The A Fortiori War Powers Quiz, Take One

Here’s a predictable pattern.

  1. A new revelation is published or broadcast about a controversial new policy or by-product of the War on Terror. (Abu Ghraib/torture, extraordinary rendition, the outing of Valerie Plame, an alleged plan to attack Iran, secret propaganda in Iraq, FISA-free NSA surveillance of Americans, and so on.)
  2. Some supporters of Washington’s foreign policy wonder whether the reporter or news organization or leaker who revealed the information might be guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy.
  3. The media, Democrats, and anti-war activists are criticized for piling on, for ignoring worse crimes committed by the enemy, and for hysterically exaggerating the underlying issue.
  4. Think-pieces are written about how this controversial or possibly illegal policy should actually be legalized and embraced.
  5. Some self-described small-government conservatives and libertarians exasperatedly ask if critics of the policy understand that we’re at war, and explain how this latest kerfuffle illustrates why libertarians should never be invited to the grown-ups’ table when discussing foreign policy.

— Matt Welch, Hit and Run 2006-01-05

… to which we can add,

6) The critics respond with expressions of horror at the idea that some particular group of people could be treated that way — American citizens, in particular — without giving any grounds for regarding that group of people as morally or politically special.

As for myself, I’m tired of softball. So, come one, come all, and take the A Fortiori War Powers Quiz, Take One. Liberal hawks, liberal doves, progressives, leftists, anarchists, and pro- and anti-war libertarians are all invited to play. Previous respondents — Cathy Young, Bill at So Quoted, Anthony Gregory, Matt Welch, Blar, etc. etc. — are all especially invited to play. (You should note that unless you scored pretty high on Welch’s quiz, your answers to this one are unlikely to be all that interesting — the a fortiori will run from your answers to Welch’s questions toward your answers to mine, rather than vice versa. Don’t worry, surveillance hawks; the A Fortiori War Powers Quiz, Take Two will be coming in a few days, and will have more interesting diversions for you.)

Anyway, here’s how the quiz works. The unifying theme is How far is too far in the War on Terror? The question is a bit open-ended, so it helps to come down to brass tacks, with yes / no hypotheticals. First, take Welch’s quiz to get the first ten. The next thirteen are below. My answers to every one of them is No. What about yours?

1a) Should the National Security Agency or CIA have the ability to monitor foreign phone calls or e-mails without obtaining judicial approval?

1b) Should the National Security Agency or CIA have the ability to monitor domestic phone calls or e-mails with judicial approval?

1c) Should the National Security Agency or CIA have the ability to monitor foreign phone calls or e-mails with judicial approval?

2) Should the government have the ability to hold a citizen of a foreign country without charge, indefinitely, without access to a lawyer, if he is believed to be part of a terrorist cell?

3) Can you imagine a situation in which the government would be justified in waterboarding a citizen of a foreign country?

4) Are there foreign journalists who should be investigated for possible treason or other crimes against the United States? Should Sedition laws be re-introduced?

5) Should the CIA be able to legally assassinate people in countries with which the U.S. is at war?

6) Should any cops (whether concerned with terrorism or not) be given every single law-enforcement tool currently available in non-terrorist cases?

7a) Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a suspected (though not charged) foreign terrorist, and then sell it?

7b) Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a charged (though not convicted) American terrorist, and then sell it?

7c) Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a charged (though not convicted) foreign terrorist, and then sell it?

7d) Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a convicted American terrorist, and then sell it?

7e) Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a convicted foreign terrorist, and then sell it?

Now compare and contrast with your answers to these questions with the analogous questions from Matt Welch’s quiz. Are they the same or different? If they different, what, if anything justifies the difference in your answers?

I, too, would love to know.

1 reply to The A Fortiori War Powers Quiz, Take One Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Geekery Today:

    I feel safer already…

    (Via Anarchogeek 2006-12-03.) The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone’s microphone…

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