August 29, 2006

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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” . . . .