August 29, 2006

With the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks coming up, we thought we’d talk to law professor and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, whose latest book, Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency looks at terrorism, the Constitution, and issues of surveillance, civil liberties, and history. One quote: “Civil libertarians are in a state of denial.” Despite this sound-bite, though, his overall views are rather moderate even if not politically correct.

You can listen directly — no messy downloading — by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file directly by clicking right here. There’s a lo-fi version here, and you can subscribe via iTunes here.

Surveillance-themed music by The Nevers.

UPDATE: Some comments here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A summary of the main points here.

MORE: Glenn Greenwald says that Posner is being un-conservative by advocating “drastically expanded police powers.” Some things that Posner advocates in his book might fall within that category, though generally I think that’s something of an overstatement. As I note in the podcast, what’s interesting is that Posner’s advocating a “more European” approach to national security powers, which produces a left/right role reversal. Posner also makes the point that it’s interesting that the Supreme Court’s foreign-law enthusiasts don’t look to Europe as a model in these areas, as they do in the case of capital punishment.

Meanwhile, Allah characterizes this as an interview with God. Posner’s a god on the legal scene, but I wouldn’t call him God. Then again, who am I to argue about this stuff with a guy named Allah?

There’s also this depressing note: “There is something seriously wrong with this country when I have to download a random podcast to listen to an eminent scholar like Posner while cranks like Walt & Mearsheimer are hosting their talk at the National Press Club, televised on C-SPAN.” And JonBenet stories trump all!

But by “random podcast” I believe he meant “first-rate Internet audio production” . . . .