While we finished our unit on "Perilous Times" late last semester, it can be argued that we are still living in perilous times.
Next week (on Feb. 25th) we will hear from Professor Geoffrey Stone, author of the book from which our unit took its name. Mr. Stone is a Constitutional law expert and he will talk about current threats to civil liberties. Sadly, the news is rife with such threats these days. Here are two examples:
*** Last week the Republicans and Democrats waged a political battle over the "Protect America Act," which expired on Saturday. The act updates the surveillance regime used by the government to monitor e-mails and phone calls in this country and abroad. According to the Chicago Tribune, "Republicans and Democrats are essentially playing a game of chicken that could test the public's attitude toward balancing anti-terrorist measures with civil liberties. Bush has often been able to prevail in such battles, but some Democrats are betting that the equation has changed."
*** This morning I read an extraordinary op-ed by Morris Davis called "Unforgivable Behavior, Inadmissable Evidence." Davis was the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo until he resigned in 2007. He once defended the practices at the military base, but here Davis reviles such practices as waterboarding (simulated drowning) to elicit confessions. Aside from raising questions of legality and constitutionality, he argues that the U.S. military's torture (to say nothing of the U.S.'s abandonment of the Geneva Convention rules our country helped write) has destroyed our moral authority. You can read his article in full by clicking on the title of this post.