Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 4, 2008 / 1 Tamuz, 5768

Obama, patriotism, and terrorism

By Robert Robb

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Barack Obama doesn't want his patriotism questioned.


Liberals believe that their patriotism is being unfairly maligned all the time. There is some justification for this. There are those on the right who openly equate liberalism with treason.


However, there is more going on here than that. Liberals don't only object to direct attacks on their patriotism, which are objectionable.


Liberals also tend to regard any criticism of their positions on national security issues as an attack on their patriotism. Here what is objectionable is their attempt to hide behind patriotism to shield themselves from such criticism.


The liberal logic goes something like this: Protecting the country is patriotic. Criticizing my national security positions is saying that I won't protect the country. Therefore, it is an attack on my patriotism.


When Republicans raise national security issues, Democrats accuse them of trying to use scare tactics to divide the country and impugn the patriotism of those who disagree.


The implication of the liberal position is that national security issues should not be discussed in political campaigns.


That's nuts. Elections are where policy choices are made. And there are no more important policy choices than about how to best protect the country.


Moreover, the threat of international terrorism is scary. And, although neither Obama nor John McCain is offering it, the country needs a new consensus about how best to protect it against terrorist attacks.


A new book by the Brookings Institution's Benjamin Wittes, Law and the Long War, offers a useful start on such a new consensus.


Wittes' basic contention is that protecting this country against international terrorism doesn't fit comfortably within the framework of either war or criminal justice.


Congress in essence declared war against al-Qaida after 9/11. And some of the effort to protect the country against terrorism involves military action.


The effort also depends heavily on the use of law enforcement tools to detect, disrupt and incapacitate terrorists. But terrorists are a national security threat in a way that a burglar is not.


Wittes believes that the country needs new laws in the areas of surveillance, interrogation and detention to fit the unique nature of terrorism and its threat.


These would be created by Congress and not rely on the inherent war powers of the president. As Wittes points out, extraordinary presidential authority during wartime is acceptable in part because of the assumption that the authority will be wielded for a relatively defined and short period of time. The fight against terrorism, however, is less defined and without an obvious conclusion. In such circumstances, the American tradition of checks and balances needs to come more into play.


So, Wittes would grant to the government greater authority to protect the country against terrorist attacks than exists in criminal law. But with checks and balances that don't exist in the prosecution of a war.


Institutional reform is also needed. As Richard Posner has pointed out, in his book Uncertain Shield and other writings, the post 9/11 reforms were badly botched.


A bureaucratically sluggish Department of Homeland Security was created. For intelligence agencies, reform added a new layer of bureaucracy at the top and confused reporting relationships throughout.


Worst, domestic intelligence was left primarily with the FBI, rather than put in a separate agency devoted exclusively to that function. We need a first-rate crime-solving capability in the federal government. And we need a first-rate domestic intelligence capability to protect the country against terrorist attack.


As Posner observes, it defies everything we know about both the tasks involved and organizational theory to believe that the same federal agency can be both. Moreover, a separate organization would help ensure that the additional authority Wittes advocates to protect the country against terrorism doesn't leak into other areas.


The best time to forge this new consensus was after 9/11. Not doing so is the Bush administration's greatest failure. Instead, the Bush administration asserted unchecked authority that contravened the nation's traditions and laws.


The next president is likely to have a honeymoon of some sort, in which there will be some deference given to his policies. This is shaping up as a domestic policy election, so the temptation will be to use this political capital for the issues that win the election. And that's understandable.


However, there might also be an opportunity for the new president to attempt to forge a new consensus on protecting the country against terrorism.


Not doing so wouldn't be unpatriotic. But doing so would serve, and might immeasurably better protect, the country.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Robert Robb is a columnist for The Arizona Republic. Comment by clicking here.

Robert Robb Archives

© 2008, The Arizona Republic

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles