In the reading selection, “Security and Freedom,” Nicholas Kristof argue that after September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US, President Bush steamrolled the civil liberties of some people, especially Muslims. According to the author, Americans have created a tradition of jacking up security at times of crisis. For instance, presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Abraham Lincoln interred Japanese-Americans, oversaw the Palmer raids, and suspended habeas corpus, respectively, in response to various crises of their time. On his part, President Bush kept this tradition by targeting Muslims after the 9/11 attacks by imprisoning suspects indefinitely, secretly detaining innocent people, and conducting clandestine immigration hearings. Kristof notes that the US becomes another China the moment these acts are perpetrated, and human rights groups are barred from interviewing detainees. The problem with this approach is that it undermines the US’ ability to project its values abroad. In the process, it loses the moral authority to tell other countries to observe the rule of law and honor human rights.
On this issue, I think that human rights should precede the concerted efforts to fight terrorism. Every suspect of any form of crime, including terrorism, is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and this basic principle should be honored. In its fight against terrorism, which is a noble course, the government should be subject to oversight by human rights groups to ensure that it follows the rule of law. Holding innocent people incommunicado in the pretext that they are material witnesses violates the guiding principles of human rights. I agree with the author that if the US cannot lead by example and uphold the rule of law and honor human rights, it has no moral authority to ask other countries to do so.
Kristof, N. D. (2002). Security and freedom. New York Times. Web.