Friday, August 18, 2006

Want to protect the US? Defend our civil liberties

By Nancy Jane Moore

It had to happen. Not only are the Republicans saying that Judge Taylor's ruling finding warrantless wiretapping unconstitutional "weakens national security," but according to The Washington Post "[s]ome Republicans sought to tie the ruling to last week's arrests in Britain and Pakistan of alleged conspirators in a plot to blow up airliners bound from London to the United States."

Funny. I thought British intelligence caught those people. And even Bush -- the man who continues to lie about Iraqi ties to September 11 -- hasn't gone so far as to say we wouldn't have stopped the British plot without this program. Of course, he's letting members of Congress do it for him.

This administration continues to insist that they can't keep us safe without violating our due process rights. They play the fear card at every opportunity: We won't be safe unless we give up our civil liberties, stop criticizing the administration, and vote for right wingers.

I guess it depends on what you think is worth protecting. I happen to think protecting our freedom -- our real freedom, as set out in our Constitution and particularly in the Bill of Rights -- trumps everything else.

Yes, we want to prevent terrorist attacks of all kinds, including those planned by native-born extremists like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph as well as those by al Qaeda and other foreign groups. We'd also like to put a dent in the murder rate and otherwise do something about crime. It would be easier to do all those things by just throwing the Bill of Rights out the window. A lot of innocent people would get locked up, but those of us who managed not to run afoul of the government would be safe.

But if the freedoms guaranteed to us -- to the people -- under the Constitution are taken away, the US becomes as bad as any dictatorship that ever existed. National defense will be a way of protecting our wealth and our resources -- our McMansions and our SUVs -- rather than a way of protecting our principles and our liberties.

The United States will not always be the richest and most powerful nation in the world. Don't believe me? Read some history. No world power ever lasts forever. Ask the Romans. Ask Spain. Ask Britain.

But we do have something more valuable than our wealth and our power -- our core principles: The rule of law, governed by a Constitution that protects against power grabs, coupled with the freedoms codified in the Bill of Rights.

If we don't protect our civil liberties as well as our citizens, the terrorists really will have won.

Here are few more interesting links about Judge Taylor's ruling:

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