16 November 2010

Andrew Sullivan writes in response to Glenn Greenwald:

I have no desire to prevent the ACLU or CCR from doing what they are doing. That is their right. But I sympathize with one board member of CCR who has reservations about this. The reason? Awlaki is not imprisoned; he has not been seized extra-judicially and tortured. What makes this different from defending the rights of terror suspects who are already under our physical control and in our custody (which I have not stinted in doing) is that Awlaki isn't. He is currently a core member of the faction of al Qaeda that is actively trying to murder us. You will find no such account of Awlaki's record of despicable Jihadist terror in Glenn's post. As for "imminent" and "immediate" threat, maybe Glenn could have a word with the cartoonist for Seattle Weekly who, even now, is living in hiding and has had to change her name because of Awlaki's fatwa of death against her. I'm sure she regards the threat as imminent.

And, at some point, standing up for her - and for Glenn's and my right to speak freely - seems to me more important than defending Awlaki's free speech, rather than noticing his enmeshment in a lethal al Qaeda faction that has already tried to murder countless innocents in the name of holy war.


It seems that Andrew believes al-Qaeda, which has failed to kill any Americans in America for nine years, two months, and counting, is still an "imminent and immediate threat." Of course Awlaki has acted despicably, and I would never minimize the emotional impact of a fatwa upon any author. Yet due process is due process, Andrew, even when the bad guy is a crazy Muslim. We might as well be living in North Korea if we throw constitutional rights out the window when it comes to people who have gotten themselves "enmeshed in a lethal faction."

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