Monday, December 19, 2011

Quote for the Day

In the wake of President Obama's disastrous decision to codify into law the Bush/Cheney position on indefinite detention, I thought it appropriate to pull down a wonderful passage written in 2006 by the recently late Christopher Hitchens.  Hat tip Andrew Sullivan, compiling all of Hitch's greatest quotes over the years. 
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. I need hardly add that wire-tapping is only one of the many areas in which this holds true.  The better the ostensible justification for an infringement upon domestic liberty, the more suspicious one ought to be of it. We are hardly likely to be told that the government would feel less encumbered if it could dispense with the Bill of Rights.

But a power or a right, once relinquished to one administration for one reason, will unfailingly be exploited by successor administrations, for quite other reasons. It is therefore of the first importance that we demarcate, clearly and immediately, the areas in which our government may or may not treat us as potential enemies.


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