Tom Lasseter's report on innocent people detained by the United States in our war on terror (remember this case?) reminds me of my reaction how Scalia characterized the majority's ruling in Boumediene. He said that the court's ruling, giving detainees Habeas rights against their indefinite detentions, "will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."
He might be right. He might not be -- I'm skeptical there is no trade-off by which our continued flouting of human rights doesn't redound back against us in the form of more violence (when Scalia pointed to several released detainees who engaged in acts of violence against American troops, my response was "well sure -- if they didn't hate America before, they sure as hell do now!"). But he might be right. It is entirely possible that, in the wake of this decision, our jobs will become harder, and more Americans will be killed.
You know what else has that effect? Rights. The fact that the police can't just bomb apartment buildings with suspected criminals inside puts officers at risk. Some, inevitably, will be wounded or killed as a result. Yet, we restrict ourselves anyway. Every right afforded to criminal suspects (a significant concern of our bill of rights) could be cast as putting Americans at risk. The "safe" thing to do would be to shell "bad" neighborhoods into submission and then round up the survivors and place them in internment camps. That would keep Americans alive. It would just be hideously immoral, so we don't do it.
The point is that being a moral human being means that there are some things we can't do, even if they're in our immediate security interests, because they're wrong. In the context of war, certain tactics definitionally cause us to lose the war even if they help an individual battle. When Scalia makes this sort of argument, he betrays a basic misunderstanding of what it means to live in a free society -- in a society that cares about morality, in a society that is constrained by the constitution. "Security" simply does not give us free license to do whatever we want. What Scalia wants is for America to have the liberty to become terrorists. Our founders were wise enough to chart a different course.