But mere intel might only save American lives, not, pace Glenn, American VALUES!
Our values and the way we do things, including the way we treat criminals in captivity, is what gives our lives meaning. It's also what separates a civilized and free society from barbarism and fascism, the very things we denounce the terrorists for being. If we continue down the route of discarding the values that make us a free society for any reason at all, we run the risk of endangering and diminishing the lives of all Americans, not just the relative few that are killed by terrorist attacks in a basically free society. This is because the continued repudiation of our values will eventually result in a police state where an ever-increasing number of Americans will be arrested and placed under the same conditions in which the terrorists (both real and merely accused) are being placed under today in places like GITMO and other secret detention centers. This will continue unabated until any American who refuses to support the new status quo that will be the end result of all of this (read: police state) will be given the "enemy combatant" treatment, and if allowed to continue to its logical conclusion, it will ultimately result in a new Dark Age for humanity, with severe consequences for everyone in the entire world and not just those living in America. If such a Dark Age in the world occurred, it may take several generations for the brave dissidents who emerge in that police state to put an end to it. America is such a powerful nation that if it was allowed to go off the deep end like that, the rest of the world may soon follow and people across the globe will suffer under such a tyranny like they never have before. So it may arguably be even more important for Americans to stay true to their values and insist that the government does the same with its foreign and domestic policies than any other purportedly free/democratic nation in the world today.
The number of American lives lost to terrorism today (not counting the numerous soldiers being sacrificed in this "war") will pale before the number of Americans who will be killed or "disappeared" into secret prisons to spend the rest of their lives under the most inhumane conditions imaginable under the new police state, which will be seen by most of them as a fate far worse than death--all because certain individuals today, when we still have a semblance of a democracy, believed that our values weren't important enough to hold on to because "we're at war."
That is one of the problems with the concept of an endless war that the Right, and now elements of the Left who want to appease them and maintain the support of right-wingers both in government and in the voting booths, are applauding. There is never a time when our civil rights are more in danger of being stripped away than during wartime, which is one of the main reasons why progressives maintain the principle that wars should be conducted as a last resort only for the purpose of self-defense of the nation, and to be ended as quickly as possible when they do occur.
Treating terrorism as something "bigger" than what it actually is, i.e., as if it were a military problem requiring soldiers and attacks on entire nations to combat, rather than a criminal problem requiring law enforcement agencies across the globe working together to deal with--along with a change in some of our more imperialist foreign policies--only plays into the hands of the terrorists by proving to both them and the world at large that what the terrorists always claim about us is the absolute truth: that we are a bunch of barbarians whose claims to being civilized and dedicated to humane values are mere facades that we toss aside at the first sign of fear. If we do this, then the terrorists will be proven right. We will not appear to be serious about those values in the first place if we are so quick to dispense with them whenever some new menace rears its ugly head at our society and challenges us to prove that we are on a higher moral plane than those that attack us.
In short, if we lose our values and democratic policies that are formed out of them, we lose something far more important than our lives, because without the former, the latter becomes devoid of all meaning and we will end up with exactly the type of governmental system that we deserve: a police state that will be so big it will put a paltry organization like Al Qaeda to shame. As I said in a previous post I made today, there is no problem or menace we will ever face as a nation that will be so "big" or dangerous that we cannot resolve it in a manner that is fully consonant with our democratic values. If we resort to draconian measures for any reason at all, we not only fail to defeat the enemy, but we actually become the enemy.