The Supreme Court's ruling last week allowing police to compel DNA samples from persons arrested for serious offenses will solve cold cases around the country, putting dangerous criminals behind bars. But despite this clearly beneficial impact, the court's 5-4 ruling was wrong -- and may be more far-reaching than we can now imagine
The important thing right now isn't whether Edward Snowden should be labeled hero or villain. First, let's have the debate he sparked over surveillance and privacy. Then we can decide how history should remember him.
Someday, a young girl will look up into her father's eyes and ask, "Daddy, what was privacy?"
The treatment of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning has been excessively harsh, as far as I can tell. If he is found guilty of leaking more than 700,000 classified documents, he deserves some punishment -- probably -- but should not be at risk of spending the rest of his life behind bars. Apparently.
With budgetary tantrums in the Senate and investigative play-acting in the House, the Republican Party is proving once again that it simply cannot be taken seriously.
President Obama wisely avoided the phrase "mission accomplished" in his major speech last week about the "war on terror," but columnists aren't obliged to be so circumspect: It is time to declare victory and get on with our lives.
President Obama should spend his remaining years in office making the United States part of the solution to climate change, not part of the problem. If Congress sticks to its policy of obstruction and willful ignorance, Obama should use his executive powers to the fullest extent. We are out of time.
With each breath, every person alive today experiences something unique in human history: an atmosphere containing more than 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide. This makes us special, I suppose, but not in a good way.
The Obama administration has no business rummaging through journalists' phone records, perusing their emails and tracking their movements in an attempt to keep them from gathering news. This heavy-handed business isn't chilling, it's just plain cold.
It also may well be unconstitutional. In my reading, the First Amendment prohibition against "abridging the freedom ... of the press" should rule out secretly obtaining two months' worth of the personal and professional phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors, including calls to and from the main AP phone number at the House press gallery in the Capitol. Yet this is what the Justice Department did.
The unwarranted snooping, which was revealed last week, would be troubling enough if it were an isolated incident. But it is part of a pattern that threatens to redefine investigative reporting as criminal behavior.
Those who are trying to make the Benghazi tragedy into a scandal for the Obama administration really ought to decide what story line they want to sell.
Actually, by "those" I mean Republicans and by "the Obama administration" I mean Hillary Clinton. The only coherent purpose I can discern in all of this is to sully Clinton's record as secretary of state in case she runs for president in 2016.
That's not a particularly noble way to use the deaths of four American public servants, but at least it's understandable. Attempts to concoct some kind of sinister Whitewater-style conspiracy, however, don't even begin to make sense.
For all the armchair generals advocating U.S. military intervention in Syria, I have a few questions:
Is human suffering the reason for the United States to act? That is the noblest and most altruistic of motives, and the estimated 70,000 lives that have been lost in Syria constitute a tragedy. But is there a numerical benchmark that constitutes a trigger for intervention?
President Obama had the opportunity this week to make an irresponsible Congress face the consequences of its own dumb actions. For reasons I cannot fathom, he took a pass.
President Obama is right to resist the mounting pressure for military intervention in Syria. Action by U.S. forces may or may not make the situation better - but certainly could make things worse.
This assessment could change, of course. It would be reasonable to consider intervention if such action were necessary to protect U.S. national security interests or prevent the kind of genocide we saw in Rwanda. At present, neither condition is met.
This view may seem cold and uncaring. According to the United Nations, more than 70,000 people have been killed in two years of brutal conflict between rebel groups and the heavily armed regime of Bashar al-Assad. More than a million Syrians have fled the country, a million more are internally displaced, and major cities have been turned into rubble-strewn battle zones.
In retrospect, George W. Bush's legacy doesn't look as bad as it did when he left office. It looks worse.
I join the nation in congratulating Bush on the opening of his presidential library in Dallas. Like many people, I find it much easier to honor, respect and even like the man - now that he's no longer in the White House.
But anyone tempted to get sentimental should remember the actual record of the man who called himself The Decider. Begin with the indelible stain that one of his worst decisions left on our country's honor: torture.
The nation demonstrated again last week how resolute it can be when threatened by murderous terrorists - and how helpless when ordered to heel by smug lobbyists for the gun industry.
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's deadly rampage through the Boston area provoked not fear but defiance. Even before one brother was killed and the other captured, the city was impatient to get back to normal - eager to show the world that unspeakable violence might shock, sadden and enrage, but would never intimidate. "Sweet Caroline," the perennial eighth-inning singalong at Fenway Park, became an unlikely anthem of unity and resistance.
I think I've figured it out. Republicans must be staging some kind of fiendishly clever plot to lure Democrats into a false sense of security.
That's the only possible explanation for some of the weirdness we're seeing and hearing from the GOP. The party must be waiting to come out with its real candidates and policy positions at a moment when unsuspecting Democrats are in the vulnerable position of being doubled over with laughter.
Why else, except for the entertainment value, would the party nominate former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford - he of Appalachian Trail fame, or infamy - in next month's special election to fill a vacant seat in Congress?