Question: How do we combat terror without violating civil rights?
Nadine Strossen: We do what we have always done…we use our criminal justice system, which is very effective. I mean one of the points that the ACLU has been making over and over again, we started on 09/11 itself by saying, creating a safe and free campaign is to belie this assumption that is not at all demonstrated in reality that somehow you have to choose between protecting civil liberties, human rights on the one hand and national security on the other hand. Nothing can be further from the truth. If you look at the…because the black hole of Guantanamo we have not had to this date a single prosecution of anybody who is even alleged to have any connection to the 09/11 terrorist attacks and then you look…so this is parallel system of lawless detention without access to courts with no access to lawyers, military commissions, and then you have the criminal justice system in the United States where we have a proven track record of putting away terrorists for years including terrorists post 09/11 and it is really interesting if you look at what has been sad and written by judges and prosecutors in that system. They say that is the most effective way and we haven’t revealed state secrets because there is a Classified Information Protection Act. There are methods for protecting jurors and other who are involved in the case and there have been terrorists who have been put away for the rest of their lives. So, they are being prevented from returning to the battlefield and they are also being prevented from being turned into victims or murderers the way those in Guantanamo are, who then just become posters for recruiting more people to Al Qaeda. We have our top military and intelligence officials have been saying this so called war on terror is really a war of ideas where the United States needs the moral authority and in Guantanamo and the military commissions, we are squandering our moral authority providing fodder for Al Qaeda to go out and recruit more terrorists and we haven’t achieved a single conviction. This is the worst of all possible worlds.
Recorded On: 2/14/08