January 07, 2006

How Far? This Far

Matt Welch has a quiz for pro-war libertarians.

Here are answers from Max Borders. Here are some others.

And here are mine...

1) Should the National Security Agency or CIA have the ability to monitor domestic phone calls or e-mails without obtaining judicial approval?
Yes. The question shouldn't be whether they monitor data or not, but how they use it. If it isn't admissible in court, and there are sufficient safeguards against targeting of political enemies (intelligence officers collecting and leaking Senator Sleazy's emails from his mistress should be illegal), I don't have a problem with gathering intelligence from domestic communications. (But note that "envelope"-type data doesn't and shouldn't require a warrant to be admissible.)
2) Should the government have the ability to hold an American citizen without charge, indefinitely, without access to a lawyer, if he is believed to be part of a terrorist cell?
No, not if it isn't proven before an appropriate magistrate -- which needn't necessarily be a standard criminal court -- that he has joined said terror cell. Once proven, though, an American who joins a terror cell probably ought to be understood to have renounced his citizenship.
3) Can you imagine a situation in which the government would be justified in waterboarding an American citizen?
Yes. American citizens are in fact waterboarded quite regularly during military SERE training (which prepares those most likely to be captured to "Survive, Evade, Resist, and Escape"). But I assume Welch is referring to civilians. Yes, I can imagine it, though it seems relatively unlikely. (And again, proven terrorists should probably be considered to have effectively renounced their citizenship.)
4) Are there American journalists who should be investigated for possible treason? Should Sedition laws be re-introduced?
Not that I know of; No.
5) Should the CIA be able to legally assassinate people in countries with which the U.S. is not at war?
6) Should anti-terrorism cops be given every single law-enforcement tool available in non-terrorist cases?
Bad writing alert... If the question is should tools available in terrorism cases be available in non-terrorism cases, then no. If the question is should tools available in non-terrorism cases be available in terrorism cases, then yes.
7) Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a suspected (though not charged) American terrorist, and then sell it?
8) Should the U.S. military be tasked with enforcing domestic crime?
Not generally, though most of the current exceptions to the Posse Comitatus Act are sensible. The drug war exceptions carved out in 1981 should be abandoned, though.
9) Should there be a national I.D. card, and should it be made available to law enforcement on demand?
No. I'm open to persuasion on this question, but I don't see what good it would do.
10) Should a higher percentage of national security-related activities and documents be made classified, and kept from the eyes of the Congress, the courts, and the public?
Congress, no (though I do think that Congressmen who leak classified information should get in big trouble for it). I don't know about the courts and the public; that's the sort of thing that requires case-by-case judgments, which is what Congressional oversight is for.
Posted by John Tabin at January 7, 2006 09:17 AM

This is an extraordinary interesting post. I personally believe that the MSM which is going nuts about wiretaps of terrorists talking to "American Citizens" is simply agenda driven.

I think National Id cards might help in airports and in some other areas, but I agree they are not all that important.

I think waterboarding should be allowed, but I am inclined to create disincentives for terrorists to want to attack the US. One thing they have always known is that not much will happen to them. I would probably allow more than waterboarding with the addition of torture warrants. I am with Dershowitz on this one.

I think the enemy we are facing is the greatest threat the United States has ever faced. I also believe that much of the left literally doesnt grasp this in much the same way they didn't and don't understand Mao, Stalin, Castro or even Hitler.

Posted by: ltabin at January 7, 2006 02:04 PM

yeah, the posse comitatus question was pretty silly and undigested.. shows he's scrapping for discrepencies.

Posted by: Taylor at January 8, 2006 11:22 PM

Well, to be fair, there have been calls to weaken the Posse Comitatus Act. (Larry Korb and Gene Healy debated this not too long ago on PBS.)

Posted by: John Tabin at January 9, 2006 12:35 AM

I have never been able to understand why anyone thinks that a National ID requirement would aid us in the fight against terrorists. As nearly as I can tell, the real people supporting such requirements are bankers and their ilk. George Bush and many other Republicans who love to yammer on about freedom tend to immediately forget about it as soon as the actual freedom of Americans is discussed. We should NEVER have to show ID (or other papers) to government officials. That's part of what makes us FREE. Those wanting to impose ID requirements simply do not care whether they are free or not.

Posted by: Henry Bowman at January 9, 2006 01:09 PM

My answers were almost identical to yours! Great minds think alike!

I am vehemently against i.d. cards; part of what makes America free is that we are free to move about without government say so. I.D. cards would not really accomplish anything, and would bring America in line with the rest of the World where you must present your papers to any government official who demands them. Bad idea.

This was an interesting post, John! I`m going to link it up, in the hopes that some of my Libertarian friends join in the fun.

Posted by: Tim Birdnow at January 9, 2006 07:05 PM

I also believe that much of the left literally doesnt grasp this in much the same way they didn't and don't understand Mao, Stalin, Castro or even Hitler.

We understand them far better than the right.

We understand that they subverted governments and bent them to their will.

We understand that these despots had the acquiescence and tacit approval of the majority of their people--how could they survive otherwise, much less get people to fight for them?

We understand that everything they did they did in the name of "country", "freedom", security" and other comforting watchwords.

We understand they ruled the mob through cults of personality and great PR--Stalin loved children, Hitler was always on the job, Castro is a man of the people, etc.

And we also understand that once you or your legislature, officially or tacitly, give the Commander in Chief emergency dictatorial powers over civilians, he never gives them up. Ever.

Posted by: zardoz at January 11, 2006 01:44 PM

With the possible exception of the German people for a while none of these dictators had "support of the people", tacit or otherwise.

There may be a cult of personality but it is 95% police state and 5% cult. Do you think people flee Cuba in droves because Castro is so popular, or that Gulags were popular with Russians, or Chinese liked it when Mao starved millions of them to death? One of the many mistakes the left makes is their absurd notion that "such and such government wouldn't exist unless it had support of the people." Our Mainstream Media used to invoke that line all the time, but then again they were very sympathetic to the Communist regimes.

Posted by: ltabin at January 12, 2006 03:14 PM