"With the use of military tribunals and the new rights granted to search and listen in on conversations," said John C. Blydenburgh, Clark University professor of government, "there's no question about it being civil liberties infringements."
The arguments bandied about these days, he
said, are whether the broader powers are necessary and whether such powers are something Americans are willing to accept in exchange for a more secure environment. Mr. Bush and Attorney General John D. Ashcroft believe they are, he
said, but others are not as confident. "I'm a doubter," Mr. Blydenburgh
said."The basic question is are our civil liberties that we embody in the Constitution only American
rights or are they principles for all humanity?I'm not in favor of change unless I'm confident change is beneficial."The idea behind terrorism, he
added, is to bring down the system or to get it to change in some fundamental way.If Americans' civil freedoms are diminished, he
said, then there should be cause for concern, because terrorism would have succeeded.Military tribunals, with their high levels of secrecy, he
said, are just one of the new changes that may not be necessary.It may be better to try terrorists in the World Court, where defendants have the right to speak.That may not be a bad thing, he
suggested, because terrorists' justifications for what they do are unconvincing and grotesque. "There is confidence among the public in the courts we have now," Mr. Blydenburgh
said."We support fairness and openness in courts."