The Lynch-mob Mentality in the “War on Terror”

In his latest column at Salon.com, “The lynch-mob mentality,” Glenn Greenwald correctly discusses the utter contradiction by those who properly want to hold terrorists accountable for their criminal acts against the innocent but then embrace both a foreign policy that knowingly harms innocent people and a legal system that tramples due process by not being based on protecting the innocent:

If I had the power to have one statement of fact be universally recognized in our political discussions, it would be this one:

The fact that the Government labels Person X a “Terrorist” is not proof that Person X is, in fact, a Terrorist.

That proposition should be intrinsically understood by any American who completed sixth grade civics and was thus taught that a central prong of our political system is that government officials often abuse their power and/or err and therefore must prove accusations to be true (with tested evidence) before they’re assumed to be true and the person punished accordingly. In particular, the fact that the U.S. Government, over and over, has falsely accused numerous people of being Terrorists—only for it to turn out that they did nothing wrong—by itself should compel a recognition of this truth. But it doesn’t.

Indeed, the entire point of opposing terrorism is to say that we will not tolerate acts that harm innocent people. And the blatant hypocrisy being instead used in the “War on Terror” was bad enough under George W. Bush and Richard Cheney, but now with the Obama Democrats in power and as Greenwald correctly states, “That authoritarian mentality is stronger than ever now.” He further goes on to note:

But in fairness to the 17th Century Puritans, at least the Salem witches received pretenses of due process and even trials (albeit with coerced confessions and speculative hearsay). Even when it comes to our fellow citizens, we don’t even bother with those. For us, the mere accusation by our leaders is sufficient: Kill that American Terrorist with a drone!

David J. Theroux is Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Institute.
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