It is often touted that in order to have security, sometimes it is necessary to limit freedom. This is partially right, in that, as Bruce Schneier pointed out, security is always a trade-off: in order to get it, you sacrifice something else, whether is convenience, freedom, price, etc. But one should be wary of sacrificing freedom; as Ben Franklin put it: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. But why is this so? A very good answer came from a Canadian court of Appeal. Abdullah Khadr, a Canadian citizen suspected of having ties to Bin Laden, was abducted from the streets in Islamabad by Pakistani agents, at the behest of the US government. He was then tortured, but eventually ended up in Canada. The US filled charges against Khadr, and wanted Canada to extradite him, but a Canadian lower court denied the request. The Ontario Court of Appeals now upheld the lower court’s decision, justifying it like so:
“We must adhere to our democratic and legal values, even if that adherence serves in the short term to benefit those who oppose and seek to destroy those values,” said Justice Robert Sharpe, writing on behalf of Justices John Laskin and Eleanore Cronk.
“For if we do not, in the longer term, the enemies of democracy and the rule of law will have succeeded,” he said. “They will have demonstrated that our faith in our legal order is unable to withstand their threats.”
And that’s why you don’t sacrifice freedom to get security, and furthermore, will lose both if such trade-off is attempted.
FInally, I previously said about the raid that killed Bin Laden, that he “probably doesn’t really fit the “come peacefully” type”. But in the face of growing evidence, I must now redact that statement. Quoting Noam Chomsky:
It’s increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no opposition—except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them.
He goes even further and asks how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Violence only generates more violence, and two wrongs do not make a right. Bin Laden’s value to the US is only a symbol. The previous symbol was the 9/11 attacks, and now that its power is fading, they just got a new one, around which new war efforts can now be centred, reinvigorated by this “victory”, which the masses celebrated enthusiastically. European Middle Age
rulers despots would have been proud.