“Democratic civilization,” the French philosopher Jean-François Revel once observed, “is the first in history to blame itself because another power is trying to destroy it.” We thought of Revel’s comment when reading The Daily Telegraph’s recent account of a thirty-five-year-old Algerian member of al Qaeda who had been released from a British prison because he was depressed. “G.,” as the chap was identified, “had been released on house arrest after suffering a mental breakdown in custody.” Well, you know how these Algerian terrorists are: they don’t like to remain cooped-up at home. It makes them nervous. We don’t know much about G., except that in October 2003 he was sent to jail because the Court had concluded that he had “actively assisted terrorists who have links to al-Qa’eda.” So now the poor fellow is depressed. So what? Being bonkers is part of what it means to be a terrorist. Osama (if he is still with us) is probably pretty depressed, too. We certainly hope so. According to the police, G. violated house arrest by receiving unauthorized “visitors.” (Who from? Did anyone check their headgear?) The Home Secretary wanted to send G. back to jail. But the judge, a Mr. Justice Collins, ruled that the crown had failed to prove “to the necessary standard” that G. had wrongly violated house arrest. G.’s solicitor likened the risk of bail being wrongly withdrawn to the “‘sword of Damocles hanging over anyone’s head,’” and said that it was the “‘ultimate nightmare’” for G. “to be at the mercy of secret evidence that he was unable to disprove.” Well, our ultimate nightmare is the spectacle of convicted terrorists set free courtesy of the suicidal machinations of liberal lawyers and conniving courts.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 7, on page 2
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