Whenever the courts push back against the administration's unsupportable constitutional ideas—ideas about "inherent powers" and a "unitary executive" or the silliness of the Geneva Conventions or the limitless sweep of presidential powers during wartime—the Bush response is to repeat the same chorus louder: Every detainee is the worst of the worst; every action taken is legal, necessary, and secret. No mistakes, no apologies. No nuance, no regrets. This legal and intellectual intractability can create the illusion that we are standing on the same constitutional ground we stood upon in 2001, even as that ground is sliding away under our feet.
What outrage did I forget? Send mail to Dahlia.Lithwick@hotmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless otherwise stipulated.)
Wishing you and yours a happy, and freer, New Year.
A version of this piece appears in the Washington Post Outlook section.