Fred Kaplan on where we go from here with the New Yorker and Newsweek allegations.

Also in Slate, Hitchens spins an argument to watch out for in the days ahead. Basically ceding that there must be some truth to the Hersh article, he takes the next step and asks: why are we so eager to beat up on the Bush administration for its inability to track down terrorist masterminds if we can't handle the methods necessary to effectively do the job?

I'm sure this is going to be complaint number one from administration supporters as this story unfolds. They will try to back the opposition into a corner by eliding one fundamentally different position with another, saying you can't have it both ways, and forcing the opposition to bear the brunt of a nuanced argument. Only this time, the administration winning means permanently unhinging America from standards of decency in its dealings with the world, a lookingglass which will not be easy to crawl back through.

The question is one of limits, of checks and balances. There should be little question that the tension between national security interests and the full exercise of fairness and democracy is a legitimate question, and this tension becomes especially abrasive when individuals and states clearly threaten American lives and stability. A perfect example are the cases Hersh mentioned where covert operatives failed to capture or kill important firmly identified targets because of legal obstacles. Indeed, the U.S. maintaining covert operations around the globe pretty much guarantees that we are perpetually testing these limits.

One check on exploiting these limits is constraining exceptions to only the most clear cut and discreet instances. Basically, that we abuse our power as a scalpel and not a bludgeon.


Post a Comment

<< Home