Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.
--Daniel Patrick Moynihan

May 27, 2011

Bin Laden's Immortality

By David K. Shipler
(Published by The Daily Beast/Newsweek May 26, 2011)

The damage that Osama bin Laden did to the United States went far beyond the attacks of September 11 and will outlive him, at least for a time.

In search of safety from his grand scheme of unending terrorism on American territory, the country jeopardized key constitutional rights at home, and most of those compromises remain in force, both in law and in practice.

May 19, 2011

Notes From a Book Tour

By David K. Shipler

Last evening a high school student handed me a note after a talk I’d given on civil liberties. It was at Vroman’s in Pasadena, California, one of the dying breed of precious independent bookstores holding on for dear life here and there across the country.

The student didn’t say anything, just smiled shyly, gave me a sheet of lined notebook paper folded in thirds, and turned away. I wish she had stayed, because when I had a moment later to read what she’d written, I wanted to talk with her.

May 6, 2011

Pragmatic Torture

By David K. Shipler
(Published on The New Yorker's News Desk, online, May 5, 2011)

Advocates of torture who enjoy tormenting the rest of us with the hypothetical ticking-bomb scenario might be tested with the counter-hypothetical proposed by Michael Sandel, a political philosopher at Harvard. In his 2009 book, “Justice,” Sandel writes,

“Suppose the only way to induce the terrorist suspect to talk is to torture his young daughter (who has no knowledge of her father’s nefarious activities). Would it be morally permissible to do so?”

It would be interesting to hear the answer from those who are hauling the country back into the repugnant debate over whether torture “works.”