Republican authoritarianism

Yesterday, when I was writing about Mitch McConnell’s comments about trying terrorism suspects, I didn’t really focus on his complaints regarding the handling of underwear bomber Umar Adbulmutallab. McConnell claimed that “Larry King would have a more thorough interrogation of one of his witnesses than the Christmas bomber had by the Justice Department,” and other Republicans have gone on about how Abdulmutallab didn’t talk after he was read his Miranda rights, which, as we all know, is absolutely legal in this country. It’s legal even before someone reminds you that the Constitution protects you from testifying against yourself. The GOP, it seems, is perfectly amenable to throwing out not only the 5th amendment, but the years of careful precedent in criminal justice that (once) allowed the United States to legitimately claim the moral high ground on the international stage, a high ground we used to inspire democratic revolts all over the world, and to pressure authoritarian dictatorships into reform, or collapse. Ever since the nebulous “War on Terror” began, Republicans have eagerly embraced those same detestable principles that we as Americans have always stood against, such as torture, indefinite detention, and no guarantee of a fair trial. Yglesias captures it well:

For all the “tea party” talk of freedom, and the right’s general blather about “limited government,” unrestricted violence by the agents of the state is a core priority for the right-wing. The view is that ideally you just detain people indefinitely. If forced, they get a military commission. If you have to have a civilian court, the accused shouldn’t have any rights. People should be tortured as a routine investigative technique. Wars should be routinely against foreign countries that haven’t attacked us. It’s a worldview soaked in violence and authoritarianism, and the relatively narrow question of what venue you try terrorism suspects in is just a small part of it.


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