Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Pro-war Libertarian Quiz

Matt Welch wrote in Reason How far are you willing to go to win the War on Terror?

I'm interested in breaking the cycle for a moment, stepping back, and asking the Glenn Reynoldses and Thomas Sowells of the world one question: How far is too far in the War on Terror? I figure since their approach certainly has more resonance within the White House than mine, the answers would provide a more accurate weathervane than my feverish imagination. And given the eternal foreign policy divides within the libertarian big tent, it may help clarify the differences between camps.

The question is a bit open-ended, so here are 10 yes/no hypotheticals. My answer to every one is "no":

  1. Should the National Security Agency or CIA have the ability to monitor domestic phone calls or e-mails without obtaining judicial approval?
    Absolutely. What they learn might not be able to be used in a court of law, and they should not disclose what they learn to the press or to anyone who might disclose it publically, but they should be free to do whatever they need to do to prevent another terrorist attack.
  2. Should the government have the ability to hold an American citizen without charge, indefinitely, without access to a lawyer, if he is believed to be part of a terrorist cell?
    I believe he should have access to a lawyer, but I do not believe that it should just be treated as any normal crime.
  3. Can you imagine a situation in which the government would be justified in waterboarding an American citizen?
    Yes. If an American citizen was working with al Qaeda to set of a nuclear weapon in an American city I don't believe his American citizenship should prevent him from being forced to reveal his plan for destroying a lot of American lives.
  4. Are there American journalists who should be investigated for possible treason? Should Sedition laws be re-introduced?
    Certainly the editors and reporters at the New York Times should be investigated for treason. And possibly journalists at WaPo and other media outlets.
  5. Should the CIA be able to legally assassinate people in countries with which the U.S. is not at war?
    Sure. It should not be done as a routine matter, and it should require specific authorization from the President, but a bullet is much less expensive than going to war.
  6. Should anti-terrorism cops be given every single law-enforcement tool available in non-terrorist cases?
    Absolutely, plus some tools not available in non-terrorist cases. But certainly any tool available for drug enforcement, organized crime enforcement, etc should be available.
  7. Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a suspected (though not charged) American terrorist, and then sell it?
    Seize it, but not sell it.
  8. Should the U.S. military be tasked with enforcing domestic crime?
  9. Should there be a national I.D. card, and should it be made available to law enforcement on demand?
  10. Should a higher percentage of national security-related activities and documents be made classified, and kept from the eyes of the Congress, the courts, and the public?
    No, there is too much classified now, but if it is leaked the penalities on the leaker, and those protecting the leaker, should be increased.

My belief, crudely summarized, is not only that you do not need to imitate totalitarians to beat them, but that it doesn't actually help.
You do not need to be totalitarian against everyone, but terrorist cells in this country should have no protection, and an American citizen that joins a terrorist cell should lose his rights as an American citizen.


Anonymous said...

You do not need to be totalitarian against everyone, but terrorist cells in this country should have no protection, and an American citizen that joins a terrorist cell should lose his rights as an American citizen.

And if you adopt the methods you advocate to determine whether he is or isn't guilty of such things, you by definition become a totalitarian. You can't make your omelette without breaking the eggs, and if you treat someone as guilty before being proved as such you become a police state.

Don Singleton said...

If we lock up everyone that opposes the government, I agree it would be a police state. But locking up al Qaeda members or even American citizens that have joined their Jihad against America, and who seek to fly planes into buildings killing 3,000 people, or even worse things, does not make us a police state.

Anonymous said...

As a New Yorker, I am truly upset by the actions of 9/11. Is it true that every other state in our union, and of course our allies could truly understand this? My young cousin went to IRAQ and got half of his face blown off. I don't know what to say about all this, but I do believe in our country, and all the rights we do have here.

Just that fact that people can blog their brains out proves my point. In any other nation, could we really have such freedom? We could complain all we want to and maybe we are justified in our beliefs, but I know for a fact that
we were deeply hurt as a nation, that stands on our pride of never being targeted on our homeland before the horrendous things that were done to us out of hideous beliefs of terrorists.

Even Pearl Harbor, in our Hawaii, didn't seem as horrible as what was done to us in the name of religious beliefs.

I just hope whoever is elected to office of the Presidency, can stand up to the plate and do the right thing, no matter what that is.

We are not isolationists. We are a world power. With that, comes alot of baggage. We have to protect the homefront and also protect the innocent, as best we can. The decision is a hard one, and whatever is done has to be backed by our nation, the greatest one in the world......

Anonymous said...

Let me add one more thing to my previous comment. You cannot run a nation with your hands tied behind your back. With the elections coming up, who will have the "balls" to "do the right thing" - whatever that may be! Will President Bush make a grand slam stand before he exits office? I wonder what, if anything, they will do. Will some grand gesture, seem so outrageous, or so ridiculous? Only the present can read the past. I think we all know that the middle east, in general, has been at war with itself for over 5000 years. You cannot put a bandaid on this. No matter how many peace treaties they sign - seems to me it is done with vanishing ink.

Anonymous said...


You're assuming why are not going to prove him guilty first.

Only when there is proof a person is doing such things is when we act on things like that. I think that is where all this confusion about "pro-war libertarianism"
(neolibertarianism actually) is coming from. Please, I say to my fellow neolibertarians, be clear and coherent when you write about such things so claims like this do not come up in the future.