Counterterrorism and the Rule of Law*

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Friday, March 05, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Man, Dan Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism chief, sure picked an unlucky day to deliver a speech defending the Obama administration’s counterterrorism record to the International Peace Institute in New York:

Finally, our approach recognizes that our counterterrorism efforts can best succeed when they make central respect for human rights and the rule of law. Because as President Obama has said from the outset, there should be no tradeoff between our security and our values. Indeed, in light of what we know about radicalization, it is clear that navigating by our values is an essential part of a successful counterterrorism effort. We have moved to rectify past excesses of the past few years by working to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay…

To be serious, this is what retired Lt. Gen. Harry Soyster meant when he said that American adversaries can “feel they are making progress if in fact our initial stand is reversed” on the KSM trial. Because abrogating the rule of law to accomodate political fear-mongering creates an asterisk after speeches like this that stick up for a mutually reinforcing commitment to the rule of law and national security. Hypocrisy has real security consequences.

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Comments

4 Comments

The rule of law « Later On
Pingback posted March 5, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

[...] in Daily life, Government, Law, Obama administration, Terrorism at 5:27 pm by LeisureGuy Spencer Ackerman in the Washington Independent: Man, Dan Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism chief, sure picked an unlucky day to [...]


CestWhat
Comment posted March 5, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

This is exactly right. Obama wonders why his voters aren't there to support him. Well, maybe if you actually called the bluff of his opponents and stop caving in all the time, he might actually get it.


strangely_enough
Comment posted March 5, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

We have moved to rectify past excesses of the past few years by working to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay…

It appears Mr. Benjamin is confusing the word “rectify” with the more appropriate “whitewash.”

GTMO is a symptom of a much larger problem of “excesses.” Closing the prison, and moving the occupants elsewhere does nothing to address what those “excesses” actually were, nor to hold those responsible accountable in any way.
Pathetic. Put this in the “when smart people say really dumb things and expect you to buy it,” category.


Matthew Yglesias » Endgame
Pingback posted March 6, 2010 @ 8:32 am

[...] Obama administration touts commitment to the rule of law on the very day it’s backtracking on giving KSM a real [...]


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