Sunday, November 4, 2007
The Logic Of National Security
Josh Marshall muses about the odd hybrid form of government that is Pakistan's constitutional military dictatorship. All proportions guarded, it's interesting to note the similarities between the logic that drove Musharraf to place the Pakistani constitution "in abeyance" and the logic used by the Bush administration to justify its vision of broadened executive powers (specifically the use of extra-Constitutional measures) in time of war. Namely, that the exigencies of national security trump the Constitutional restraints of separation of powers, in particular as regards judicial oversight. Here are the relevant passages from Musharraf's declaration of a State of Emergency:
Whereas some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the executive and legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism, thereby weakening the government and the nation's resolve and diluting the efficacy of its actions to control this menace;...
Whereas constant interference in executive function, including but not limited to the control of terrorist activity... has weakened the writ of the government; the police force has been completely demoralized and is fast losing its efficacy to fight terrorism and Intelligence Agencies have been thwarted in their activities and prevented from pursuing terrorists;
Whereas some hard core militants, extremists, terrorists and suicide bombers, who were arrested and being investigated were ordered to be released. The persons so released have subsequently been involved in heinous terrorist activities, resulting in loss of human life an property. Militants across the country have, thus, been encouraged while law enforcement agencies subdued;
Whereas some judges by overstepping the limits of judicial authority have taken over the executive and legislative functions;
Whereas the law and order situation in the country as well as the economy have been adversely affected and trichotomy of powers eroded;
Whereas a situation has thus arisen where the government of the country cannot be carried on in accordance with the constitution and as the constitution provides no solution for this situation, there is no way out except through emergent and extraordinary measures;
If there's a difference between the two, it's that Musharraf admits that the Pakistani constitution offers no method to arbitrate the conflict, leaving him no choice but to abrogate it temporarily, whereas the Bush administration bases its claims of extra-Constitutional power in its peculiar and self-serving reading of the Constitution itself.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm no apologist for the Pakistani regime. But consider how the Bush administration responded to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Now imagine those attacks multiplied throughout the country on an ongoing basis, with Al Gore still in the process of challenging the 2000 presidential election, and you've got an idea of what's going on in Pakistan right now. Under those circumstances, I'm not sure we'd have made out any better than the Pakistanis.