Why We Won’t Be Reading Alan Dershowitz’s ‘Security vs. Civil Liberties’ Boston Globe Series

September 15, 2014

The undoubtable Alan Dershowitz has penned a five-part polemic for the Boston Globe, promoted this way on Page One of yesterday’s edition:

 

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And here’s the first installment in the series, published in yesterday’s Ideas section.

War of principles

How should a democracy decide when to compromise its ideals in pursuit of victory?

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WHEN DEMOCRACIES seek to protect their citizens against new threats posed by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, and Boko Haram, the old rules — designed for conventional warfare among nations — sometimes become anachronistic. New balances must be struck between preserving people’s civil liberties and protecting them against terrorist violence. As Aharon Barak, the former president of the Supreme Court of Israel — a nation that has confronted this issue over many decades — once put it: “Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand.”

Barak was right on two scores: The commitment to the rule of law constrains democracies in fighting terrorists who have no concern for international law; yet although we must fight terrorism with one hand behind our back, that does not mean that we cannot use the other hand forcefully, effectively, and legally.

 

So why skip the five-part series?

Start with this gonna-drive-us-nuts graf:

None of these issues is amenable to simple answers. They require nuance and calibration — qualities often lost in the emotional debates engendered by the controversial practices employed against terrorists.

 

Nuance and calibration?

Sounds a lot like “roll your own.”

That’s a one-part series as far as we’re concerned.


Tabloid Trumpets Terror Techie

September 5, 2014

Today’s Boston Herald goes to town on local boy gone bad Ahmad Abousamra, the Stoughton man wanted for terrorism and suspected of being a social-media guru for ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State – whatever name they’re going by these days.

 

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Inside, the Terror Techie gets the Full Osama.

 

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Get it – Post-er? Yeah, us too.

The news report itself is straight out of Tabloid 101 (with four – count ’em, four – bylines):

A 32-year-old computer whiz who was raised in Stoughton is suspected of using the high-tech skills he honed at Hub colleges to spread the bloodthirsty message of ISIS terrorists on social media, according to a Herald source and news reports.

Ahmad Abousamra — who was educated at Northeastern University and UMass Boston — had already been placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list last year with a $50,000 reward offered for information leading to his capture and return.

The FBI said Abousamra “has shown that he wants to kill United States soldiers.”

He is now believed to be a social media warrior for the heartless terrorists behind the recent beheadings of two Americans.

 

Wow.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, Abousamra gets more measured treatment:

Mass. terrorist suspect may be aiding militants

The spotlight that has been cast on the Islamic State terror group in Syria has also put a new focus on a Massachusetts man wanted for terrorism, who is believed to 2012-10-03T204235Z_01_TOR605_RTRMDNP_3_USA-SECURITY-ABOUSAMRAbe living in that country and possibly supporting ISIS.

Ahmad Abousamra, who grew up in Stoughton and attended schools in the Boston area, faces terrorism charges in federal court in Boston, and the FBI in December put him on its Most Wanted Terrorists list. A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to his capture, and officials believe he has been living in Aleppo, Syria.

 

The Globe story did contain one fact the Herald missed: “Lowell Police Sergeant Thomas Daly – a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force . . . said Abousamra has a ‘high-pitched voice that would distinguish him from others.’'”

Presumably not, however, as high-pitched as the freaky local tabloid’s.