It seems incredible, but Big Brother advocates in both parties, led by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Carl Levin (D-MI), approved by a 61-37 vote (only two Republicans voted against it) a new Defense Authorization Act (see video link below) that empowers the President of the United States, or the U.S. Military, to arrest and indefinitely detain any American citizen “suspected” of being a terrorist without due process, without a trial, without the right to consult an attorney, and this within the borders of all fifty of our beloved ‘free’ states.
That’s right, those “suspected” of being a terrorist—no common law presumption of innocent until proven guilty—just “suspected” or “accused” if you will, or how about simply not liked by the president or party in power for their failure to toe the line, to donate to the cause, to play by the rules, or for writing that editorial that wasn’t particularly friendly or supportive of the Big Boss in DC?
Don’t think I’m exaggerating, or that this is a joke—for this is precisely what happens, what has always happened when a people naively consent to having their most basic legal protections stripped under whatever pretense or supposed “crisis” some fool of a politician or political revolutionary dreamed up, conjured up, or actually believes is upon us.
And even if this or that imagined or created crisis were the real thing, whatever happened to that sort of American who stood up to that crisis and said, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”? Or who asks and then boldly answers, as Patrick Henry also did in that same bold declaration, “Is life so sweet and peace so dear as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Almighty God Forbid It!” And come to think of it, shouldn’t such “crisis” be better termed “tests” as in “a test” of our metal, of our convictions, of our integrity under pressure to preserve liberty and justice and constitutional law despite personal risk to life and fortune?
We should be appalled and alarmed at the actions of these Senators, and active in putting them out of office and in the mean time reversing this bill in its track by the Senate know, and the U.S. House know, and the President know, that whoever voted for or yet votes for this measure is out of a job. And that goes for those measures that have already invaded our rights since 9-11 as well.
Remember, our forefathers fought a revolution not over abuses alone (though abuses there were) but over potential abuses as well; that is over abuses that were certain to follow, as night followed day, the introduction of legal precedents that were at their root tyrannical (even though they were not at that moment tyrannically enforced).
One specific instance was that of the then new British policy of legislation and taxation without representation. The King would appoint a man to “represent” the Americans—something we refer to today as “virtual representation,” which was no representation at all (unless we are talking about representing the interests of the King). It was a policy which said in effect: “There you go! You colonists and your interests are represented! Now shut up! Pay your taxes! And humbly submit to every other law we enact! … or else!”
Or else indeed! The Americans weren’t stupid. They had even intercepted a communication that spoke of the Parliament’s resolve to “bind” the colonists “in all things.” But that was besides the point: The tax at the moment was minimal; the violation of the inalienable right to consent, tyrannical; and that was all that mattered. Such a tax presumes to do whatever the Crown pleases. And presumes, also, that whatever the Crown pleases is fair and just. But No it Wasn’t. It was tyranny.
Again there was the legal precedent that took away the colonists right to trial by jury, and their right to a trial before an impartial judge (the King appointed the judges and paid their salaries), and their right to a speedy public trial (the King assumed the power of hauling off “suspects” to England for trial. What an amazingly tempting tool for eliminating political opponents, the colonists reasoned. Shouldn’t we likewise so reason? Is that not what the provisions in this Defense Authorization Act portend? Can anything but tyranny be the result if we fail to stand this down and clean out our government in 2012 and beyond of such unwise and Constitutionally unsound men?
Let me repeat what is fact: Our forefathers fought a revolution not only over the tyranny of current policy but over the tyrannical abandonment of fundamental legal rights, which once built upon—and they always are built upon—bring absolute tyranny. This they knew was so because history and human nature said it was so. They often quoted a what they believed to be a near universal maxim in regards to all men in power. We’ve heard it before: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We should never forget it.
The Founders had a solution for it: a government that guaranteed frequent elections, that limited and divided power, that provided checks and balances, that threw in mixed forms of representation, that provided for a very narrow definition of treason (can you imagine anything more antithetical to this than this current bill passed in Congress), that enforced equality before the law (subjecting Congressmen and Presidents to the very laws they enact), that gave Congress the power of impeachment, that upheld and declared for Inalienable Rights (including numerous criminal rights, and other vital rights such as freedom of religion, speech, press, of appeal, and the right to protection against self-incrimination — hmm think of our post 9-11 policy in favor of torture). All of this to check the tendency of men in power to centralize all power into their own hands and make themselves kings and despots and bullies over us. Such is the inspiration of the Founding generation in accepting the reality that men aren’t angels and therefore need to be checked when in power, and to do so in a manner that protected and enlarged rather than stifled and crushed liberty.
But …. abandon principle, abandon the Constitution with all its inspired safeguards and innovations as our Senate just did, in the name of a crisis or an emergency or a war, then there will always be, as there always have been, no shortage of opportunists who will be sure to keep us on a crisis footing, an emergency footing, an eternal War on Terror footing, till in the name of security every right has been stripped from the American people. Shall we let them do it? Shall we be so unwise? Shall we neglect our duty?
I think better of us. I think we’re smarter and responsible than that. Turn this bill and these Senators back.
See Senator Rand Paul’s full speech prior to the Senate vote on this ominous Defense Authorization Act.
Steve Farrell is one of the original pundits at Silver Eddy Award Winner, NewsMax.com (1999–2008), the author of the highly praised inspirational novel Dark Rose, and The Editor in Chief of The Moral Liberal.