A Disregard for Constitution and Ethics
DANIEL SCHORR: The English gave us the ancient principle of habeas corpus; loosely translated, show us the body. Our own Constitution gave us the ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
NPR's senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: The French gave us raison d'etat in the state's or the national interest. In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration cited the national interest in combating terrorism to justify restraints on civil liberties. The judiciary, up to the Supreme Court, has been wrestling with the detention of so-called terrorism suspects without trial, without even formal accusation. When challenged, the administration has asserted the right to harsh interrogation in the interest of averting planned attacks.
That has given us the Guantanamo Bay controversy, and now, the stunning revelation of the destruction of hundreds of hours of videotape CIA interrogations, presumably involving torture. There will be investigations. But Jose Rodriguez, the former head of CIA Clandestine Services, reportedly told colleagues he thinks he acted lawfully and had the authority to destroy the tapes.
Raison d'etat, you might say. You might also call it raison d'etat when national intelligence director Mike McConnell writes in The New York Times under the catchy headline, "Help Me Spy on al-Qaida," that the so-called Protect America Act should be renewed by Congress. That's the law that permits massive monitoring of communications.
McConnell says the intelligence community should spend its time protecting the nation, not protecting the liberties of foreign terrorists. That's raison d'etat in the post-9/11 era.
This is Daniel Schorr.
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