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25.6.02

Protecting liberty in a permanent war

"Civil libertarians are justifiably alarmed at such an ominous shadow over the constitutional rights of all Americans. But there is another aspect that has received less attention even though it is equally alarming. It is a truism that civil liberties have suffered in most of U.S. wars. But in all of those earlier episodes, there was a certainty that the conflict would end someday. A peace treaty would be signed, or the enemy country would either surrender or be conquered. In other words, the United States would someday return to normal and civil liberties would be restored and repaired.

The war against terrorism is different. Because the struggle is against a shadowy network of adversaries rather than a nation state, it is virtually impossible even to speculate when it might end. Mr. Bush's initial comment that it might last "a year or two" was long ago consigned to the discard pile."

For once, a column in the Washington Times that's right on the mark.

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