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Tale of Two Approaches

By Moti Rieber
Opinion | December 30, 2009

WICHITA, Kan. - Let's take a look at two alternatives in the so-called war on terror:

  1. You arrest a guy, put him on trial, take testimony from the people who saw what he did, get a slam dunk conviction and put him away until the end of time.
  2. You put him into the war-on-terror netherworld, disappear him, deny him access to legal representation, and - what the hell - water board him a few times for good measure. It is now impossible to convict him (impossible solely because of what you did to him) but you don't care about that: your intention is to put him away forever without any kind (or with the most circumscribed kind of) trial, and by the time the courts throw out what you did to him you won't be in office anymore and you can blame the people who have to pick up your mess as "soft on terrorism."

It's been said before, but it bears saying again: this country was built on the principle of the sanctity of the individual, and a big part of that is due process of law and, most of all, that we don't torture.

For the sake of some misguided pragmatism, the previous administration threw that away, at great damage to our reputation around the world and, even more importantly, how we think of ourselves.

Right wingers used to say that if 9/11 had to happen, they were glad Bush was there when it did, because they didn't think Gore would have done what they thought needed to be done. Well, I can say that I am glad Obama is president just for what happened over this weekend, because the approach he is taking will be - unlike that taken by those who came before him - appropriate, legal and effective.

Oh, and someone should tell Tom Ridge (architect or enabler of many of these failed policies) et al that the only way to protect the rights for us is to protect the rights of them.


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