more controversy update
Late yesterday Dodd at Ipse Dixit took the issue off the table in a public response to an email I'd sent. Here are my comments, in which I contend he doesn't answer all of my original questions.
Looking back, all this started with my flip remark in response to an article Susanna linked. I'm genuinely surprised at all the subsequent hubbub, but I can see this is an issue many people of good conscience are wrestling with. For one thing, I don't consider the issue of whether the civil rights of some of the post-September 11 detainees have been violated an especially "liberal" one. I think one of the things going on--and I don't mean to ascribe any specific motivation to any individual--is the September 11 attack caused a lot of fear (that's why it's called terrorism), and the public clamors for a decisive response from a strong central authority. I think one of the first responsibilities of government is to protect its citizens; that's why I've found the ability of the terrorists to strike despite at least some indication they were up to something disturbing, as I do resistance to inquiries as to what happened.
If nothing else this shows the inadequacy of the political lingo. I found enlightening the Political Spectrum test. Although it's intended mostly for a UK audience, it postulates something more complex than a simple left-right dualism left over from the French Republic. The spectrum has two axes, not one. In addition to the traditional left-liberal/right-conservative axis is a vertical one that measures degree of authoritatian/libertarian sensibility. I test like this: Economic Left/Right: -1.62; Authoritarian/Libertarian: -3.44; by the standards of the test (which I remind you is not based on the US political culture), I'm slightly liberal economically and libertairan to a somewhat greater degree.
This dual-axis measure goes a long way to explaining how "conservatives" and "liberals" alike can be alarmed at a perceived threat to civil liberties. Dodd has expressed such concerns on his own blog, and even though we disagree about the validity of Senator Biden's quote, the post I cite here acknowledges a number of questions and embraces the notion that questioning authority is not treasonous.
Believe me, I wouldn't research this stuff as hard as I have if I didn't respect Dodd's opinion and intellect.
By the way, it looks like I've reached the character limit for my original link list, so I'll have to update it later from a system that is less L4m3.