Nat Hentoff on the, ahem, interesting Constitutional doctrine of Michael Mukasey:
In a 2004 article in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Mukasey argued that while the Constitution's first 10 amendments (the Bill of Rights) are noble, if you give constitutional prominence to these rights of individuals against the government, "then citizens will feel much less inclined to sacrifice in behalf of their government." (Sacrifice their individual liberties?) In that same article, he added, as the Bush administration also has with regard to these perilous times, that "at least in the first instance," citizens should give the government "the benefit of the doubt." (The most secretive government in our history?)
Libertarian author James Bovard, in an interview with Charles Goyette, characterizes this doctrine as the view that the secret meaning of the Constitution is that the government receives the benefit of the doubt when it purposes to do something. And while there are interesting legal and philosophical questions implicated in these controversies concerning the balance of powers, as well as the scope of governmental authority in wartime, it should be sufficient to observe that any Constitutional doctrine which posits "giving government the benefit of the doubt" as a balance to "individual rights inclining people against sacrificing on behalf of their government" (as opposed to, say, family, Church, people, community, etc.) is perilous. Though the phrase will undoubtedly have the ring of the antiquated, a government of limited and delegated powers is not one that ordinarily demands sacrifice of its citizens.