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Suspects possibly losing civil liberties

By chipuni in MLP
Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 03:50:49 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

The Washington Post is running an article about how civil liberties may be cast aside for suspected associates of the al Qaeda network.


The article disturbed me. Four suspects have possible links to al Qaeda. The FBI has offered lighter sentences, money, jobs, and a new life to them, but they're not talking. The FBI is getting frustrated.

Therefore, the FBI wants to cast aside their civil liberties. The FBI is discussing drugging the suspects, using the pressure tactics of Israeli interrogators, and extraditing the suspects to countries that will threaten family members or torture them directly.

Although information obtained by physical pressure, inhumane treatment, or tortune cannot be used in a trial, former attorney general Richard L. Thornburgh says, "...legally admissible evidence in court may not be the be-all and end-all."

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Suspects possibly losing civil liberties | 30 comments (21 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Another possible interrogation method (4.75 / 4) (#2)
by wiredog on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:19:39 AM EST

"This is my friend Avi, from Mossad, want to talk?"

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
it is worth remembering ... (4.72 / 11) (#5)
by emc2 on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:26:27 AM EST

That if something is done with impunity agains a terrorist, that same thing could be done against anybody else.

To protect all the rights of suspected (I will repeat this loud an clear for all to hear, suspected) terrorists is to protect your own rights and the rights of your children (yes, the children. It all so easy to give up rights and let your offspring suffer the consequences).



E=m*c*m*c
Honest.

Thanks for posting this. (4.93 / 16) (#7)
by RareHeintz on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:42:37 AM EST

I know lots of people out there won't see any problem with the civil liberties of these suspects being violated. In truth, if the worst thing that happens in the world today is that people involved in the destruction of the World Trade Center get knocked around by cops, I won't lose any sleep.

However, the story is much bigger than that, for a couple of reasons.

First, if the American system of justice - and indeed, the whole idea of "American Freedom" that our not-so-elected leaders claim we're defending - is to mean anything, then these people must be tried just like any other criminals. They should be tried on the strength of the evidence, and that evidence must be gathered lawfullly. These suspects, however guilty and however heinous their crimes, must be extended the same rights as all other criminals. To make exceptions, even in this one case, invalidates both the letter and the spirit of the mechanisms meant to ensure fairness in America's legal system.

The second (and less abstract) problem is that once we do start making such exceptions acceptable, they will be made again and again. When law enforcement agencies are given license to abuse their powers, they will; the recent spate of illegal wiretaps by the LAPD should provide ample evidence of that.

It gets worse. Once exceptions are made to due process for criminals - whether that's through new laws relaxing controls on law enforcement, or through a new habit of looking the other way when they go over the line - the government will use it to crack down on political dissent. This is not just paranoid raving: This century includes numerous high-profile examples of the law enforcement apparatus being used against members of various political opposition groups, through the passing of new laws (e.g., the Sedition Act), through quasi-legal "investigations" (think Senator McCarthy), outright abuses of law enforcement apparatus (such as the FBI's illegal surveillance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), and egregious abuses of executive power (such as Nixon's "enemies list" - people on the list were often the target of brutal tax audits). And don't get me started on J. Edgar Hoover.

Many of the freedoms enumerated in America's Bill of Rights were put there precisely because the denial of these freedoms was Great Britain's most common tactic in supressing the nascent, dissident movement for independence. Recognizing the role of dissidence in achieving social justice, the framers of the American political system deliberately erred on the side of protecting the guilty to avoid punishing the innocent, with the specific intent of disallowing the new American government from punishing innocent people whose primary "crime" was disagreeing with the status quo.

So, when voting on this article, I'd urge K5'ers to look past the (entirely understandable and legitimate) desire to see a few outstanding sociopaths brought to deservedly brutal justice, and think about the long-term consequences of relaxing Fourth Amendment protections and other restrictions on law enforcement. The article pointed to here contains disturbing information that should be widely disseminated and discussed, for it is exactly this dissemination and discussion that is required to maintain a healthy, pluralistic democracy with justice for all.

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

Why am I not surprised (4.33 / 6) (#8)
by quartz on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:42:58 AM EST

extraditing the suspects to countries that will threaten family members or torture them directly

IOW, yell "attack on America" at the top of your lungs for a month, then let others do the dirty work. Typical.



--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
Dirty work (5.00 / 3) (#10)
by mrgoat on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 12:59:24 PM EST

I'll reserve my opinion on whether or not the dirty work is justified, until a little later. That said, I agree with you, if you're saying what I think you are. Let's do our own damn dirty work if it's going to be done. Don't extradite the suspected terrorists to other countries, just because they'll be more brutal on them. I say, if you're going to do something, own up, take responsability for it, and suck up the consequences.

Besides, if the suspects get passed off to another country, and we know the kind of treatment they're going to recieve, we aren't absolving ourselves of anything. It's still dirty work, and it's on our hands.

I think by now you've guessed my position on this, and it's that the morality the laws are intended to uphold shouldn't be circumvented for any reason. That is, the intention of the procedures that are used, (I think at least) is so that people's rights and civil liberties aren't violated. If they are, what's the point of having the procedures and rules in place at all?

"I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
--Top Hat--
[ Parent ]

Yes (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by Robert S Gormley on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:42:31 PM EST

Much like currently you're making the 'government' of Afghanistan "suck up the consequences" of "harboring terrorists".

[ Parent ]
Ahh yes... (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by mrgoat on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 03:01:59 PM EST

I saw this post coming not moments after I posted my comment. You're right. (at least I *think* you're disagreeing with me, the ol' sarcasm detector just hasn't been working today)

I would much rather that the "terrorists" have to "suck up the consequences" of "ramming planes into the WTC" thus "killing thousands of people". Seriously though, I would rather see that that people who are not guilty of crimes, not be punished. But if you're willfully harboring people, who you know are likely to attempt to kill lots of people, then it is probably reasonable to expect consequences when they do. And I thought it went without saying that if you can't do anything about a crime, (including tell someone about it) then you definitely aren't guilty of it.

Whether the consequences are proportional or not, is a different facet of this issue.

"I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
--Top Hat--
[ Parent ]

Yup (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by Robert S Gormley on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 02:54:30 AM EST

I actually agreed with you... about having the balls to stand behind your actions :)

[ Parent ]
Torture is a heinous crime. (3.00 / 3) (#13)
by i on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:17:36 PM EST

But what if a heinous crime is the only way to prevent even more heinous crime? I don't think humanity is ready to solve such a dilemma yet.

If we were aliens from Asimov's "Rama", then maybe we could solve it. But we are mere humans, so I'm not expecting an answer any time soon.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

Asimov's "Rama", (none / 0) (#14)
by wiredog on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:27:15 PM EST

That's funny, the copy of "Rama" on my bookshelf was written by Clarke. Asimov wrote one too?

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
My bad! (none / 0) (#16)
by i on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:37:13 PM EST

Clarke of course. No cookie for me! Stupid, stupid me!

I did have a feeling that something is wrong with my post...

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]

One way or another (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by mrgoat on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:50:16 PM EST

One way or another, we're getting an answer fairly soon. Whether we, as a species, are ready to make such a judgement or not, is irrelevant. We're either going to commit a heinous crime, to supposedly prevent more, or we are going to not, thus deciding that one heinous crime doesn't justify another. At least for the time being.

So I don't think we can just say, "that dillema is beyond us" and leave it at that. I think that one heinous crime doesn't justify another, "as the means, so the end" and all that. So what DO you think?

"I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
--Top Hat--
[ Parent ]

What I think. (none / 0) (#30)
by i on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 04:07:57 AM EST

I think that I, personally, don't know the answer. What I fail to understand is why, say, capital punishment is more tolerated than torture. Surely if the latter is a crime against humanity, so must be the former? I'm not even talking about wars.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Funny you should mention Rama (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by fluffy grue on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:59:11 PM EST

Did you read the ill-conceived sequels? If not, I'll save you the trouble... the Ramans are really angels - that is, agents of God, who is bored and conducting a hyperdimensional experiment on ethics. Humans fail miserably.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

I didn't mean Ramans. (2.00 / 1) (#20)
by i on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:09:56 PM EST

Rather, that biotech-oriented giant-spider-like race whose name escapes me at the moment. Yeah, them sequels are ill-conceived, that's why I don't remember them very well.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Ah, right (2.00 / 1) (#23)
by fluffy grue on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:50:41 PM EST

The "octospiders" or whatever. They were only in the sequels, you know. :)
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Truly awful (4.50 / 2) (#15)
by drquick on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:29:20 PM EST

After all we have heard of Ameican pride over its judicial system, now this! This is medieval and not belonging to democratic or civilized nations.

what is a terrorist anyhow? (4.66 / 9) (#21)
by theantix on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:32:17 PM EST

Therefore, the FBI wants to cast aside their civil liberties. The FBI is discussing drugging the suspects, using the pressure tactics of Israeli interrogators, and extraditing the suspects to countries that will threaten family members or torture them directly.
This is even worse when you consider just how poor the definition of what a terrorist is! Just about everyone these days is trying to paint their oponnents as terrorists... the Israelis say that Arafat is a terrorist, the Palestinian say that the Israelis are terrorists. The Americans say that the al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization, al-Qaeda says America is a terrorist organization. Microsoft claims that hackers/crackers should be included as terrorists. The RIAA suggests that people who pirate music are terrorists. Hell, where does it end? Do the guys who stole my car last year count as a terrorist?

I know in Canada we are debating some anti-Terrorist legistlation right now, and the definition is one of the sticky points. I don't want to sign over my civil liberties, and especially not to some vague notion that can include just about anyone accused of a crime. Thankfully we haven't gone as far as justifying drugging and torture (yet), but still...

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!

re: what is a terrorist (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by mrgoat on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:48:53 PM EST

You bring up a good point, namely that of what criteria exactly should we use to determine who is a "terroist". I'm curious as to what revisions Canada (and any other nation with anti-terrorist legilation in the works) has gone through in trying to adequately define "terroist". So curious, in fact, that I'm going to do research on that when I have time, (probably tomorrow) Unless you, or someone else, posts some links. (Hint hint... :)

My knee-jerk reaction is to say a terrorist is anyone who uses, or incites others to use tactics intended to induce terror on others, in order to further a political goal. There's about a million and a half things wrong with that though, and probably a few more when applied in a legal sense. For instance, I would consider religious movements "political", since they sound like the same thing to me. (Methods of influencing and/or leading large numbers of other people). I'm sure others would disagree, and I bet a few would take umbrage. When you get right down to it, according to what I've just said, I'd have to consider teh schoolyard bully who used to steal my lunch money to be a terrorist. That's just not right... is it?

I'll have to think about it some more. Anyone else have input on this?

"I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
--Top Hat--
[ Parent ]

well, here's the best I can do (4.50 / 2) (#25)
by theantix on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 04:06:50 PM EST

From the national post (sorry, the best newspaper in canada only has 7-day searches) I got a quote of
"Key to the ultimate success of the government's omnibus anti-terror campaign is the definition of terrorism it will enshrine in the Criminal Code. Terrorism, says Mr. Chrétien's government, is an action that takes place either within or outside Canada that is taken or threatened for political, religious or ideological purposes and threatens the public or national security by killing, seriously harming or endangering a person, causing substantial property damage that is likely to seriously harm people or by interfering with or disrupting an essential service or program." The government, using this definition, will designate groups engaging in such activities as "terrorist organizations."
Actually (contrary to the newspapers intonation), we have not defined "terrorism" we have actually defined "terrorist activities" and thus "terrorist organizations". Unfortunately, the debate I was referencing was on a popular BC radio talk show hosted by a civil libertarian. One of the problems with the definition: it includes the act of war, including our actions in the war we are currently fighting (Canada is sending troops as well). Other problems: it opens wide doors for our internal spy agency (CSIS) and the police wide powers to investigate anyone who they consider is a threat. A threatened labor strike could be considered a threat to "interfering with ... an essential service or program" Those are a few I mentioned, sorry I can't provide more links... but it's a place to start anyhow.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]
Thanks (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by mrgoat on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 10:13:18 PM EST

Well thank you for the start at least. One of the first rules of any serious discussion is to define your terms, so I think it's important to have in my own mind a good idea of what "terrorist" means, and hence I think it's imperative that any government enacting laws about it have a good definition.

"I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
--Top Hat--
[ Parent ]

Suspects possibly losing civil liberties | 30 comments (21 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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