Posted by Thomas Nephew on 18th September 2009
This post announces an ambitious and possibly quixotic effort — the attempt of a legal layperson like myself to launch and carry on a discussion about Benjamin Wittes’ “Law and the Long War: The Future of Justice in the Age of Terror,” published in 2008.
Luckily, I’ll be joined in this discussion by my friend “The Talking Dog,” whose legal acumen and training — as well as self-deprecating wit and engaging writing — are always in evidence at his blog of the same name. “TD’s” interviews of lawyers, policy makers, human rights leaders (most recently with NYU’s Karen Greenberg), and even Guantanamo detainees have been genuine journalism, and are among the finest things the American blogosphere has produced.
Our plan is to take the book chapter by chapter, at no precise schedule other than to take the chapters in sequence. We hope readers will check Wittes’ book out from the library, borrow it from a friend, or buy a copy for themselves, so they can read along with us and join the discussions we hope for.
We’ve tentatively decided to divide the chapters up as follows:
Announcements – here at newsrackblog and the talking dog
Introduction – discussions at both newsrackblog and the talking dog
Chapter 1. The Law of September 10 – discussion here at newsrackblog
Chapter 2. The Administration’s Response – discussion at talking dog
Chapter 3. The Real Guantanamo – discussion at the talking dog
Chapter 4. The Necessity and Impossibility of Judicial Review – discussion here at newsrackblog
Chapter 5. The Case for Congress – discussion here at newsrackblog
Chapter 6. The Twin Problems of Detention and Trial – discussion at the talking dog
Chapter 7. An Honest Interrogation Law – discussion at the talking dog
Chapter 8. Surveillance Law for a New Century – discussion here at newsrackblog
Conclusion – discussions both at newsrackblog and the talking dog
To leave some time for readers to join in (and for me, at least, to gather my thoughts), our first posts about Wittes’ introduction will be sometime around the middle of next week. At this blog, this post will serve as one “home page” for the overall effort, and the outline above will link to each post as it is written. We’ll also try to provide “prior chapter” and “next chapter” and other useful navigational links within each post, time permitting.
Why is this worth doing? I’m tempted to simply answer: what could be more important? Whether it’s always clear or not, our lives and our rights are both at risk. We have to evaluate those risks, and decide what to do about them.
For my part, though, this is also partly just an attempt to become more “fluent” in the legal underpinnings of the debates about the habeas corpus and other human rights of detainees, the costs and benefits of the expansion of executive powers, and the conduct of international relations and military force in this so-called “long war” of ours.
There are also more immediate reasons to do so: Wittes and his book have proved quite influential, perhaps especially of late. On its publication, the book merited extended discussion at numerous legal blogs, and gained respectful and often warm reviews in the popular media and the academic press.