The Castle

At the age of 19, Murat Kurnaz vanished into America’s shadow prison system in the war on terror. He was from Germany, traveling in Pakistan, and was picked up three months after 9/11. But there seemed to be ample evidence that Kurnaz was an innocent man with no connection to terrorism. The FBI thought so, U.S. intelligence thought so, and German intelligence agreed. But once he was picked up, Kurnaz found himself in a prison system that required no evidence and answered to no one. [CBS News]

There’s Always Hope

I hope that Barack Obama will win the Democratic Party’s nomination. And I hope this, despite some evidence to the contrary, because I hope that he will not be Tweedledee to John McCain’s Tweedledum. I know Hillary Clinton would be. In her campaign speeches she’s taken to briefly mentioning defending the Constitution and our liberties, but her personal track record in this regard is not good. And if one includes her husband’s presidency — and for some reason her campaign wishes you to — then it is not at all better, and similar to President Bush’s in intent if not in scope: President Clinton had a hostile Congress.

I hope the President-elect, of whichever party, will appoint Bruce Schneier to a Cabinet post involving national security. We need to move beyond fear and brave the calculated risks of freedom.

I hope that the President- and Congress-elect will come to their senses, and repeal the PATRIOT Act, the REAL ID Act, and numerous other laws passed out of fear which contribute nothing to our security but hinder our liberties.

I hope that we enter a period of fiscal responsibility characterized by low taxes and governmental restraint.

I hope that I am not disappointed.

Borders

Perhaps because I’m not an international actor, it has always struck me as strange the reverence given to borders. They are, for states, like property rights are for an individual, inviolable. Borders are, to a great extent, an accident of history, settled through the time-honored mechanisms of war, diplomacy, and the maxim that possession is nine-tenths of the law. Trouble arises when lines are drawn on a map without the willing participation of those who live there, and assumed to have the same settled nature as more accidental lands. But even more arises when they are inflexible.

An article in The Atlantic Monthly wonders what the Middle-East will be like After Iraq,” and suggests, perhaps, that the artificial borders in the region might give way to arrangements somewhat more organic.

Kick the Ankle Biters

One Howard Kurtz appears to be employed by The Washington Post to read the web and regurgitate it with perspective. Must be nice. A while back, in evaluating whether Hillary Clinton had any hope against the swell of support behind Barack Obama, he wrote:

Here’s another example [of how Obama has not faced tough criticism from the press], from the conservative side. How many stories even took note of Obama’s vote on a Bush-backed bill to expand the government’s surveillance powers?

“As good of a campaign as Obama has run,” says Bull Dog Pundit, “you do wonder if he’s really given any thought to the fact that he actually might become the president. How else to explain his ‘No’ vote on a bill that was overwhelmingly supported 67-31.”

Perhaps he voted that way because the bill is wrong and unnecessary.

But why does Mr. Kurtz assume that Senator Obama would be pilloried for not giving the Executive everything it wants? Perhaps this vote appeals, not, as the ankle biter suggests, to “his far-left base,” but to his far-right base, and to innocent Americans world-wide.