Thursday, November 16, 2006

The constitution is not a suicide pact, is it?

The idea that the constitution should not be kept to at the cost of the destruction is a popular one. Is it right?

Thomas Sowell is the latest eminent person to insist that the 'The constitution is not a suicide pact.' and as usual the insistence is made to defend encroaching tyranny. There is good reason to believe that adhering the the constitution is not as suicidal as it's detractors imply. Indeed the main dangers to America come from it's violation and I believe that a similar pattern will be evident in all states with a constitution. However let us assume that it is true that survival and obedience to the constitution are incompossible, what then? Let's consider several definitions of 'survival' relevant to the question.

The first definition is 'political survival' or 'national survival' that is to say the survival of the particular State without regard to the survival of the people under it. Clearly if all people under a State die so does the State, but a State can die without a single one of it's people perishing. The death of a State means that the monopoly of force either dies or is exercised over a different geographical area. There is nothing inherently bad about this. Sentimental attachments aside plenty of people live in States that either did not exist when they first moved there or did not rule the territory they live in. While it is true that the new State may be worse it may also be better, I know of no real evidence that changing soveriegnties makes you worse off on average. Indeed if that were the case then where did the better States that people were living in prior to such changes come from?

It clearly states in the Declaration of Independence that 'That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.'. Note that this is the sole reason that governments are instituted, there is no other. If a government does not achieve these goals then it is obselete and must be discarded. Certainly many prefer that the laws not change and changing soveriegnties does that, but so does ignoring the constitution. The consitution is the law, and nullifying it is an immense legal change, affecting all other laws. All judges and politicians swear to protect the constituion. They do not swear to protect the State. Now you might think that what they swear to doesn't matter, and the Bush1 administration seems to agree. This doesn't make the State any safer however, the danger of being managed by oathbreakers is far greater than the danger of being bound to the constitution. If you doubt this consider how few people were lynched because blacks could vote as opposed to how many were lynched because they had been disarmed. Consider how many were killed in the USSR, Nazi Germany or even South Africa because of violations by government of people's rights and how few killed because they were enforced.

Secondly 'survival' might mean the physical survival of some number of it's citizens. The idea that the constitution should be put above the survival of a small number of it's citizens is frankly treasonous. If it were true then an attempt to invade the country would have to be met with total surrender. After all if your life is worth abandoning the legal system then so is the life of soldiers and therefore the imposition of a foreign legal code should not be resisted by their deaths. Now you might ask 'What if all the people might be killed if the constitution is not abandoned?', well if there is such a danger (and so far there has never been such a danger that could be prevent by unconstitutional action) people may avoid it simply by emigration. If you donÕt want to live in a country were your life can be sacrificed to freedom then go somewhere where that won't happen. This will not probably make you safer as I have previously stated.
Thirdly 'survival' might mean the survival of the consitution itself, however violating the constitution to prevent it's violation makes no sense. It would be like killing your child to ensure they don't get harmed. If it is possible to violate the constitution any time it is in 'danger' then the constitution is never safe and it's provisions are no longer the highest law of the land, that is to say it is no longer the constitution and has practically died.

So under all the definitions of 'survival' that apply none qualify as worth killing the constitution for. The constitution is not a suicide pact but, flawed as it is, it is something worth the death of a man, or a State for.

1 And to be fair the Clinton administration and most others as well.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A threat to our most sacred freedoms!

Stop reading about the trivial threat "control orders" have to our liberty, forget about the fact that the US can lock up anyone it wants, whereever they find them, for as long as they want without trial. No the real threat to our sacred freedoms has been revealed, THE RIGHT TO FREE SPORT IS UNDER THREAT! That's right soon if you want to view something on TV like the rugby league final, the olympics, events requiring the intense effort of many talented and dedicated people, the organisational skills of others and the capital of still others to transmit you may actually have to PAY said people. The NERVE! Imagine asking people to pay for something just because it cost effort and capital to produce and people want it. Next they'll be asking us to pay for our food, electricity and transport. I mean don't they realise that we're "we the people" and can demand anything we want from anybody for whatever price (including nothing) we want? Don't they realise that there are no possesions that aren't ours if we want them. Don't they realise that the rights of producers as far as we're concerned are just the same as the rights of medieval serfs with regard to their masters? Why are they not bowing before us and making appologies for even suggesting that payment might be required? Let our servants in Canberra go forth and beat them about the head with the speakers make.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dick Meyer commenting on the Great Fluid Ban says "... I am mystified by our tolerance for the incompetent, politicized and inefficient charade that is now masquerading as transportation security. Apparently the illusion of security is enough."

Well yeah, Dick, where have you been? The terrorism risk aboard an airplane, even in the "post 9/11 world" is probably less than the chance of having a heart attack from the sheer stress of airline stupidity so actual security is not all that valuable. On the other hand the Great Unwashed have been assured that there is a danger. They don't like to think of a danger they and their protectors can't do anything about. The fact that such a danger is trivial is not the point, it's the degree of control the public have. By inflicting various inconveniences and annoyances on the public the government demonstrates that it is capable of doing someone*. Thus they establish a degree of control and through them the public feel a degree of control. This is what they were after, not genuine security, which in practice they already have to a great extent.

He also opines: "Are we to imagine there aren’t great minds at Homeland Security who spend their time thinking of all the possible ways evil-doers could blow up planes? Of course there are. Are we to imagine they never thought about making bombs with stuff in spray cans? Sure they did. And they surely made rational, practical assessments of the risk."

I don't know why he thinks this. In the wake of 9/11 Condeleesa Rice claimed that nobody foresaw that planes could be used as weapons. However they had. In fact it was the subject of a roleplaying game scenario "Fly to heaven" So the entire Pentagon could not anticipate an event but 4 guys with a few word processors (which is what Atlas games is really) could. I find it extremely unlikely the security forces have any group tasked with imagining ways the terrorists might strike. They tried something like that with "Seal Team Six" and they embarrassed the high command so much they were disbanded. A contingency planning team can only cause problems for the security services and armed forces forcing to acknowledge the inevitable gaps in security, far to numerous to all plug. The last thing they need is for someone to remove their excuse of ignorance.

* I just noticed that I wrote "someone", where I meant to write "something" but perhaps it's a freudian slip.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Internal matters, good for me but not for thee.

The Indonesian government has recently got all upset over John Howard expressing "concern and distress" over Abu Bakir Bashir's release. They say it's an "internal matter" when someone who promoted the murder of Australians is released after only two years. Where was all this concern over internal matters when they protested about the 42 Papuans being granted asylum? The decision to grant asylum is a finding of fact by Australian government officials and is not and cannot legally be subject to Australia's foreign policy. Constitutionally under the doctrine of "Seperation of Powers" John Howard had no more right to change the determination of the proper tribunerals and courts than he has to have the courts find someone guilty they acquited. The response to Indonesia's arrogant and insulting actions was to kowtow and change policy to make asylum seekers, both legitimate and not, more miserable for longer at a cost of millions to the Australian taxpayer. Needless to say the Indonesians were not so accommodating when our government commented on their system.

In a facile and stupid article in the SMH Gerald Henderson took aim at those that support West Papuan independence. Yes, Gerald it is racist to oppose the breakup of the Indonesian state, considering how much people supported the breakup of the Yugoslavian state for far less oppressive actions. If the West Papuans were white you would have no problem with their independence. Mr. Henderson claims that the asylum seekers "engaging in public debate" is counterproductive? Why? Because "to imply that this policy [of the ALP and the coalition not supporting independence] will change is misleading]. The problem is that nobody implied that. The Papuans simply talked about the bad things the Indonesian government is doing and why independence is a good thing, not surprising behaviour from seccessionists. It got him talking about Papua and civil rights violations there, so at least it's raising awareness.

On the subject of rights violations Mr. Henderson was disingenous saying "The extent of human rights violations in Papua is a matter of contention.". No doubt it is, but then so is whether the holocaust happened*. The only evidence he presents is a statement by someone on Lateline that there is no contemporary evidence [note, contemporary, so presumably there is historical evidence for this] that Indonesian special forces or inteliigence are systemactically going after Papuan independence activists for assasination. This is pretty weak tea. All it says is that a particular type of abuse isn't happening right now to a particular type of people in a particular way (systematically) by two particular groups. The actions of Indonesian backed militias are removed from the equation as are non-"systematic" murders or murders of non-activists. Nobody would write this unless they had nothing better to write in defence of the indefensible. It was perhaps the most hypocritical thing I've read in the Herald. To describe the proposed changes in asylum seeker policy as "reform" is the final insulting icing on a putrid cake.

* It did.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Government shoots self in foot, soldier didn't shoot himself anywhere.

Well they're still trying to figure out how poor private Kovco got a bullet in his head. The official story version 4 is "we don't know". That would be fine if it had been official story version 1, nobody expects instant omniscence from our fearless leaders. Instead we got "it went off while he was cleaning it", an unlikely story given Kovco was a qualified sniper, which indicates both high intelligence and respect for weapons. I initially suspected suicide for that very reason, but it turns out there were no powder burns on the body,<1> meaning it was fired from at least 4 foot away. So story number one was rubbish, and anyone who had any information about the events should have known it, particularly highly qualified officers.

Then there was official story number 2 that he had moved the gun and somehow it went off. Again this is contradicted by the powder residue evidence.

Then there was official statement number 3 that he had somehow dropped his laptop computer on to it and it had discharged. This was perhaps the weakest explanation. For a start how does a laptop falling onto a properly designed and maintained pistol, in it's holster cause it to go off? Simply having the corner of it wedge between the trigger and trigger guard won't do, there has to be pressure on the back of the butt. This safety feature prevents discharge if nobody is actually holding the pistol to shoot. Then there's the question of how the bullet ends up in his temple if it came from underneath. Finally this version as all the other versions before it did, contradicts the powder burn evidence or rather lack thereof.

Now this is more than just guessing 3 times and getting it wrong, as callous as that is to Shelly, Tyrie and Alana Kovco. The government knew all along that there were two people in the room when it happened and either of them could have told them none of these versions were true. So what's going on? Guns just don't go off. Particularly not guns bought by one of the most professional militaries in the world and maintained by a qualified sniper. The government gave information that it ought to have known was bad at least 3 times. Either the military is consistently handing them rumours instead of confirmed fact or the government is trying to spin something. But what? Were the other two soldiers in the room "skylarking" with Kovco's gun? If so what efforts were made to investigate what they were doing? A simple GunShot Residue should confirm or disprove their firing the gun. If this test was done what are the results? If not why was this simple investigative step not taken. I can think of no reason why you would not test someone in the room of a suspicious gunshot death for GSR. Not doing so is arguably deriliction of duty. Perhaps that's the extent of the spin, simply covering up for shoddy investigation. I hope so, but knowning the Howard government we won't get the truth until we drag it kicking and screaming into the light, presumerably after next election.

Oh yeah and they've lost the bullet. That should be a firing offense all by itself but don't hold your breathe.

<1> In fact this was an error, apparently there were such burns when the coroner examined the body, or at least burns "consistent" with powder burns. There just wasn't any powder. So either the powder was washed off, as apparently happened or something weird is going on. Of course this means even more evidence was compromised than previously suspected.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Another Whacking Bribe.

For those of you that are either not Australian or have been living under a rock, the Australian Wheat Board has been caught giving backhanders to Saddam's cronies. This happened back when it was worth being Saddam's crony in 2000 and the Australia government only recently found out about it. Well that's their story anyway, and by GOD they are sticking to it. I don't know which I'd prefer, having a government so corrupt it would turn a blind eye to kickbacks that funded weapons aimed at it's troops or one so stupid it didn't know that the trucking deal was corrupt. I mean requiring vendors to use a particular firm for transportation, storage etc. and getting a backhander from your friend who owns it, surely that's the oldest trick in the book? I mean the Babylonian government has been using that one since before the Code of Hammurabi.

You might remember than "Honest John" Howard backed the invasion with all his might, all the way with LBJ-style. I can't think of a good ryhme for GWB, so all you frustrated lefty lyricists start working on it. Well after the invasion the Yanks started looking into the oil-for-food thing, hoping to find corruption. In somewhere other than Halliburton I mean. Now at this point you have to wonder, what the hell was Johnny thinking? I mean he was warned 6 years before by the Canadians that the deal stunk, and we know that he believed them because he didn't try to find out if it was true. Mr. Howard has become rather good at not knowing things that his senior civil servants knew and thus not being blamed for it. So why didn't he have a quiet word with George and Dick and the gang, over a barbeque (not a hunting trip as he is very anti-gun) and tell them to call off the dogs a bit? I mean what's the point of having friends in high places if you can't give the nod to the investigating officer? I mean is this man an Australian at all? He's a disgrace to the traditions of the New South Wales colony.

Instead John actually starts an inquiry into what happened. Lord, love us and save us we know what happened. Saddam wanted wheat, the farmers (a powerful lobby but not much subsidised down under) wanted to sell him wheat through the "single desk" wheat monopoly and Saddam wanted a kickback for doing it. Blind freddy could have told you what happened, why start a bloody inquiry? I mean asking questions is fine for fun, in university halls, and internet chatrooms but it shouldn't be mixed with politics. If it is it can only lead to answers, and who wants that? One government spokesman said that the AWB had looked after the interests of Australian farmers well. Well yeah, that's the point, a little too well. The whole thing is so stressful that many of the AWB officers like Trevor Fluge, the Chairman and the Middle East Manager Mark Emons are suffering amnesia. This serious condition can affect their ability to earn income for years. I just hope they get a good golden handshake to make up for it.

So anyway the AWB looks like it might have to disolve, or not, it seems to change each week. The Iraqis are refusing to deal with them because they were once bent. Apparently being muslim Challabi, Allawi and Sistani haven't heard the story about throwing the first stone. I mean pot calling kettle, come in kettle.

In the meantime Kim Beazely, who was narrowly avoiding arrest for impersonating an opposition leader is doing well complaining about someone doing exactly what he would have done at the time. It's sorta like the Democrats complaining about the NSA phone-tapping. You know they should but you can't imagine they're doing it honestly.
I mean after forcing the telcos to install stuff that let the government tap half a percent of all phone calls at once what did they think it would be used for? Oh well it's all part of life's rich tapestry.

Alternate meanings of AWB;
Amnesiacs With Booty.
Always With Bucks.
Australia's Wonderful Briefcases.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Leaving the Iraqis high and dry.

Jeremy Sapienza responded* to a claim on** by Greg that "the rest of us grapple with the serious issues about how to ... bring the troops home without leaving the Iraqis high and dry," with the claim that " 'leaving the iraqis high and dry' is so obviously the absolute best possible thing that could happen to Iraqis since they got the electric lightbulb". Neither of these claims can be taken seriously. The issue of how to bring the troops home without leaving the Iraqis high and dry is not serious. It will not be serious until someone figures out a way to keep the troops there without leaving the Iraqis high and dry. That is a subject that Greg would "grapple" with if he really thought about not leaving the Iraqis high and dry, which he doesn't. So far no hawk "libertarian" or otherwise has figured out how to do it. The Iraqis are stratospheric and absolutely dessicated now, and sorry Jeremy but it's far from the "best thing since ... the electric lightbulb".

Let's start by defining our terms. "High and dry" means without protection from vicious Jihadis, sociopathically ambitions powermongers, nationalist terrorists, criminals, personal enemies, random pyschos, foriegn agents provocateurs, government death squads and last and probably least mistaken revenge attacks. At the moment outside the Green Zone Iraqis don't get that from the US government or it's Iraqi puppet. If someone wants to kill you they basically can unless you have connections to a private militia and even then it's no "cakewalk". Every day we hear of civilians being killed, far less often we hear of their killers being called to account. When was the last time someone who murdered for political or religious reasons was actually charged in Iraq? Convicted? Or even just summarily executed?

So how did this happen? How did a country with over 1 fully armed, highly trained, relatively competently led***, soldier for every 140 people manage to be totally without effective armed protection? Especially considering that they have what 50 Iraqi regiments backing them up? Well here's the thing, the occupation forces aren't there to protect the Iraqis but to protect the Iraqi government. If the form and content of the Iraqi State can't change without Washington's say so they have succeeded, if they can it has failed. Violent deaths of civilians have nothing to do with their objectives and indeed sometimes favour them. The troops simply have no reason to prevent violence, other than against themselves or other servants of the masters. Protecting those that are useful to the occupation however is top priority, even when they are ruthless killers who brutalise other groups, for example the Shia "Wolf Brigade" or the Kurdish peshmerga. These groups have local knowledge and advantages that the occupationm sorely needs and so cannot be alienatied just becaues they did a few murders, most of which they would argue serve coalition purposes. Like a 1960s sheriff's department in the deep south did not provide protection to their black citizens but to their oppressors the occupation forces protect those who violate Iraqi rights from those they target. Of course only those percieved to be useful to the occupation get protection from the just wrath of their victims but this policy also benefits the regimes enemies.

Without knowing who is responsible for a given attack victims and their relatives cannot effectively investigate it by themselves. To do so would invite further attacks if the offenders turned out to be working with the coalition or had more influence with them than the victims. If the offenders have such a relationship or influence any questions may lead to a dank cell in one the many Iraqi government torture centres. Government investigations are also difficult because nobody trusts the coalition forces or their puppet police. Many people feel that cooperation with the "legitimate" authorities is betraying the cause of the resistence, and to an extent they're right. If the "legitimate" authorities delivered protection they would be secure and would probably never leave. Any information will also be used to try to track down insurgents that may have the informers sympathy. In addition it is well known that various violent groups have infiltrated both the police and the army and so giving information may not be safe.

It should be noted also that violence is being rewarded even if it is directed at coalition troops. Muqtada al-Sadr raised an army against the occupation that could only be defeated by destroying large parts of Bagdad. The US baulked at that (despite having already done similar things several times) and allowed him to gain a political role. He is now in the Iraqi parliment and being consulted on everything from the new constitution to who should be in the Iraqi army. My bet is he thinks his boys should be. He has ensured his own political relevance, a cushy job and the ability to distribute patronage all by simply killing a few foreign infidels. He didn't even have to murder them since he acted in legitimate defence of his rights. Later we heard denials (from both sides) that the US was negotiating with the insurgents. Predictably these denials were false. The US was negotiating with Sunnis for their support and needed most of the Sunni insurgency on side for it to work. So again the process goes, shoot Americans, destablise regime, wait the regime to negotiate, walk off with big cash and prizes. This is hardly the sort of thing that will discourage violence.

In the absence of foreign troops of course much violence will continue, but one thing will change. Thugs will have to both protect themselves and pay their own way. There will be no US funds to relieve them of their day job or foreign arms to protect them from retaliation. The "Wolf Brigade" will have to either stop killing people or protect themselves from their relatives, without picking up the phone to Big Red One. History suggests when the violent have to pay for their own violence, they buy less of it. If you really don't want to leave the civilians high and dry, get the troops out.

*** While the top leadership is amazingly incompetent the lieutenants, captains
etc. are better than those of most armies.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Does the “fair share” law violate due process?

In the hillarious series “Fat Pizza” Habib sees a “Police now targetting” sign which usaully has “speeding”, “drunk driving”, etc inserted at the end. However this sign states “Police now targeting _Lebanese_”. Later on sees another sign that announces they are now targeting him! The shareholders of a certain large cheap retail chain may now be empathising with the poor Habib.
Health care “reformers” passed a “fair share law” in Maryland designed to force retailers that employ over 10,000 workers to spend at least 8% of their payroll in that State for health benefits. Normally I’d dismiss this as another know-nothing interference in the market that overrides the desires of those it intends to benefit and damages firms that try to provide jobs and products that Marylanders want. But there is a more sinister implication this time because the plural is inappropriate, only 4 firms employ that many Marylanders and three of them already contribute more than that, leaving only one firm affected Walmart. This raises the question is this bill designed to punish Walmart for alleged bad behaviour, and if so does the fact that it was passed in legislature rather than tried in court mean that Walmart’s due process rights have been violated?

Walmart (or if you don’t believe in corporate rights, it’s shareholders) have the right to a fair trial before punishment in the form of reduced profits is inflicted. Laws that affect multiple parties are not punishment for a particular party in themselves because those affected regardless of whether they did anything to encourage the law’s passing. For instance say that logging of old growth forests was banned, affecting ABC timber, DEF Lumber, GHI forestry and the XYZ building (materials) inc., logically nobody would pass such a bill solely to punish XYZ. The present bill could and indeed to some extent probably was pased for exactly that reason. If such a procedure is allowed then government could control any firm by threatening it with tailored legislation that damages only that firm. This would constitute an unconstitutional de facto control of private property. In effect the mere capacity to inflict such harm would be a partial taking of private property without compensation, illegal under the 5th amendment.

I am not saying by this that firms can’t be punished for behaviour that is deemed to be against the public good. If Walmart or any other firm breaks the law then a trail and punishment if convicted is appropriate. Unless of course it’s not which happens*. If the “public” decide that certain behaviour that wasn’t illegal before should be now then any firm continuing that behaviour also should be tried for that behaviour and if the behaviour is proven punishment should be inflicted. However the passing of a law that disadvantages Wal-Mart is itself a punishment and one that predates any trial, indictment, or even legal investigation of the alleged wrongdoing. Various people have for some time accused Walmart of various evils at times validly (e.g. using eminent domain) at times speciously (the accusation that it doesn’t pay “enough” to it’s workers). Whether or not you agree that it did these things or that they deserve punishment is beside the point. If the government wishes to punish people for such behaviour they can pass a law that allows for charges and trials of those found doing it. They may not simply form a plan to punish those they see as committing these evils and implement it the due process of law.

For example, suppose that someone owned the only two storey house in the village. Suppose also that this person gave loud late night parties that disturbed the rest of the village. If their villagers were to inflict a fourfold tax increase for multiple storey buldings that would be an inappropriate way to punish the wrongdoer. The correct way would be to ask the police to investigate the noise or to take accurate sound readings and thereby enable a prosecution if the parties actually broke the law.
A problem with this approach is that it may depend on the legislation being passed for the purpose of punishing the firm, rather than from desire to improve public policy. This raises the question, “Whose purpose?”. The legislators? The lobbyists who pushed for it? The members of the public that supported it? Who’s intent is relevent here? I will argue that it is illogical to conclude that the purpose of this legislation is improving public policy. The alleged problem that the legislation was supposed to fix is firms not helping relieve the burden of free health care. However there is no good public policy reason why they should, or given that they should that it should be through providing health insurance for their workers. Indeed it makes little sense to have a system where provision of free health care for the uninsured raises the premiums for the insured. The increase in premiums causes people who otherwise would have insured to not do so. This causes loss of profits from the insurance company, increasing costs for the State system and loss of benefits to the individual or family. The reduced numbers of insured and increased number of recipients of free care mean that less policyholders have to pay the costs of more uninsured, accelerating the process. If there were a genuine wish to make companies pay their “fair share” for providing free health care the State could introduce a sales tax, company tax etc. and use the proceeds to reduce the amount that free health care impacts on the insured. This would result in lower premiums, more policyholders and less aid recipients. The fact that this is not tried shows that the “fair share” law is actually an “unfair steal” law.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Why Achmed doesn't phone.

Torture is said to be neccesary to the "war on terror", as is locking suspects up for long periods without benefit of a trial or even a hearing. To be neccesary however a thing needs to be helpful to the purpose in question and obviously to be helpful it must not be counterproductive. So are such measures counterproductive? I believe they are, for they keep interogators from the one thing they need for a successful interogation. That is of course someone who knows something to reveal.

To understand why that is understand what starts most investigations off. While in the movies of course vigilant police and spies spot bad guys doing something bad and pursue, in fact this is fairly rare. In fact most cops don't come across a robbery or murder EVER in their careers. Almost all criminal and anti-terrorism investigation starts with someone in the public telling the police of something suspicious. Now obviously most of the people that give such information have some relationship the suspect. After all how else do they know of the things they find suspicious? They might be relatives, neighbours, friends, coworkers or even lovers. They will therefore have a natural sympathy for the suspect, as they have some relationship to him. They obviously don't want to have him sent away for two weeks on nothing but a suspicion, or tortured or otherwise subjected to humiliation, pain or loss of liberty. If the alternatives are these or letting him continue with suspicious behaviour they will tend to do the latter. There is always a plausible explanation for suspicious behaviour. The man buying diesel fuel might have a friend with a tractor or an emergency generator. He might be buying fertiliser for his back garden etc. The potential informant will make his excuses for not acting. Over 90% of the time these excuses willl be right. Far more people buy diesel feul to feul things than to blow things but. Most for Capability Brown purposes not Guy Faux purposes. But a tiny percentage of the time the suspicions will be right. Those that suspect but not enough to potentially subject their friend to torture will end up saying "I shoulda..." which is no help to the widows of their brothers victims.

This is not their fault though. Most would gladly have reported their suspicious if the result would have been a civilised investigation that didn't torture the suspect or ruin their life by "disappearing" them for a fortnight and not letting them tell people where they are. The fault for the lack of information is the government's for substituting brute force and illegality for allowing the community to trust them. This effect is even more powerful if no one person has enough information to trigger an investigation. If Achmed knows that Mohammed, his coworker, is do something alarming, and his sister Fatima knows something else susicipious, and his neighbour is aware of a third suspicious thing, it might take all three pieces of information to justify an interview, search etc. that would avoid catastrophe. So the probability of preventing it is a power in this case 3 of the probability that each person would report him. This second probability will go down sharply with each increase in arbitary power the suspect is subject to and thus the first probability will go down even faster.

Violating the rights of the accused only serves to reduce the number of people who will be accused, save by people who bear them ill-will. Accusations based on honest suspicion of a person's actions, the only reliable guide to possible wrongdoing, will decline. This is a blow at the heart of our ability to conduct the War on Terror.