The approval of indefinite detention of terror suspects by Congress and Obama maintains the premise that because of exigent circumstances, civil rights and civil liberties must be curbed. This is much like the argument used for decades from Cairo to Damascus.

Indeed, the president, who is a former constitutional law professor, wanted the chief executive to retain the discretion to apply such provisions – that is, indefinite military detention – to American citizens, who otherwise are entitled under the Constitution to a speedy and public trial and several due process protections. Congress capitulated.