One of my favourite plays is A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. It was made into a stunning film in 1966 starring one of my favourite actors of all time, Orson Welles, and Paul Scofield. Scofield plays Sir Thomas More who got on the wrong side of Henry VIII, his head eventually meeting with the King's guillotine. In one scene, Richard Rich, who everyone suspects to be a spy is allowed to roam free unopposed. William Roper the Younger is an upstart whipper snapper who thinks he's the bees knees:
More: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast -- man's laws, not God's -- and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand pright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.
The law does not just exist to punish the guilty, but also to protect the innocent. Which is why Guantanamo Bay detention camp is inexcusable. Which is why detaining suspects for 90 days without recourse to habeas corpus is unforgivable. We may want to bend and break the rules to catch the men that evil do, but once the rules have been destroyed, how will we be protected?