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Balkinization

Triple-Threat to Our Security: International Fora, Judicial Processes and Terrorism The Administration has released its official National Defense St

Triple-Threat to Our Security: International Fora, Judicial Processes and Terrorism

The Administration has released its official National Defense Strategy. One of the purported "key assumptions" upon which U.S. national defense strategy is based is the following U.S. "vulnerability" (page 5): "Our strength as a nation state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism."

Boy, if they're willing to say that in such a prominent public document, one shudders to imagine what they say in private about "international fora" and "judicial processes." More chilling still is this editorial from the Washington Times. The problem, you see, is that the enemy not only knows what our laws are -- it also knows that we "observe the laws of war." Yes, if only we weren't so enamoured of that pesky ol' rule of law, winning wars would be oh so much easier.

This is a theme one increasingly hears as a justification for avoiding all public deliberation about the law of interrogation and torture -- such as discussion of which forms of interrogation are lawful: In theory, torture is forbidden, but Al Qaeda detainees must be made to think that the law is uncertain -- that torture just may be possible -- so that the threat of extreme interrogation techniques is credible (which is said to be the only way to elicit information from these crafty foes). In other words, our law must reamin opaque so that the threat of torture and inhumane treatment remains credible. (Never mind that such threats are themselves unlawful.)

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