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T o the French, Kenneth Starr is known as the “Ayatollah sexuelle,” but after his recent comments in The Washington Post suggesting that we should cast aside traditional civil liberties in the fight against terrorism, just plain “Ayatollah” seems more fitting.

According to Starr, five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have signaled that they would give “heightened deference to the judgments of the political branches with respect to matters of national security,” and thus, would be willing to bend the constitutional rules in a case involving terrorism. Starr’s comments provide encouragement to the Department of Justice, which, according to the Post, is reportedly contemplating the use of “drugs or pressure tactics” when terrorism suspects refuse to speak, or “extraditing the suspects to allied countries where security services sometimes employ threats to family members or resort to torture.” An FBI official quoted in the Post recognizes that such evidence would be inadmissible, but says that “legally admissible evidence in court may not be the be-all and end-all.” Attorney General John Ashcroft echoed this sentiment during a recent appearance on ABC’s Nightline.

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