Rachel Maddow is incensed at Obama’s proposed prolonged detention policy.  Says it’s even worse than Bush’s, that it is unprecedented.  I fear in the rush to undo Bush’s disaster, liberals are going too far.

First off, let’s remind ourselves that we are talking about prisoners of war, not U.S. citizens, and they have absolutely no rights under our bill of rights or our constitution.

Now, setting aside the immediate realities of Guantanamo (that some detainees now are un-prosecutable, and that should we set them free they will most surely attack us), the fact is that something unprecedented IS needed, because the world has changed and we face very different threats:

We used to have conventional wars, against states that could be invaded and/or contained.  Prisoners, captured in the battle field, would be held until a truce or surrender signed, and all threats defused.

But in the new world of asymmetric conflicts the enemy can be a handful of individuals, operating across any number of friendly and unfriendly states, potentially able to inflict widespread damage.

So how do we treat enemy prisoners during a long, creeping struggle, when evidence may be no more than having received bomb training?   And at the same time how do we make sure we don’t end up picking up people indiscriminately?  I don’t know, but I’m very very encouraged by Obama’s speech:

In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man.  If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight.

Maddow even goes as far as likening the policy to Minority Report’s Precrime Unit.  Please Rachel, this is war: We don’t wait for an enemy soldier to kill one of ours and then charge them with murder.  The mere fact that they are on the battlefield holding a weapon is enough to take them (and keep them) prisoner.

It’s all about dignity

February 28, 2009

I’ve heard so many definitions of ‘liberal’.

Like this one: “He’ll do anything to prove he’s a good guy. He’s a liberal” from the movie The Color of Justice.  It’s cynical and clever, but not right.

Instead, I love this one from one of Andrew Sullivan’s readers:

I came to this country and worked hard also.. and, like you, have been lucky enough to be successful.  This country is wonderful that way – if you work hard you have a good chance of being successful.  But many people work very, very hard and are not successful – and not because they are stupid, or lazy.  The difference between Obama and his predecessors is that he realizes that the people who work hard and don’t make a lot of money, or work hard and don’t have health insurance, or who worked hard all their lives and now – in their golden years- have little to show for it also deserve some minimum level of dignity.

And yes, someone has to pay for it, and I’m happy for it to be me and people like me, because there for but for the grace of God.  It’s not punishing the successful, it’s realizing that hard work is only part of the equation and we as a society need to recognize our obligations to those people who have held up their part of the bargain but didn’t end up on the winning side (and children get an automatic pass).

I don’t know if he considers himself a liberal, but his feelings are also mine, and I do.