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Nov 30, 2006

On the State

The Wronged Man (Washington Post)
Unjustly Imprisoned and Mistreated, Khaled al-Masri Wants Answers the U.S. Government Doesn't Want to Give
Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, November 29, 2006; Page C01, RICHMOND, Nov. 28

Khaled al-Masri was supposed to have been disappeared by black-hooded CIA paramilitaries in the dead of night. One minute he was riding a bus in Macedonia, the next -- poof -- gone. Grabbed by Macedonian agents, handed off to junior CIA operatives in Skopje and then secretly flown to a prison in Afghanistan that didn't officially exist, to be interrogated with rough measures that weren't officially on the books. And then never to be heard from again -- one fewer terrorist in the post-9/11 world.

... Dressed in white shirt sleeves and a modest maroon vest, Masri is waiting to see if the judges will allow the CIA to disappear [his case].

... [The CIA argues], citing the state-secrets privilege, that to proceed with the case would damage national security and that this damage outweighs any legal rights Masri may have.

I would like to point out that this essentially amounts to the point that says: if the state is threatened, in a real verifiable way or in a perceived way, then the state should be able to do whatever it wants to take care of itself. It doesn't matter who you trample on.

This is the same argument that has been used and which is continually used to keep information classified (even though the real purpose is only to protect people who made unacceptable authorizations and orders), to intern Japanese in internment camps (Wiki-- In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the exclusion, removal, and detention, arguing that it is permissible to curtail the civil rights of a racial group when there is a "pressing public necessity"), to do just about anything that's clearly unconstitutional. And there simply isn't and never was a good enough reason. The system rests on the proposition that rights guaranteed in the constitution are not granted by the government, but natural rights that nobody may be deprived of.

This is related to another article:

Iranian President Makes Direct Appeal to Americans (Washington Post)
In an unusual letter to the American people, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday called for the pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq and charged that Bush administration policy is based on "coercion, force and injustice."

The five-page letter, which was both conciliatory in references to "Noble Americans" and scathing in lambasting Jewish influence in the United States, said there is an urgent need for dialogue between Iranians and Americans because of the "tragic consequences" of U.S. intervention abroad.

Leaving aside that the Iranian president has no room to make such criticism, the thing is he's right-- about the policy based on coercion, force, and injustice. It is the basis of how all states operate. They coerce their people into various degrees of obedience, even for idiotic laws,
always with the threat of their legal monopoly on force in the background.

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