A Fallows reader - in another must-read post - makes a powerful point:
"You wrote about "the Dick Cheney view, the 24 view, which equates the torture memos with Abraham Lincoln's imposition of martial law." "Dick Cheney is not merely arguing to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, but is also arguing to torture people held under that standard, and he's advocating it whether or not there's an imminent threat of attack.
Lincoln was shot down by the Court when he held would-be saboteurs in Indiana in 1864 because Indiana was not facing an immediate threat. The Court found martial law illegal in Hawaii in 1944 because the state was not under an immediate threat of attack.
I think both of those examples are fairly analogous to the threat posed by terrorism today. There was certainly the chance of a surprise attack against Hawaii at that time or sabotage in either Indiana or Hawaii at either time. There's a chance that a terrorist affiliated with a terrorist suspect in our custody can attack at any time, anywhere. So, Cheney's matching Lincoln and going further than Lincoln in two ways...
Cheney's position is equivalent to saying that, since Hiroshima was necessary, the atom bomb should be our first resort in any international conflict."
[My italics]. Eventually, I think, the radicalness of Dick Cheney's attack on America will come to seem exactly what it was.