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Who Says Freedom is Safe?

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  • Who Says Freedom is Safe?

    The choice between freedom and security faces every society and every generation; it is a trade-off which is neither easy nor obvious, beyond the obvious wisdom of Ben Franklin’s famous observation that, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    Of course, that still leaves us to grapple with questions like which liberties are “essential,” and how “little” and how*”temporary” is the safety we purchase with them.

    The complexity of this was driven home by recent revelations from Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson. Wilkerson served in the United States Army for over thirty years and then served as chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. Hundreds of the detainees a Guantanamo, according to Wilkerson, were innocent, and the highest officials of the Bush administration knew they were innocent, but continued to detain them to avoid the political embarrassment attendant to admitting a mistake.

    Bear in mind this is not someone from outside the Bush administration, or from the opposite political camp; it is a veteran serving officer and high-ranking member of the former administration. And this is not about comparing one administration to the other – it is about the limits of government’s ability to imprison an individual without showing cause. The problem with facilities like Guantanamo is that if you give any administration the power to just round up anyone it feels like, it will end up imprisoning innocent people out of political expediency. Actually, the Bush administration didn’t end up ...




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