Consider the powers granted to Mr. Bruguiere and his colleagues. Warrantless wiretaps? Not a problem under French law, as long as the Interior Ministry approves. Court-issued search warrants based on probable cause? Not needed to conduct a search. Hearsay evidence? Admissible in court. Habeas corpus? Suspects can be held and questioned by authorities for up to 96 hours without judicial supervision or the notification of third parties. Profiling? French officials commonly boast of having a "spy in every mosque." A wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement agencies? France's domestic and foreign intelligence bureaus work hand-in-glove. Bail? Authorities can detain suspects in "investigative" detentions for up to a year. Mr. Bruguiere once held 138 suspects on terrorism-related charges. The courts eventually cleared 51 of the suspects--some of whom had spent four years in preventive detention--at their 1998 trial.I may be a powerful executive, lock-'em-all-up neo-con fascist, but I just can't get behind this at all. I can't tell if Stephens is endorsing it per se, but he clearly thinks it's worth thinking about.
I think we can fight this enemy without shredding our due process tradition like that. I think we have the tools in our own Constitution to aggressively defend ourselves here at home, especially if we remain willing to fight threats overseas. Despite the problems in Iraq, I firmly believe it has already been (and continues to be) a success for America - if for no other reason than it continues to be a sink for Jihadi money, manpower, planning, and weaponry. I am convinced that our presence in Iraq (and wider robust military approach) is directly responsible for the failure of any terror organization large or small to mount an attack in the US since 9/11 more substantial than a single gunman in Seattle, another lone attacker in Salt Lake City (brought down by a citizen with a gun), and a sidewalk-driver in San Francisco. Despite the wailings of the anti-Bush crowd and self-professed civil libertarians, we've had that success while keeping our basic rights well in tact - certainly no less so than in any past conflict our nation has been involved in.
This is one of the very real ways our military is protecting our freedoms, directly, right here and now. I hope Congress considers this before putting those freedoms at risk by thinking we can simply hide here at home behind our porous borders and our libertarian Bill of Rights.