I'll be honest: I'd never really thought much about civil liberties until I'd read various commentaries regarding the passage of the Patriot Act during the Bush administration. So far from being an expert on the subject, I decided to read commentaries here and there, if only to be able to get something of a grasp on the complaints I was reading about. Ultimately, I started paying closer attention to Andrew Sullivan's growing concerns about encroachments on civil liberties, specifically related to Guantanamo, and it was through the Daily Dish that I learned about Salon's Glenn Greenwald. Since I've been reading their various posts about the government's continuing encroachment on civil liberties, I've been troubled by what seems to be actions that just don't (and I am sorry for the lack of a better term) feel right, when I think about what I've been taught over the years about American rights and values.
I wrote that little prologue, because of the latest news regarding leaked classified information regarding Guantanamo. I've long argued that I am fine with not knowing some of the things that my government does in my name, because I understand fully that we live in a dangerous world with real enemies. Yet, I'd always told myself that my government works to remain within the boundaries of our laws, international treaties, and most importantly, our American values, even as they do things that might raise my eyebrows. For me, the latest leaked information shows just how far off the rails we went during the Bush administration, yet the current administration seems not to be concerned with getting back on the rails.
I like the idea that we are morally superior to our rivals in the world. I like that we could say with straight faces that we, as the United States, don't do certain things, things that less enlightened societies would tolerate (like torture). Reading these stories and posts about this leaked information on Guantanamo (as well as the information the Bradley Manning allegedly leaked) is disappointing and dispiriting.
As I read posts from Sullivan and Greenwald, I found myself nodding in agreement with their assessments of this news. I also found myself checking out The Gaurdian's take on the Guantanamo story, and was surprised to find a full-throated comprehensive, multi-linked web page entitled the "Guantanamo Files." It's more information than I've seen in one place on the subject. I also read a piece in The New Yorker (recommended by Greenwald) that also was good.
Ultimately, I think that it is good to have someone writing about these issues. It's good to have the information out there, independent, to a degree, from what our government's position happens to be. I was taught that the role of the press was to serve as a check on government excesses. Sadly, I don't think that the press is serving that function to the best of its ability, and too often, it is complicit in maintaining the government's (and the corporation's) position.