Abuse in a time of fear

Barbara Falk compares the Rosenbergs and Omar Khadr.

American justice has been marred in both the Cold War and the War on Terror by a combination of politically motivated prosecutions with larger didactic purposes, the over-reliance on conspiracy charges to lower the burden of proof, and the relaxation of the rules of evidence law. In both eras, the refrain of national security has been invoked. But it is at times of national insecurity that legal safeguards are needed the most, and it is to the most politically unpopular defendants already demonized by the media and in the court of public opinion that the most stringent due-process requirements should be applied. To do otherwise, as both the cases of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and of Omar Khadr attest, is to politicize justice and abuse the rule of law.