Bad Arguments

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I’m at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning, where Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to testify about his controversial decision to try a handful of 9/11 terrorism suspects in federal court. Red flags the government may have missed leading up to Nidal Hasan’s Fort Hood shooting rampage are also expected to come up. Though conservative groups have been calling on their supporters to protest the hearing all week, there doesn’t seem to be much sign of impending activism. I did, however, overhear hear a few relatives of 9/11 victims speaking to reporters outside the hearing room. One was talking about how the terrorists didn’t give 9/11 victims any civil liberties and therefore don’t deserve any themselves. But this argument applies to all murderers. “Ordinary” murderers don’t give their victims any “civil liberties” before they kill them, and yet they still get access to our justice system. If I was arguing against the trials, I’d spend more time focusing on the fact that KSM et. al. aren’t citizens and less time on the horror of their crimes. Although it does raise an interesting question: Are there some crimes so horrible that the perpetrators don’t deserve trials? Perhaps, but that just brings you back to the Nuremberg trials: what could be worse than what Goering did?

I’ll be providing regular updates from the hearing, so please check back.

Follow Nick Baumann on twitter.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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