Sunday, March 23, 2008

Unclear and future danger

Is this censorship or what?

U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith said that in the past year, 39 al Qaeda members in Iraq responsible for producing and disseminating videos and other material to thousands of Internet Web sites had been captured or killed.

It's not censorship, but war. Information war.

"We think the vast majority of this media network has been degraded at this point," he said, adding that the arrests had led to fewer Internet postings of al Qaeda beheadings, kidnappings and other attacks in Iraq. ...

In February, U.S. intelligence monitoring of those Web sites showed 34 new postings of videos and audio material from Iraqi networks, down from 144 postings in June 2007, Smith said. "Those responsible for the more finished product, the stuff that really grabs the attention in mosques and elsewhere, we have those people on the run," he said.

But why is going after al-Qaeda's webmasters and content providers war and not censorship? What if a man like Johnny Walker Lindh or Adam Gadahn were discovered to be providing "the more finished product, the stuff that really grabs the attention in mosques"? Would action against them be justified or would they be protected?

Eugene Volokh tries to parse the meaning of the phrase "the Constitution is not a suicide pact" and produces a number of test scenarios, ranging from the strongest to weakest and examines the tradeoff between the freedom of expression and national danger.

Eugene Volokh presents 3 scenarios and asks which should be suppressed under the idea that the public is not in a "death pact".

  1. activity that would mean the nation's death as a free and independent country;
  2. activity that hinders but doesn't really significantly threaten the nation's death as a free and independent country;
  3. activity that would cause some loss in warmaking effectiveness, or some threat of death to soldiers or others.

He thinks the line is crossed based upon some trigger threshold which is hard to define. "The real issue is when certain behavior becomes so dangerous that this danger justifies a special constitutional rule that differs from the one used for normal dangers." And there is no "bright line" which marks the boundary.

The Bill of Rights is an accommodation of the demands of security and liberty, which is to say of security against criminals or foreign attackers and security against one’s own government. The rules that it sets forth, and that the Supreme Court has developed  under it, ought to cover the overwhelming majority of risks, even serious ones and even ones that arise in wartime.

But it's not clear that those rules, developed against the backdrop of ordinary dangers, can dispose of dangers that are orders of magnitude greater. This is why the usual Fourth Amendment rules related to suspicionless home searches might be stretched in cases involving the threat of nuclear terrorism; why we continue to have a debate about the propriety of torture in the ticking nuclear time bomb scenario; and why, in a somewhat different context, the Constitution provides for the suspension of habeas corpus in cases of rebellion or invasion.

Likewise, avoiding extraordinary harms-especially harms caused by information that helps others construct nuclear and biological weapons, weapons that can kill tens of thousands at once-may justify restrictions on speech that would facilitate the harms. The government might, for instance, prohibit publication of certain highly dangerous information, even when the information is generated by private entities that have never signed nondisclosure agreements with the government. In effect, research in these fields could then only be conducted by government employees or contractors, or at least people who are operating with government permission: They might be able to share their classified work product with others who have similar security clearances, but they couldn't engage in traditional open scientific discussion.

The restrictions would indeed interfere with legitimate scientific research, and with debates about public policy that require an understanding of such scientific details. For instance, if people weren't free to explain exactly how the terrorists might operate, then it would be harder to debate, for instance, whether the distribution of certain laboratory devices or precursor chemicals should be legal or not, or whether our civil defense strategies are adequate to deal with the possible threats. The restrictions may even prove counterproductive, especially if they are badly designed or if classified research into countermeasures is inevitably much less effective than open research: They might interfere with the good guys' ability to produce effective defenses-for instance, effective defenses against biological weapons, or effective detection mechanisms for smuggled nuclear bombs-more than they interfere with the bad guys' ability to create and deploy weapons.

My takeaway from Volokhs discussion as a non-lawyer is that there exists an inverse relationship between the existence of "extraordinary harms" and liberty. The more dangerous an environment the most restrictive it becomes. The more permissive an environment the greater are the liberties than can be enjoyed.

This inverse relationship is the reason why appeasement -- i.e. kicking the can down the road -- can be inimical the liberty. When a society's enemies are allowed to multiply the danger of "extraordinary harms" to the public under the color of freedom, liberty itself becomes the eventual victim. Giving an enemy leave to prepare dangers is a down payment on tyranny; the tradeoff between liberty in the present is sometimes restrictions in the future.

It is this temporal aspect -- the ability to shift the price of freedom across the years -- which becomes especially important in a Long War. In conflicts of short duration (like World War 2) populations are often willing to submit to severe restrictions on their liberties in the belief that the ordeal will soon be over. But when confrontations last over decades, like the Cold War or the current War on Terror, the court system needs rules which recognize the time value of danger on liberty aspect of the problem.

A judge must be able to apply something like a discount rate to a future danger not only with respect to the physical threats but also to the future costs to liberty. That makes a judge's job more complicated than it already is and opens the way for unjustified restrictions on present freedoms in the name of future dangers. But the evil cannot be wholly avoided, and it's possible that society is already subconsciously doing this (with wiretaps and databases) without a clear doctrine. In fact, the entire rationale for politically correct hate speech is based on restricting "hateful comments" now in order to protect society from "rage" down the track.  But here the temporal question should be examined explictly. It may be that restricting hateful comments now actually increases the both the likelihood of hateful comments and rage in the future.




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13 Comments:

Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Speaking of censorship, Hizbollah's favorite ISP has taken Geert Wilder's Fitna down.

This Is A Test

3/23/2008 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

It is a curiosity, as microchip technology generates more gadgets that are increasingly more intrusive on a personal individual privacy, youngsters are inclined to let go with the flow. the notion of privacy today is much different than it was in 1775, and yet it is taken for granted and guarded with less vigilance.

The notion of being secure in one person and papers has been eroded by tax law and technology both. Yet in order to make or allow the technology to function our citizens allow more and more access to their private matters.

That it until government gets involved in trying to pursue its obligation to preserve and protect. It is an interesting approach to the longterm necessity of waging protracted counterinsurgency. Is it fair to ask how much is necessary to preserve the lives of our soldiers? Is the too much to expect the NYT and senate aides to not reveal classified information? Is it treasonous to publish classified material knowing full well the resultant dangers it poses on diplomatic and military operations. What is the price for such disclosure? should the penalty be stiffer? What incentive is there to act in a manner consistent with the preservation of our nation and the dreams it holds for the next generation?

3/23/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Certainly abroad the US can and should do as it pleases. After 1979 clearly there are no rules and we should be able as a sovereign nation to do whatever suits us. If that means blowing up Al Jazeera, killing a few of it's anchors or reporters, or leaving them entirely alone it's up to us.

Abroad, there are no rules. All may thank the Ayatollah Khomeni for that development.

At home, I agree Wretchard it's a different story. Someone abroad who is making AQ videos, well heart-breaaaakkk as Chic Hearn used to say if they have a bad day. Such as Adam Gadahn. At home, the Constitution applies. But ...

I think lawyers and judges will err on the side of "situation normal" and proceed as if it's the happy-go-lucky 80's or 90's. No real threat. A holiday from history. Till something terrible happens, we lose cities, and we get measures that are awful just to survive.

It's like those shows with "Bear" Grylls or Les Stroud (Survivorman). They eat, and do things, they'd never normally do in a survival situation. It's easier to simply avoid it in the first place but human nature defers hard actions and choices until there is no other choice.

3/23/2008 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/24/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

3/24/2008 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I wonder if B. Hussein Obama and/or Rev. Hate Wright would nuke Fox News right about now if given the opportunity.

After all. what Obama does on his Sunday's *is* purely a personal decision, and the discussion instigated by Fox *could* be claimed to affect the whole nation in a future incarnation.

3/24/2008 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger LarryD said...

The Constitution, Article 3, Section 3

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

3/24/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

But why is going after al-Qaeda's webmasters and content providers war and not censorship?

Censorship is more frequently to do with morally questionable material and, not as often, issues of military security. That said, “al-Qaeda’s webmasters and content providers” have de facto declared war upon America and no longer enjoy or deserve any right to free speech. Going beyond this, to simply follow the Koran—and with it shari’a law—one instantly has declared war, be it ‘short’ or ‘long’, upon Western civilization and thereby abdicated all rights to free speech or any other freedoms for that matter.

The embarassing situation whereby most Western politicians cannot or abjectly refuse to recognize this basic problem in no way changes the essential fact that Muslims are self-declared enemies of democracy along with its constitutional law and must treated as such.

What if a man like Johnny Walker Lindh or Adam Gadahn were discovered to be providing "the more finished product, the stuff that really grabs the attention in mosques"? Would action against them be justified or would they be protected?

They already are—in one form or another—and merit nothing more or less than swift execution as traitors in a time of war.

"The real issue is when certain behavior becomes so dangerous that this danger justifies a special constitutional rule that differs from the one used for normal dangers." And there is no "bright line" which marks the boundary.
[Emphasis Added]

THERE MOST CERTAINLY IS A “BRIGHT LINE”. It’s called ISLAM. The Koran and all its followers represent an existential threat to accepted constitutional law and the liberties that it proclaims. No brighter line possible could be drawn. It is only the purblind multiculturalists that manage—or openly choose—to ignore this danger to all free people.

In effect, research in these fields could then only be conducted by government employees or contractors, or at least people who are operating with government permission: They might be able to share their classified work product with others who have similar security clearances, but they couldn't engage in traditional open scientific discussion.

This same logic needs to be extended one level further. As Whiskey_199 duly noted:

Certainly abroad the US can and should do as it pleases. After 1979 clearly there are no rules and we should be able as a sovereign nation to do whatever suits us … Abroad, there are no rules. All may thank the Ayatollah Khomeni for that development.

Khomeini’s purposeful violation of International Soil represented a fundamental refusal to participate as an honest player on the global stage. This has repeatedly been demonstrated by post-Khomeini Iran on numerous occasions. There is absolutely no binding reason why Iran should be granted the least courtesy of international diplomacy.

What’s more—as Ayn Rand observed—tyrannies have no sovereign rights. We do not owe Iran the time of day and have every right to crush Tehran’s theocratic dictatorship solely for its ongoing crimes against humanity. Past that, we have an almost greater obligation to ourselves—if not the world at large—to neutralize an openly terrorist regime before it manages to arm itself with nuclear weapons. We, as a free nation, are obliged to cripple all tyrannies that seek to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, or even WMDs of any sort.

In fact, to not do so would represent a fundamental violation of our commitment to democracy and human rights. Any willing assistance or perpetuation of Islam’s ongoing hudna—even by default or inaction—is a betrayal of our own survival and that of all free people. Islam is the singlemost virulent foe of liberty that history has even known. It is only its industrial—and, ergo, military—retardation that has prevented it from fulfilling such a role in modern times. With the advent of electronic communications and advanced technology, all of that is about to change for the very worst.

My takeaway from Volokhs discussion as a non-lawyer is that there exists an inverse relationship between the existence of "extraordinary harms" and liberty. The more dangerous an environment the most restrictive it becomes.

And it is for this same reason that Islam’s continued existence will most assuredly propagate an even more restrictive environment in the West as Muslims pursue the development of even more “extraordinary harms”. They do this right now and—barring any intervention—will only grow in their capacity to inflict these grievous injuries upon free nations.

When a society's enemies are allowed to multiply the danger of "extraordinary harms" to the public under the color of freedom, liberty itself becomes the eventual victim. Giving an enemy leave to prepare dangers is a down payment on tyranny; the tradeoff between liberty in the present is sometimes restrictions in the future.
[Emphasis Added]

As YorkshireMiner (AKA Pat Condell) noted in his latest online diatribe, “Appeasing Islam”, by following the canons of Politically Correct thought and Multiculturalism we are already making that “down payment on tyranny”.

If we can’t bring ourselves to say what ‘s in our hearts when it truly matters, then we’ve already given up our freedom and with it, the freedom of future generations. Which is something that we’ve got no right to do. We didn’t earn this freedom, it was handed to us on a plate by people who did earn it with their lives. We don’t own it, we’re custodians of it. It’s not ours to give away.

So long as Islam continues to exist in its current form there will be a constant and persistent erosion of our freedoms. To repeat: By not repaying Islam with the Total War it has already declared upon the West we are making that “down payment on tyranny”. Far better that we vanquish this clear and present danger than submit to any further loss of freedoms, either at the hands of Islam or by our own legal safeguards.

Machiavelli’s quote about revenge will only increase in pertinence with each passing day that we neglect our solemn duty to crush the Islamic foe:

"For it must be noted, that men must either be caressed or else annihilated; they will revenge themselves for small injuries, but cannot do so for great ones; the injury therefore that we do to a man must be such that we need not fear his revenge."

Never has there been a more binary choice with respect to our options in dealing with Islam. Either we embrace it or annihilate it, there is no middle ground. This stark reality is not of our own doing. It is imposed upon us by Islam and represents an intrinsic aspect of Muslim culture that can only be responded to accordingly. Remember:

ISLAM WILL NOT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY.

3/24/2008 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

If the mafia recorded a hit so it could use the video for intimidation, would the production team be covered by the First Amendment? Hell no. They would be part of a criminal conspiracy. AQ's propaganda masters are part of their war effort against the US. That makes them a legitimate target. It's not complicated.

3/24/2008 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger OmegaPaladin said...

You have no right to publish enemy propaganda in a war zone. The first amendment is not some aura that surrounds Americans, it is the right of American citizens. The military is good to keep on these propagandists.

Zenster,
"Either we embrace it or annihilate it, there is no middle ground."
If you aren't implying some kind of Islamocide, I really don't know what the hell you are referring to here. (Funny, you said I liked throw around the genocide card without reason.) If I were you, I would go classical for the more stylish route: simply end all your posts with Islam delenda est! This sounds an awful lot like a Carthagean peace, anyway.

Was it wrong of us to not exterminate the Japanese and/or Shinto? Shinto has a long tradition of following a god-emperor and believing in the innate superiority of Japanese people. The kamikazes were motivated by a belief in state shinto granting a special place in the afterlife for martyrs. After we defeated them, Shinto changed to much more peaceful version we see now. If we can shatter the scimitar of Jihad and Irhab, perhaps something similar can occur in Islam. In Iraq, you can see proof that Muslims can choose to work with Westernenrs

3/24/2008 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger BetaCygni said...

The "discount rate to a future danger" is what Newt Gingrich was talking about in a recent post.

Think about the consequences to civil liberties (freely given up, Newt says) if there is another mass casualty attack against the U.S. Weigh that against something like the revision to FISA that the Democrats in the House are blocking which is hampering our efforts to snoop on terrorists.

Think also about what the reaction would be if it turns out that terrorists deployed a WMD with components smuggled over the southern border of the U.S. How would that change the debate about illegal immigration?

3/25/2008 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

OmegaPaladin: If you aren't implying some kind of Islamocide, I really don't know what the hell you are referring to here.

Here's a clue: Annihilating Islam involves eliminating its practice on a global basis. This should be done by outlawing it in all Western countries and halting all trade, including food and medical supples, with Muslim majority nations until such a time when Islam is no longer practiced and shari'a law is abandoned.

I'd rather not see this world's Muslim population die. That said, I refuse to allow some 20% of this world's people impose their barbaric cult upon 100% of this planet's human life. Them doing so would likely result in the death of some 50% of all living beings. If I am asked to decide between 20% and 50%, you can bet the farm on my answer.

Do you honestly think that if the tables were turned that any of us would still be alive or unconverted? Given our weaponry and control of trade, Muslims would have laid waste to the West over a century ago. I invite you to provide any sort of cogent counterargument to this statement.

Was it wrong of us to not exterminate the Japanese and/or Shinto?

We did no such thing. Neither did we "exterminate the Japanese" nor did we abolish Shintoism. What we did do was fundamentally emasculate a primary ideological feature of the Japanese Imperial government by forcing their emperor to publicly renounce his divine status. Islam has no emperor nor any central authority by which such a change might be imposed. Please do not compare apples and oranges.

Shinto has a long tradition of following a god-emperor and believing in the innate superiority of Japanese people. The kamikazes were motivated by a belief in state shinto granting a special place in the afterlife for martyrs. After we defeated them, Shinto changed to much more peaceful version we see now. If we can shatter the scimitar of Jihad and Irhab, perhaps something similar can occur in Islam.

It would be kind to say that your hope for reform in Islam is merely delusional. In fact, it is dangerous. Islam has reformed. It has become more violent, more puritanical and more intolerant. Please reconcile how there can be any authentic or genuine reformation when Islamic doctrine contains taqiyya?

How shall we know that Muslims have ever certifiably renounced taqiyya or any other abhorrent aspect of their death cult?

Condiser three essential foundations of Islam: jihad, shari'a and the global caliphate. Remove even one of these three components and you render Islam alien to itself. Any one of them is fatally toxic to Western civilization. In combination they represent an existential threat of profound proportions.

How do you propose that Islam reform itself?

Ijtihad has been forbidden for almost a millennia. Attempting to alter the Koran's text is a capital crime. Even discussing reformation is haram.

In Iraq, you can see proof that Muslims can choose to work with Westernenrs

What proof do you have that this is not merely hudna?

Answer: YOU DON'T. Taqiyya assures that fact.

Please review the video program "Relentless", which documents the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process".

After doing so I would enjoy seeing you explain how the West is to expect anything even slightly different from what Israel has experienced. You'll also need to provide concrete historical references that illustrate previously peaceful coexistence between Westerners and Muslims in order to begin making your point.

Wherever Islam goes, it brings with it a blight of human misery, slavery, injustice and oppression. This has been the case throughout its entire history. I look forward to you explaining how this will suddenly change. Especially as Muslim majority nations are finally edging towards the threshold of nuclear weaponry. Nothing else in the history of Islam could make Muslim majority nations less prone to "reformation" than accession to WMDs. Yet, you envision some miraculous change of heart from a cult that sworn itself to our destruction by any means necessary.

Again, I would appreciate you somehow illuminating what would justify any reasonable expectation of a 180° turnaround for what has historically been one of the most recalcitrant ideologies in all history. Make my day.

3/25/2008 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger OmegaPaladin said...

Zenster,

First, you misunderstood me completely about Shinto. We DID NOT destroy Shinto, we defeated it battle and forced it to reform. I was asking if we should have eliminated them instead of our actual strategy.

Second, you refer to hudna and Taqiyya. How exactly will you be sure that people in the US aren't secretly Muslims? Any Muslim would be deceiving you by pretending to be a Christian or atheist just like you assume the Iraqis are pretending to like us. Anyone you know could secretly be a Muslim . The AQ bastards who murdered our citizens on 9/11 acted quite secular, and hit up the bars and clubs before going on their jihad.

Finally, you have made Muslims out to be demons of terrible power. They can lie and deceive to the point of actually killing their true allies and risking their lives to help their enemies. They are so dangerous that we must avoid all contact with them. Seriously, you are scared of the irhabi death cultists. I think you are giving them too much credit.

We are living in Western civilization, the cradle of knowledge, the birthplace of democracy, the recipients of a mighty warrior tradition far older than Mohammad. If we didn't have so much second-guessing of our own civilization, the global jihad would not be a menace to us. It's not like the British Empire had to outlaw Islam to hold off the Turks.

By the way, I'm not trying to get you to stop posting or anything like that. We live in a free country, you can offend Muslims all you want. I wouldn't have it any other way.

3/26/2008 04:09:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

OmegaPaladin: you misunderstood me completely about Shinto. We DID NOT destroy Shinto, we defeated it battle and forced it to reform. I was asking if we should have eliminated them instead of our actual strategy.

Agreed, upon review I noted your "not" that I had missed before.

Shintoism in no way posed or poses the same level of threat that Islam does. Nor was it so heavily freighted with such a profound abuse of human rights. Islam's entire structure makes it absolutely toxic to Western civilization and needs to be treated accordingly.

Second, you refer to hudna and Taqiyya. How exactly will you be sure that people in the US aren't secretly Muslims? Any Muslim would be deceiving you by pretending to be a Christian or atheist just like you assume the Iraqis are pretending to like us. Anyone you know could secretly be a Muslim . The AQ bastards who murdered our citizens on 9/11 acted quite secular, and hit up the bars and clubs before going on their jihad.

You fairly well answer yourself. Does not such religiously sanctioned lying strike you as incredibly evil? Taqiyya represents an ultimate moral crime. Its embrace of taqiyya makes Islam suspect in all cases and a fundamental violation of the social contract. There is no way on earth any civilized society is obliged to tolerate that sort of deceit.

Finally, you have made Muslims out to be demons of terrible power. They can lie and deceive to the point of actually killing their true allies and risking their lives to help their enemies. They are so dangerous that we must avoid all contact with them. Seriously, you are scared of the irhabi death cultists. I think you are giving them too much credit.

Not all Muslims are demons. That in no way alters the simple fact that even decent Muslims damn themselves by either refusing to make a more outward condemnation of their terrorist co-religionists or, worse, tacitly accepting terrorist atrocities.

I am not "scared" of Islam's death cult. It simply strikes me as something that has long outlived any usefulness to the modern world and constantly perpetrates even more crimes against humanity. Further:

ISLAM HAS NO REDEEMING FEATURES.

This single fact makes its elimination a priority.

Communism, and especially Chinese communism, is a much larger threat but does not loom so near our event horizon as the danger of terrorist nuclear attacks. MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) works to a sufficient degree with China while it has almost no value in addressing Islamic imperialism.

By the way, I'm not trying to get you to stop posting or anything like that. We live in a free country, you can offend Muslims all you want. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Permit me to assure you that nothing in your comments could honestly be construed in that way. We are all immensely privileged to live in a free country where we can agree to disagree. I most certainly wouldn't have that any other way.

I STILL would like to hear your explanation of why you think that Islamic reformation is possible. My own perception is that only when Muslims find themselves in danger of going extinct will they be motivated to pacify or rewrite their violent screed. To date, the entire historical record indicates this and nothing in the realm of current events dictates otherwise.

3/26/2008 06:44:00 PM  

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