Thursday, January 19, 2006

Christopher Hitchens defends civil liberties in "wartime"

Christopher Hitchens has joined a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's program of illegal domestic surveillance. In some passages quoted by Norman Geras in the post below, Hitchens zeroes in on the key issues at stake in his usual trenchant manner. But read the whole piece.
--Jeff Weintraub
January 18, 2006

Establishing a clear line
Christopher Hitchens on why he is participating in a legal challenge to the surveillance activities authorized by the US administration. He writes:
We have recently learned that the NSA used law enforcement agencies to track members of a pacifist organisation in Baltimore. This is, first of all, an appalling abuse of state power and an unjustified invasion of privacy, uncovered by any definition of "national security" however expansive. It is, no less importantly, a stupid diversion of scarce resources from the real target. It is a certainty that if all the facts were known we would become aware of many more such cases of misconduct and waste.
We are, in essence, being asked to trust the state to know best. What reason do we have for such confidence? The agencies entrusted with our protection have repeatedly been shown, before and after the fall of 2001, to be conspicuous for their incompetence and venality...
I believe the President when he says that this will be a very long war, and insofar as a mere civilian may say so, I consider myself enlisted in it. But this consideration in itself makes it imperative that we not take panic or emergency measures in the short term, and then permit them to become institutionalised. (Thanks: GMG.)
Posted by Norm at 12:26 PM