Kenneth Roth is the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. (March 2017)

IN THE REVIEW

Must It Always Be Wartime?

Rosa Brooks moderating a discussion on ‘the next generation’s human rights challenges’ during a program that was cosponsored by The New York Review, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., April 2014

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon

by Rosa Brooks
Societies often go to great lengths to separate war from peace. Wars are declared, sometimes with elaborate ritual. Soldiers wear uniforms and are part of specialized hierarchical organizations. Battlefields are often delineated. Maintaining this distinction is important because what is permissible in wartime is often prohibited in peacetime. Preventing the rules of war from infecting views of moral conduct in times of peace is essential for preserving civilization. Yet particularly since September 11, 2001, the line between war and peace has blurred.

What Trump Should Do in Syria

If he wants to succeed where Obama failed, he will need to get tough with Putin. If he does not, then he may face a situation in which Assad’s atrocities continue to attract the extremist response that Trump says is his first priority to subdue.

NYR DAILY

Trump’s Cruel Deportations

A US Border Patrol agent checking birth certificates while taking immigrants from Central America into detention, McAllen, Texas, January 4, 2017

A fair immigration system would consider family and community ties before ordering deportation, but US law generally ignores them, and Trump’s policies are taking this to new extremes. Congress also bears responsibility for its abject failure to reform a system that everyone agrees is broken. It should require a hearing before deportation—or better yet, find a way to regularize the status of people who deserve legal recognition.

The NSA’s Global Threat to Free Speech

Following months of Snowden disclosures, the extent to which the National Security Agency’s extraordinary surveillance infringes on the privacy of our communications and other vast areas of our lives has become widely apparent. Far less appreciated, however, is the global threat it poses to freedom of expression. After the revelations about NSA surveillance, many countries have said they may require Internet companies to keep data about their citizens on servers within their own borders. If that becomes standard practice, it will be easier for repressive governments to monitor Internet communications.

Rethinking Surveillance

As a federal prosecutor in the 1980s, I used to think nothing of scooping up the phone numbers that a suspect called. I viewed that surveillance as no big deal because the Supreme Court had ruled in Smith v. Maryland (1979) that we have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the phone numbers we dial, as opposed to the content of the calls. And in any event, I had limited time or practical ability to follow up on those numbers. Today, by contrast, when I look at the government’s large-scale electronic surveillance of private communications, I see an urgent need to rethink the rationale—and legal limits—for such intrusion.