Sunday, June 13, 2010

Civil Efficacian

I'm a civil libertarian. I'm also a civil efficacian. In a way, I would like not to even be talking about false positives. I believe in privacy. The focus on false positives is partially me going with a premise from my friend Christopher, who says "we have no privacy, it's over already." Also Tim Fuller, in a comment to a comment I made on TPM. I've been thinking about this, and my feeling is, okay. I'm not sure I am willing to stipulate that this is true. But let's stipulate that this is true. The next step, as far as I can tell, is to say "that may be, but you throw the baby out with the bathwater depending on what else you may also think 'we have no....' also." Do we have the right not to be killed out of the blue? Do we have the right not to be imprisoned out of the blue?" I'm switching to false-positives because that is where the policy turns into real harm and real impact on innocent bystanders and you might be able to quantify it. Once you quantify it, a civil libertarian and a human-rights activist can say "this is unacceptable, anything above zero is a human rights violation and/or a Bill of Rights violation."

And a civil efficacian can say, I don't think you (the government) should be engaging in these things if you are going to do a shitty job of it with a lot of ancillary harm, blowback, unintended consequences. To say that, you have to be able to prevent evidence that there actually is ancillary harm going on, and that's what this blog is for.

Bush-era names.. I know their stories from a few years ago but I need to round it all up in one place. The German man who later burned down a store. ... Maher Arar.. Jose Padilla ... Al-Marri... it's possible these stories are all resolved somehow.

What about the mundane answer - if I was reading NRO/The Corner right now, would they say, "there's a difference between Al-Awlaki and Joe Smith!" And what is that difference exactly? Awlaki (I'll fix the names later if I'm spelling it wrong) , is a Muslim. He was engaging in inflammatory speech. He was fighting for other nations. It's pretty clear that it was a good call and does not suggest that authorities are going to start coming after people at random. Blair is just trying to do his job."

I suppose. I do acknowledge that most of the anecdotes of alarming, arbitrary mistreatment I've heard since 2001 have been of people who were militant in some way. Adam Gadahn, John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla had all been involved in fighting, carrying guns, travelling overseas. I don't know. There may be others I don't have at my fingertips who weren't. Maher Arar and Al-Masri (?) absolutely were not. As a matter of fact, do I remember C-Span coverage of a Maher Arar hearing, with Nadler, Delahunt and Rohrbacher interviewing him, and Rohrbacher - this is another piece that is *RIGHT* on my themes. I had forgotten about this! Rohrbacher essentially says to Arar directly, "you're an accidental false positive. Accidents happen. We had only been at this global endless war a couple of years when you were tortured. You're going to have to cut us some slack - your own treatment is within an acceptable margin of error given what we are trying to do." What a tool. This is my theme, totally. So in Rohrbacher's opinion, one accidental false positive Canadian getting tortured is acceptable in return for keeping the U.S.A. safe from terror attacks. At least now we're getting quantifiable. Where would Rohrbacher draw the line? Is it OK to kill 49% of all people, to save 51%?

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