Sunday, April 19, 2009

Humiliation tames our little despots

Jacqui Smith"If our democratic liberties are in slightly better shape now than a week ago, it is because those involved in the abuse of power have been humiliated. McBride and Gordon Brown have been humbled. The Metropolitan police, who so terribly mishandled the Green case, have been made to look foolish. Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, has been debased because her department exaggerated the threat to national security from the leaks fed to Green. Those American lawyers who signed their names to waterboarding and other physical abuse of prisoners must defend their reputations now that their advice has been made public.

"To enjoy seeing those who abuse power being humbled is not sadistic. The fear of humiliation is one of the few things that make those who hold office think twice about overstepping the mark, which otherwise is so tempting. It is essential that McBride, Brown, the police, Smith and the US justice department experience painful disgrace. That helps to protect us against further violations of public trust and liberties." —Michael Portillo

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