would later term "containment": a "long-term, patient but firm and vigilant" resistance to Soviet expansion.

    May 15, 2007
  • Six months after Congress enacted the Military Commissions Act of 2006 with its eyes firmly on the polls, there have been many promises and proposals from legislators about how to remedy the damage done to civil liberties by that law-but little action. Despite the powerful advocacy of former military officials, religious figures, and law enforcement officials, Congress has as of yet failed to fix a single one of the MCA's many flaws.

    May 14, 2007
  • Talk of emergencies and their consequences has been thick in the air since 9/11. The Bush administration insists that the current fight against terrorism -- a situation it has an interest in depicting as a continuous crisis -- requires the courts and Congress to take a back seat. But the White House's claims of omnicompetence starkly conflict with mounting evidence of negligence and malfeasance. From the stacks of cash gone astray in Iraq to the embarrassing criminal proceeding against CIA agents in Germany for the erroneous "rendition" of an innocent man, the news for mavens of centralized executive authority is hardly comforting.

    May 9, 2007
  • REMARKABLY, President Bush has not learned any lessons from the excesses of his "war on terrorism," now in its sixth year. Even though the president's own secretaries of state and defense have warned that the prison at Guantánamo is undermining America's credibility, the president continues to assert the powers of a king by detaining people without charge and without court review whenever he deems them "enemy combatants." This strategy contradicts America's core values and undermines the fight against terrorism.

    May 8, 2007
  • Feared, condemned sight-unseen and praised as a celebration of free speech, Fitna, a seventeen-minute film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, appeared on the Internet in late March. Fitna is a bombastic, bloody montage linking terrorist violence to Koranic texts. It resembles the videos Iraqi insurgents use to fete and cultivate suicide bombers. This convergence of visual vocabularies is no accident. Like insurgent propaganda, Fitna aims to embolden the extremes to the detriment of the moderate middle. It seeks to affirm Samuel Huntington's pernicious vision of clashing civilizations by inviting violent responses from radicals, by forcing moderate Muslims into unpleasant choices between national loyalties and religious beliefs, and by reinforcing prejudicial views of Islam as unfit for civilized living.

    April 7, 2007
  • Khaled el-Masri was vacationing in Macedonia when he was abducted by local police. Mr. el-Masri was then beaten, drugged, and interrogated at gunpoint...

    April 5, 2007
  • The Supreme Court this week narrowly declined to hear the habeas appeals of the Guantánamo detainees. The detainees had sought review of the D.C. Circuit's...

    April 4, 2007

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