Author, American Empire: Before the Fall
Posted: December 10, 2010 02:42 PM
The state of civil liberties and national security in the United States is alarming.
In the American Empire, the former are routinely crippled or lacerated in the false name of the latter. Trust in government plunges. Dangers are magnified manifold to wound constitutionally venerated freedoms. International terrorist suspects who have never attempted to kill an American are treated as existential threats to U.S sovereignty. Predator drones employed off the battlefield in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen are spawning more enemies than are killed. Habeas corpus is suspended. Military commissions denuded of due process and which combine judge, jury, and prosecutor in a single branch of government are substituted for independent civilian courts. Time-honored privacy rights are trampled. Torture or first cousin enhanced interrogation techniques are endorsed. Congressman Peter King (R. N.Y.), slated for the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, insists that prosecutions of alleged international terrorists in civilian courts are intolerable because guilty verdicts are not guaranteed. The worst violations are dared by few, willed by more, but tolerated by virtually all.
The nation needs a new birth of freedom dedicated to the proposition that the life of a vassal or serf — even in absolute safety — is not worth living.
At present, procedural safeguards against injustice are jettisoned for the counter-constitutional dogma, “Better that many innocents suffer than that one culprit eludes punishment.” A craving for a risk-free and comfortable existence fuels the nation’s war on individual freedom. Acceptance of risk, however, is the lifeblood of a free society. Every human sports DNA capable of anti-social behavior — even the saintly. The United States is headed for the same ruination as Athens for the same reasons penned by historian Edward Gibbon: “In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom. When…the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.”
Contrary to longstanding orthodoxies, civil liberties and national security are more aligned than opposed. Scrupulous respect for freedom works hand-in-glove with national security by evoking unbegrudging loyalty among citizens eager to risk that last full measure of devotion to foil opponents and to maintain government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Patriotic soldiers are superior to mercenaries. Hessians were no match for the Minutemen in the American Revolutionary War. A military that fights more for love of country than fear or money will triumph. And love of country is elicited by the government’s securing unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
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