As a practical matter, there will always be a trade-off of sorts between citizen liberties and the powers a state needs to fight certain threats. Yet it is the paramount duty of any liberal democracy not only to protect the rights associated with a decent political order, but also to protect the lives of its citizens.
A fairly interesting article, I thought, with a clear purpose. There's no doubt that the French legal system is extremely different from our own, and counter-terrorism is another area in which it's not surprising to see a powerful, centralized system in place there. Some valid points are made about the fact that France is a highly functional, modern Democratic State, despite (or perhaps because of) it's highly centralized power structure. I'm not at all sure one can conclude that any of France's techniques or mechanisms can be imported, in general. I think a detailed study of each minute part would be required. Nonetheless, there's nothing wrong with being up on what everyone else is doing, especially, as the authors say, if it's working.
Beyond that, though, I want to briefly address the quote above, because I think it too swiftly passes over a crucial issue in this debate. The authors say "it is the paramount duty" -- singular -- "not only to protect the rights associated with a decent political order, but also to protect the lives of its citizens," -- plural!
This, I think, is the very crux of the matter. I don't deny that death ultimately deprives a person of his rights... that's obvious. But the issue really comes down to which of those TWO duties mentioned is, in fact, PARAMOUNT. Only one can be *most* important. It's disingenuous to conflate or gloss over them in the way the final conclusion of this article does.
Is it, in fact, more important to protect citizen rights, which affect everyone, at all times, or to absolutely minimize the chances of death, which affect specific people at a specific place in time (though I admit that we are all connected in certain meaningful ways). To the extent that we must choose one over the other, we must decide which comes out on top.
My phrasing above clearly indicates my own bias on the issue, of course, but I think it's important to point out that we should be clear in addressing which of these two concerns is in fact most important to us. To do otherwise almost completely misses the point.
RE: France: Europe's Counterterrorist Powerhouse