Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The core of the argument

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From Greenwald’s column:

… The President doesn’t have some broad, vague duty to "protect Americans."  The Constitution really couldn’t be clearer about the President’s primary responsibility:  it’s to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.  Sometimes, the duty actually assigned by the Constitution is consistent with the duty to Keep Us Safe, but many times, Constitutional imperatives are, by design, in conflict with the goal of maximum security. 

It’s just so basic to our entire system of government that some Constitutional guarantees will impede efforts to maximize public safety (barring the police from searching homes without probable cause might make it more difficult to apprehend a dangerous criminal; banning double jeopardy and self-incrimination, and guaranteeing the right to counsel, might make it more difficult to convict a dangerous criminal; the guarantee of due process, free speech and a free press can make war-fighting more difficult).  But that’s the central choice the Founders made:  that there are more important values than maximizing safety.  If they didn’t think that way, they would never have risked fighting the most powerful military on earth — all for some abstract political liberty.  By itself, that choice reflects the view that there are more important goals then keeping us safe.  Tyrannies might be the best guardians of national security (though it is highly dubious that indefinitely locking up Muslims with no trial and no charges will Keep Us Safe), but either way:  the U.S. wasn’t created to be a National Security State.  That’s why the Constitution imposes numerous limits on the government that conflict with maximization of safety, and it’s why the President is required to swear to defend the Constitution, not do everything possible to Keep Us Safe.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2009 at 9:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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