Carol Platt Liebau: Calibrating the Scales

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Calibrating the Scales

The Washington Post's David Ignatius discussing the truly chilling possibility that Al Qaeda may have a nuclear bomb. It is an ugly thought, and just as scary is the fact that the US simply doesn't know what the terrorists' nuclear capacity is.

That's why it's so very disturbing when things like the leak of the bin Laden video or the leak of the terrorist financing system essentially hobble our efforts to prevent the unthinkable. Yet these events seem to be taken seriously neither by Democrat leaders (like Nancy Pelosi, who pushed a far-left version of a terrorist surveillance bill, which was pulled from consideration) nor by members of the MSM, who benefit most (career- and prestige-wise) from the leaks.

In fact, right before Ignatius proceeds to scare his readers to death, he adds the little hat-tip that seems, in many journalistic circles, to be a prerequisite for writing anything that might validate the Bush Administration's approach to the war on terror:

We've all had enough fear-mongering to last a lifetime. Indeed, we have become so frightened of terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, that we have begun doing the terrorists' job for them by undermining the legal framework of our democracy.

Really? What "fear-mongering" has gone on that is different in style and kind from the kind Ignatius presents? And as for "dismantling the legal framework of our democracy" -- how does he mean? By refusing to grant suspected foreign terrorists -- captured on the battlefield -- the full panoply of constitutional rights guaranteed to American citizens? Or by authorizing sleep deprivation and other discomforts to elicit vital information from foreign fighters (not soldiers within the plain meaning of the Geneva Conventions, mind you)?

As an American who very much believes in the rule of law properly understood, it can be irritating to listen to some journalists who both demand that we remain completely safe from terrorist attack -- and that we do it in a way that meets the approbation of even the softest-hearted (and -minded) left-wing civil libertarian.

Obviously, that would be the best way -- and the only way in a perfect world. But as Ignatius' piece itself reminds us, we are hardly living in a perfect world. What would be more useful is for those who are prone to indulging in little asides like the one above to tell us how they, themselves, would calibrate the scale that allows everyone, left to right, to agree that "the legal framework of our democracy" is still intact, but also is completely effective in preventing a nuclear holocaust, courtesy of Al Qaeda.


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