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The Wrong Way to Fight Terrorism

Here’s a letter that I sent in May to the New York Post:

Ralph Peters argues that terror suspects should be executed summarily, as “man-killing animals” possessing no rights (“Instant Justice,” May 26).

His argument takes as given that those persons suspected of being terrorists really are terrorists.  Like too many on the political right (and some on the left), Mr. Peters assumes that procedural protections for persons accused of wrongdoing exist primarily to make life easier for the accused.  Not so.  The chief functions of these protections are two.  One is to shield innocent persons from being wrongly convicted and punished.  The other is to keep the state’s powers in check.

A state that can summarily execute anyone whom it assures its citizens is a dangerous terrorist will itself, in time, become the most dangerous terrorist of all.

Donald J. Boudreaux