- "The world today is being asked to side with
the U.S. in a fight against global terrorism. This is only a cover. The
world is being asked today, in reality, to side with the U.S. as it seeks
to strengthen its economic hegemony. This is neither acceptable nor will
it be allowed. We must forge together to state that we are neither with
the terrorists nor with the United States."
- Mr. Speaker:
- We have been told on numerous occasions to expect a long
and protracted war. This is not necessary if one can identify the target
- the enemy - and then stay focused on that target. It's impossible to
keep one's eye on a target and hit it if one does not precisely understand
it and identify it. In pursuing any military undertaking, it's the
of Congress to know exactly why it appropriates the funding. Today, unlike
any time in our history, the enemy and its location remain vague and
In the undeclared wars of Vietnam and Korea, the enemy was known and
defined, even though our policies were confused and contradictory. Today
our policies relating to the growth of terrorism are also confused and
contradictory; however, the precise enemy and its location are not known
by anyone. Until the enemy is defined and understood, it cannot be
targeted or vanquished.
- The terrorist enemy is no more an entity than the
or some international criminal gang. It certainly is not a country, nor
is it the Afghan people. The Taliban is obviously a strong sympathizer
with bin Laden and his henchmen, but how much more so than the government
of Saudi Arabia or even Pakistan? Probably not much.
- Ulterior motives have always played a part in the foreign
policy of almost every nation throughout history. Economic gain and
expansion, or even just the desires for more political power, too often
drive the militarism of all nations. Unfortunately, in recent years, we
have not been exempt. If expansionism, economic interests, desire for
and influential allies affect our policies and they, in turn, incite mob
attacks against us, they obviously cannot be ignored. The target will be
illusive and ever enlarging, rather than vanquished.
- We do know a lot about the terrorists who spilled the
blood of nearly 4,000 innocent civilians. There were 19 of them, 15 from
Saudi Arabia, and they have paid a high price. They're all dead. So those
most responsible for the attack have been permanently taken care of. If
one encounters a single suicide bomber who takes his own life along with
others without the help of anyone else, no further punishment is possible.
The only question that can be raised under that circumstance is why did
it happen and how can we change the conditions that drove an individual
to perform such a heinous act.
- The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington are
not quite so simple, but they are similar. These attacks required funding,
planning and inspiration from others. But the total number of people
involved had to be relatively small in order to have kept the plans
concealed. Twenty accomplices, or even a hundred could have done it. But
there's no way thousands of people knew and participated in the planning
and carrying out of this attack. Moral support expressed by those who find
our policies offensive is a different matter and difficult to discover.
Those who enjoyed seeing the U.S. hit are too numerous to count and
to identify. To target and wage war against all of them is like declaring
war against an idea or sin.
- The predominant nationality of the terrorists was Saudi
Arabian. Yet for political and economic reasons, even with the lack of
cooperation from the Saudi government, we have ignored that country in
placing blame. The Afghan people did nothing to deserve another war. The
Taliban, of course, is closely tied to bin Laden and al-Qaeda, but so are
the Pakistanis and the Saudis. Even the United States was a supporter of
the Taliban's rise to power, and as recently as August of 2001, we talked
oil pipeline politics with them.
- The recent French publication of "bin Laden, The
Forbidden Truth" revealed our most recent effort to secure control
over Caspian Sea oil in collaboration with the Taliban. According to the
two authors, the economic conditions demanded by the U.S. were turned down
and led to U.S. military threats against the Taliban.
- It has been known for years that Unocal, a U.S. company,
has been anxious to build a pipeline through northern Afghanistan, but
it has not been possible due to the weak Afghan central government. We
should not be surprised now that many contend that the plan for the UN
to "nation build" in Afghanistan is a logical and important
of this desire. The crisis has merely given those interested in this
an excuse to replace the government of Afghanistan. Since we don't even
know if bin Laden is in Afghanistan, and since other countries are equally
supportive of him, our concentration on this Taliban "target"
remains suspect by many.
- Former FBI Deputy Director John O'Neill resigned in July
over duplicitous dealings with the Taliban and our oil interests. O'Neill
then took a job as head of the World Trade Center security and ironically
was killed in the 9-11 attack. The charges made by these authors in their
recent publication deserve close scrutiny and congressional oversight
and not just for the historical record.
- To understand world sentiment on this subject, one might
note a comment in "The Hindu," India's national newspaper- not
necessarily to agree with the paper's sentiment, but to help us better
understand what is being thought about us around the world in contrast
to the spin put on the war by our five major TV news networks.
- This quote comes from an article written by Sitaram
on October 13, 2001:
- The world today is being asked to side with the U.S.
in a fight against global terrorism. This is only a cover. The world is
being asked today, in reality, to side with the U.S. as it seeks to
its economic hegemony. This is neither acceptable nor will it be allowed.
We must forge together to state that we are neither with the terrorists
nor with the United States.
- The need to define our target is ever so necessary if
we're going to avoid letting this war get out of control.
- It's important to note that in the same article, the
author quoted Michael Klare, an expert on Caspian Sea oil reserves, from
an interview on Radio Free Europe: "We (the U.S.) view oil as a
consideration and we have to protect it by any means necessary, regardless
of other considerations, other values." This, of course, was a clearly
stated position of our administration in 1990 as our country was being
prepared to fight the Persian Gulf War. Saddam Hussein and his weapons
of mass destruction only became the issue later on.
- For various reasons, the enemy with whom we're now at
war remains vague and illusive. Those who commit violent terrorist acts
should be targeted with a rifle or hemlock - not with vague declarations,
with some claiming we must root out terrorism in as many as 60 countries.
If we're not precise in identifying our enemy, it's sure going to be hard
to keep our eye on the target. Without this identification, the war will
spread and be needlessly prolonged.
- Why is this definition so crucial? Because without it,
the special interests and the ill-advised will clamor for all kinds of
expansive militarism. Planning to expand and fight a never-ending war in
60 countries against worldwide terrorist conflicts with the notion that,
at most, only a few hundred ever knew of the plans to attack the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon. The pervasive and indefinable enemy-
- cannot be conquered with weapons and UN nation building - only a more
sensible pro-American foreign policy will accomplish this. This must occur
if we are to avoid a cataclysmic expansion of the current
- It was said that our efforts were to be directed toward
the terrorists responsible for the attacks, and overthrowing and
new governments were not to be part of the agenda. Already we have clearly
taken our eyes off that target and diverted it toward building a
UN-sanctioned government in Afghanistan. But if bin Laden can hit us in
New York and DC, what should one expect to happen once the US/UN
a new government in Afghanistan with occupying troops. It seems that would
be an easy target for the likes of al Qaeda.
- Since we don't know in which cave or even in which
bin Laden is hiding, we hear the clamor of many for us to overthrow our
next villain - Saddam Hussein - guilty or not. On the short list of
to be attacked are North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran, and the Sudan, just
for starters. But this jingoistic talk is foolhardy and dangerous. The
war against terrorism cannot be won in this manner.
- The drumbeat for attacking Baghdad grows louder every
day, with Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, Richard Perle, and Bill Bennett
leading the charge. In a recent interview, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz, made it clear: "We are going to continue pursuing
the entire al Qaeda network which is in 60 countries, not just
Fortunately, President Bush and Colin Powell so far have resisted the
to expand the war into other countries. Let us hope and pray that they
do not yield to the clamor of the special interests that want us to take
- The argument that we need to do so because Hussein is
producing weapons of mass destruction is the reddest of all herrings. I
sincerely doubt that he has developed significant weapons of mass
However, if that is the argument, we should plan to attack all those
that have similar weapons or plans to build them- countries like China,
North Korea, Israel, Pakistan, and India. Iraq has been uncooperative with
the UN World Order and remains independent of western control of its oil
reserves, unlike Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This is why she has been bombed
steadily for 11 years by the U.S. and Britain. My guess is that in the
not-too-distant future, so-called proof will be provided that Saddam
was somehow partially responsible for the attack in the United States,
and it will be irresistible then for the U.S. to retaliate against him.
This will greatly and dangerously expand the war and provoke even greater
hatred toward the United States, and it's all so unnecessary.
- It's just so hard for many Americans to understand how
we inadvertently provoke the Arab/Muslim people, and I'm not talking about
the likes of bin Laden and his al Qaeda gang. I'm talking about the
- In 1996, after five years of sanctions against Iraq and
persistent bombings, CBS reporter Lesley Stahl asked our Ambassador to
the United Nations, Madeline Albright, a simple question: "We have
heard that a half million children have died (as a consequence of our
against Iraq). Is the price worth it?" Albright's response was
think the price is worth it." Although this interview won an Emmy
award, it was rarely shown in the U.S. but widely circulated in the Middle
East. Some still wonder why America is despised in this region of the
- Former President George W. Bush has been criticized for
not marching on to Baghdad at the end of the Persian Gulf War. He gave
then, and stands by his explanation today, a superb answer of why it was
ill-advised to attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power - there were
strategic and tactical, as well as humanitarian, arguments against it.
But the important and clinching argument against annihilating Baghdad was
political. The coalition, in no uncertain terms, let it be known they
no part of it. Besides, the UN only authorized the removal of Saddam
from Kuwait. The UN has never sanctioned the continued U.S. and British
bombing of Iraq - a source of much hatred directed toward the United
- But placing of U.S. troops on what is seen as Muslim
holy land in Saudi Arabia seems to have done exactly what the former
was trying to avoid - the breakup of the coalition. The coalition has hung
together by a thread, but internal dissention among the secular and
Arab/Muslim nations within individual countries has intensified. Even
the current crisis threatens the overthrow of every puppet pro-western
Arab leader from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
- Many of the same advisors from the first Bush presidency
are now urging the current President to finish off Hussein. However, every
reason given 11 years ago for not leveling Baghdad still holds true today
- if not more so.
- It has been argued that we needed to maintain a presence
in Saudi Arabia after the Persian Gulf War to protect the Saudi government
from Iraqi attack. Others argued that it was only a cynical excuse to
keeping troops to protect what our officials declared were "our"
oil supplies. Some have even suggested that our expanded presence in Saudi
Arabia was prompted by a need to keep King Fahd in power and to thwart
any effort by Saudi fundamentalists to overthrow his regime.
- Expanding the war by taking on Iraq at this time may
well please some allies, but it will lead to unbelievable chaos in the
region and throughout the world. It will incite even more anti-American
sentiment and expose us to even greater dangers. It could prove to be an
unmitigated disaster. Iran and Russia will not be pleased with this
- It is not our job to remove Saddam Hussein - that is
the job of the Iraqi people. It is not our job to remove the Taliban -
that is the business of the Afghan people. It is not our job to insist
that the next government in Afghanistan include women, no matter how good
an idea it is. If this really is an issue, why don't we insist that our
friends in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait do the same thing, as well as impose
our will on them? Talk about hypocrisy! The mere thought that we fight
wars for affirmative action in a country 6,000 miles from home, with no
cultural similarities, should insult us all. Of course it does distract
us from the issue of an oil pipeline through northern Afghanistan. We need
to keep our eye on the target and not be so easily distracted.
- Assume for a minute that bin Laden is not in Afghanistan.
Would any of our military efforts in that region be justified? Since none
of it would be related to American security, it would be difficult to
- Assume for a minute that bin Laden is as ill as I believe
he is with serious renal disease, would he not do everything conceivable
for his cause by provoking us into expanding the war and alienating as
many Muslims as possible?
- Remember, to bin Laden, martyrdom is a noble calling,
and he just may be more powerful in death than he is in life. An American
invasion of Iraq would please bin Laden, because it would rally his troops
against any moderate Arab leader who appears to be supporting the United
States. It would prove his point that America is up to no good, that oil
and Arab infidels are the source of all the Muslims' problems.
- We have recently been reminded of Admiral Yamamoto's
quote after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in expressing his fear that the
event "Awakened a sleeping giant." Most everyone agrees with
the prophetic wisdom of that comment. But I question the accuracy of
an analogy between the Pearl Harbor event and the World Trade Center
We are hardly the same nation we were in 1941. Today, we're anything but
a sleeping giant. There's no contest for our status as the world's only
economic, political and military super power. A "sleeping giant"
would not have troops in 141 countries throughout the world and be engaged
in every conceivable conflict with 250,000 troops stationed abroad.
- The fear I have is that our policies, along with those
of Britain, the UN, and NATO since World War II, inspired and have now
awakened a long-forgotten sleeping giant- Islamic fundamentalism.
- Let's hope for all our sakes that Iraq is not made the
target in this complex war.
- The President, in the 2000 presidential campaign, argued
against nation building, and he was right to do so. He also said, "If
we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us." He wisely argued for
humility and a policy that promotes peace. Attacking Baghdad or declaring
war against Saddam Hussein, or even continuing the illegal bombing of Iraq,
is hardly a policy of humility designed to promote peace.
- As we continue our bombing of Afghanistan, plans are
made to install a new government sympathetic to the West and under UN
The persuasive argument as always is money. We were able to gain Pakistan's
support, although it continually wavers, in this manner. Appropriations
are already being prepared in the Congress to rebuild all that we destroy
in Afghanistan, and then some- even before the bombing has stopped.
- Rumsfeld's plan, as reported in Turkey's
newspaper, lays out the plan for the next Iraqi government. Turkey's
is crucial, so the plan is to give Turkey oil from the northern Iraq Karkuk
field. The United States has also promised a pipeline running from Iraq
through Turkey. How can the Turks resist such a generous offer? Since we
subsidize Turkey and they bomb the Kurds, while we punish the Iraqis for
the same, this plan to divvy up wealth in the land of the Kurds is hardly
- It seems that Washington never learns. Our foolish
interventions continually get us into more trouble than we have bargained
for- and the spending is endless. I am not optimistic that this Congress
will anytime soon come to its senses. I am afraid that we will never treat
the taxpayers with respect. National bankruptcy is a more likely scenario
than Congress adopting a frugal and wise spending policy.
- Mr. Speaker, we must make every effort to precisely
our target in this war and keep our eye on it.
- It is safe to assume that the number of people directly
involved in the 9-11 attacks is closer to several hundred than the millions
we are now talking about targeting with our planned shotgun approach to
- One commentator pointed out that when the mafia commits
violence, no one suggests we bomb Sicily. Today it seems we are, in a
way, not only bombing "Sicily," but are thinking about bombing
- If a corrupt city or state government does business with
a drug cartel or organized crime and violence results, we don't bomb city
hall or the state capital- we limit the targets to those directly guilty
and punish them. Could we not learn a lesson from these examples?
- It is difficult for everyone to put the 9-11 attacks
in a proper perspective, because any attempt to do so is construed as
the utter horror of the events of that day. We must remember, though, that
the 3,900 deaths incurred in the World Trade Center attacks are just
more than the deaths that occur on our nation's highways each month. Could
it be that the sense of personal vulnerability we survivors feel motivates
us in meting out justice, rather than the concern for the victims of the
attacks? Otherwise, the numbers don't add up to the proper response. If
we lose sight of the target and unwisely broaden the war, the tragedy of
9-11 may pale in the death and destruction that could lie ahead.
- As members of Congress, we have a profound responsibility
to mete out justice, provide security for our nation, and protect the
of all the people, without senselessly expanding the war at the urging
of narrow political and economic special interests. The price is too high,
and the danger too great. We must not lose our focus on the real target
and inadvertently create new enemies for ourselves.
- We have not done any better keeping our eye on the
target on the home front than we have overseas. Not only has Congress come
up short in picking the right target, it has directed all its energies
in the wrong direction. The target of our efforts has sadly been the
all Americans enjoy. With all the new power we have given to the
none has truly improved the chances of catching the terrorists who were
responsible for the 9-11 attacks. All Americans will soon feel the
of this new legislation.
- Just as the crisis provided an opportunity for some to
promote a special-interest agenda in our foreign policy efforts, many have
seen the crisis as a chance to achieve changes in our domestic laws,
which, up until now, were seen as dangerous and unfair to American
- Granting bailouts is not new for Congress, but current
conditions have prompted many takers to line up for handouts. There has
always been a large constituency for expanding federal power for whatever
reason, and these groups have been energized. The military-industrial
is out in full force and is optimistic. Union power is pleased with recent
events and has not missed the opportunity to increase membership rolls.
Federal policing powers, already in a bull market, received a super shot
in the arm. The IRS, which detests financial privacy, gloats, while all
the big spenders in Washington applaud the tools made available to crack
down on tax dodgers. The drug warriors and anti-gun zealots love the new
powers that now can be used to watch the every move of our citizens.
who talk of the Constitution, promote right-to-life, form citizen militias,
or participate in non-mainstream religious practices now can be monitored
much more effectively by those who find their views offensive. Laws
passed by the Congress apply to all Americans- not just terrorists. But
we should remember that if the terrorists are known and identified,
laws would have been quite adequate to deal with them.
- Even before the passage of the recent draconian
hundreds had already been arrested under suspicion, and millions of dollars
of al Qaeda funds had been frozen. None of these new laws will deal with
uncooperative foreign entities like the Saudi government, which chose not
to relinquish evidence pertaining to exactly who financed the terrorists'
operations. Unfortunately, the laws will affect all innocent Americans,
yet will do nothing to thwart terrorism.
- The laws recently passed in Congress in response to the
terrorist attacks can be compared to the effort by anti-gun fanatics, who
jump at every chance to undermine the Second Amendment. When crimes are
committed with the use of guns, it's argued that we must remove guns from
society, or at least register them and make it difficult to buy them. The
counter argument made by Second Amendment supporters correctly explains
that this would only undermine the freedom of law-abiding citizens and
do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or to reduce
- Now we hear a similar argument that a certain amount
of privacy and personal liberty of law-abiding citizens must be sacrificed
in order to root out possible terrorists. This will result only in
being lost, and will not serve to preempt any terrorist act. The criminals,
just as they know how to get guns even when they are illegal, will still
be able to circumvent anti-terrorist laws. To believe otherwise is to
a Faustian bargain, but that is what I believe the Congress has
- We know from the ongoing drug war that federal drug
frequently make mistakes, break down the wrong doors and destroy property.
Abuses of seizure and forfeiture laws are numerous. Yet the new laws will
encourage even more mistakes by federal law-enforcement agencies. It has
long been forgotten that law enforcement in the United States was supposed
to be a state and local government responsibility, not that of the federal
government. The federal government's policing powers have just gotten a
giant boost in scope and authority through both new legislation and
- Before the 9-11 attack, Attorney General Ashcroft let
his position be known regarding privacy and government secrecy. Executive
Order 13223 made it much more difficult for researchers to gain access
to presidential documents from previous administrations, now a "need
to know" has to be demonstrated. This was a direct hit at efforts
to demand openness in government, even if only for analysis and writing
of history. Ashcroft's position is that presidential records ought to
secret, even after an administration has left office. He argues that
deserves privacy while ignoring the 4th Amendment protections of the
privacy. He argues his case by absurdly claiming he must
privacy of the individuals who might be involved- a non-problem that could
easily be resolved without closing public records to the public.
- It is estimated that approximately 1,200 men have been
arrested as a consequence of 9-11, yet their names and the charges are
not available, and according to Ashcroft, will not be made available. Once
again, he uses the argument that he's protecting the privacy of those
Unbelievable! Due process for the detainees has been denied. Secret
is winning out over open government. This is the largest number of people
to be locked up under these conditions since FDR's internment of
during World War II. Information regarding these arrests is a must, in
a constitutional republic. If they're terrorists or accomplices, just let
the public know and pursue their prosecution. But secret arrests and
are not acceptable in a society that professes to be free. Curtailing
is not the answer to protecting freedom under adverse circumstances.
- The administration has severely curtailed briefings
the military operation in Afghanistan for congressional leaders, ignoring
a long-time tradition in this country. One person or one branch of
should never control military operations. Our system of government has
always required a shared-power arrangement.
- The Anti-Terrorism Bill did little to restrain the growth
of big government. In the name of patriotism, the Congress did some very
unpatriotic things. Instead of concentrating on the persons or groups that
committed the attacks on 9-11, our efforts, unfortunately, have undermined
the liberties of all Americans.
- "Know Your Customer" type banking regulations,
resisted by most Americans for years, have now been put in place in an
expanded fashion. Not only will the regulations affect banks, thrifts and
credit unions, but also all businesses will be required to file suspicious
transaction reports if cash is used with the total of the transaction
$10,000. Retail stores will be required to spy on all their customers and
send reports to the U.S. government. Financial services consultants are
convinced that this new regulation will affect literally millions of
American citizens. The odds that this additional paperwork will catch a
terrorist are remote. The sad part is that the regulations have been sought
after by federal law-enforcement agencies for years. The 9-11 attacks have
served as an opportunity to get them by the Congress and the American
- Only now are the American people hearing about the
portions of the anti-terrorism legislation, and they are not
- It's easy for elected officials in Washington to tell
the American people that the government will do whatever it takes to defeat
terrorism. Such assurances inevitably are followed by proposals either
to restrict the constitutional liberties of the American people or to spend
vast sums of money from the federal treasury. The history of the 20th
shows that the Congress violates our Constitution most often during times
of crisis. Accordingly, most of our worst unconstitutional agencies and
programs began during the two World Wars and the Depression. Ironically,
the Constitution itself was conceived in a time of great crisis. The
intended its provision to place severe restrictions on the federal
even in times of great distress. America must guard against current calls
for government to sacrifice the Constitution in the name of law
- The"anti-terrorism" legislation recently passed
by Congress demonstrates how well-meaning politicians make shortsighted
mistakes in a rush to respond to a crisis. Most of its provisions were
never carefully studied by Congress, nor was sufficient time taken to
the bill despite its importance. No testimony was heard from privacy
or from others fields outside of law enforcement. Normal congressional
committee and hearing processes were suspended. In fact, the final version
of the bill was not even made available to Members before the vote! The
American public should not tolerate these political games, especially when
our precious freedoms are at stake.
- Almost all of the new laws focus on American citizens
rather than potential foreign terrorists. For example, the definition of
"terrorism," for federal criminal purposes, has been greatly
expanded A person could now be considered a terrorist by belonging to a
pro-constitution group, a citizen militia, or a pro-life organization.
Legitimate protests against the government could place tens of thousands
of other Americans under federal surveillance. Similarly, internet use
can be monitored without a user's knowledge, and internet providers can
be forced to hand over user information to law-enforcement officials
a warrant or subpoena.
- The bill also greatly expands the use of traditional
surveillance tools, including wiretaps, search warrants, and subpoenas.
Probable-cause standards for these tools are relaxed, or even eliminated
in some circumstances. Warrants become easier to obtain and can be executed
without notification. Wiretaps can be placed without a court order. In
fact, the FBI and CIA now can tap phones or computers nationwide, without
demonstrating that a criminal suspect is using a particular phone or
- The biggest problem with these new law-enforcement powers
is that they bear little relationship to fighting terrorism. Surveillance
powers are greatly expanded, while checks and balances on government are
greatly reduced. Most of the provisions have been sought by domestic
agencies for years, not to fight terrorism, but rather to increase their
police power over the American people. There is no evidence that our
held civil liberties posed a barrier to the effective tracking or
of terrorists. The federal government has made no showing that it failed
to detect or prevent the recent terrorist strikes because of the civil
liberties that will be compromised by this new legislation.
- In his speech to the joint session of Congress following
the September 11th attacks, President Bush reminded all of us that the
United States outlasted and defeated Soviet totalitarianism in the last
century. The numerous internal problems in the former Soviet Union- its
centralized economic planning and lack of free markets, its repression
of human liberty and its excessive militarization- all led to its
collapse. We must be vigilant to resist the rush toward ever-increasing
state control of our society, so that our own government does not become
a greater threat to our freedoms than any foreign terrorist.
- The executive order that has gotten the most attention
by those who are concerned that our response to 9-11 is overreaching and
dangerous to our liberties is the one authorizing military justice, in
secret. Nazi war criminals were tried in public, but plans now are laid
to carry out the trials and punishment, including possibly the death
outside the eyes and ears of the legislative and judicial branches of
and the American public. Since such a process threatens national security
and the Constitution, it cannot be used as a justification for their
- Some have claimed this military tribunal has been in
the planning stages for five years. If so, what would have been its
- The argument that FDR did it and therefore it must be
OK is a rather weak justification. Roosevelt was hardly one that went by
the rule book- the Constitution. But the situation then was quite different
from today. There was a declared war by Congress against a precise enemy,
the Germans, who sent eight saboteurs into our country. Convictions were
unanimous, not 2/3 of the panel, and appeals were permitted. That's not
what's being offered today. Furthermore, the previous military tribunals
expired when the war ended. Since this war will go on indefinitely, so
too will the courts.
- The real outrage is that such a usurpation of power can
be accomplished with the stroke of a pen. It may be that we have come to
that stage in our history when an executive order is "the law of the
land," but it's not "kinda cool," as one member of the
administration bragged. It's a process that is unacceptable, even in this
professed time of crisis.
- There are well-documented histories of secret military
tribunals. Up until now, the United States has consistently condemned them.
The fact that a two-thirds majority can sentence a person to death in
in the United States is scary. With no appeals available, and no defense
attorneys of choice being permitted, fairness should compel us to reject
such a system outright.
- Those who favor these trials claim they are necessary
to halt terrorism in its tracks. We are told that only terrorists will
be brought before these tribunals. This means that the so-called suspects
must be tried and convicted before they are assigned to this type of
without due process. They will be deemed guilty by hearsay, in contrast
to the traditional American system of justice where all are innocent until
proven guilty. This turns the justice system on its head.
- One cannot be reassured by believing these courts will
only apply to foreigners who are terrorists. Sloppiness in convicting
is a slippery slope. We should not forget that the Davidians at Waco were
"convicted" and demonized and slaughtered outside our judicial
system, and they were, for the most part, American citizens. Randy Weaver's
family fared no better.
- It has been said that the best way for us to spread our
message of freedom, justice and prosperity throughout the world is through
example and persuasion, not through force of arms. We have drifted a long
way from that concept. Military courts will be another bad example for
the world. We were outraged in 1996 when Lori Berenson, an American
was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life by a Peruvian military court.
Instead of setting an example, now we are following the lead of a Peruvian
- The ongoing debate regarding the use of torture in
up the criminals involved in the 9-11 attacks is too casual. This can
represent progress in the cause of liberty and justice. Once government
becomes more secretive, it is more likely this tool will be abused.
the Congress will not endorse or turn a blind eye to this barbaric
For every proposal made to circumvent the justice system, it's intended
that we visualize that these infractions of the law and the Constitution
will apply only to terrorists and never involve innocent U.S. citizens.
This is impossible, because someone has to determine exactly who to bring
before the tribunal, and that involves all of us. That is too much
power for anyone to be given in a representative government and is more
characteristic of a totalitarian government.
- Many throughout the world, especially those in Muslim
countries, will be convinced by the secretive process that the real reason
for military courts is that the U.S. lacks sufficient evidence to convict
in an open court. Should we be fighting so strenuously the war against
terrorism and carelessly sacrifice our traditions of American justice?
If we do, the war will be for naught and we will lose, even if we
- Congress has a profound responsibility in all of this
and should never concede this power to a President or an Attorney General.
Congressional oversight powers must be used to their fullest to curtail
this unconstitutional assumption of power.
- The planned use of military personnel to patrol our
and airports is another challenge of great importance that should not go
uncontested. For years, many in Washington have advocated a national
to all policing activity. This current crisis has given them a tremendous
boost. Believe me, this is no panacea and is a dangerous move. The
never intended that the federal government assume this power. This concept
was codified in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. This act prohibits the
military from carrying out law-enforcement duties such as searching or
arresting people in the United States, the argument being that the military
is only used for this type of purpose in a police state. Interestingly,
it was the violation of these principles that prompted the Texas Revolution
against Mexico. The military under the Mexican Constitution at that time
was prohibited from enforcing civil laws, and when Santa Anna ignored this
prohibition, the revolution broke out. We should not so readily concede
the principle that has been fought for on more than one occasion in this
- The threats to liberty seem endless. It seems we have
forgotten to target the enemy. Instead we have inadvertently targeted the
rights of American citizens. The crisis has offered a good opportunity
for those who have argued all along for bigger government.
- For instance, the military draft is the ultimate insult
to those who love personal liberty. The Pentagon, even with the ongoing
crisis, has argued against the reinstatement of the draft. Yet the clamor
for its reinstatement grows louder daily by those who wanted a return to
the draft all along. I see the draft as the ultimate abuse of liberty.
Morally it cannot be distinguished from slavery. All the arguments for
drafting 18-year old men and women and sending them off to foreign wars
are couched in terms of noble service to the country and benefits to the
draftees. The need-for-discipline argument is the most common reason given,
after the call for service in an effort to make the world safe for
There can be no worse substitute for the lack of parental guidance of
than the federal government's domineering control, forcing them to fight
an enemy they don't even know in a country they can't even identity.
- Now it's argued that since the federal government has
taken over the entire job of homeland security, all kinds of jobs can be
found for the draftees to serve the state, even for those who are
- The proponents of the draft call it "mandatory
Slavery, too, was mandatory, but few believed it was a service. They claim
that every 18-year old owes at least two years of his life to his country.
Let's hope the American people don't fall for this "need to
argument. The Congress should refuse to even consider such a proposal.
Better yet, what we need to do is abolish the Selective Service
- However, if we get to the point of returning to the
I have a proposal. Every news commentator, every Hollywood star, every
newspaper editorialist, and every Member of Congress under the age of 65
who has never served in the military and who demands that the draft be
reinstated, should be drafted first- the 18-year olds last. Since the
says they don't need draftees, these new recruits can be the first to march
to the orders of the general in charge of homeland security. For those
less robust individuals, they can do the hospital and cooking chores for
the rest of the newly formed domestic army. After all, someone middle aged
owes a lot more to his country than an 18-year old.
- I'm certain that this provision would mute the loud
for the return of the military draft.
- I see good reason for American citizens to be concerned-
not only about another terrorist attack, but for their own personal
as the Congress deals with the crisis. Personal freedom is the element
of the human condition that has made America great and unique and something
we all cherish. Even those who are more willing to sacrifice a little
for security do it with the firm conviction that they are acting in the
best interest of freedom and justice. However, good intentions can never
suffice for sound judgment in the defense of liberty.
- I do not challenge the dedication and sincerity of those
who disagree with the freedom philosophy and confidently promote government
solutions for all our ills. I am just absolutely convinced that the best
formula for giving us peace and preserving the American way of life is
freedom, limited government, and minding our own business overseas.
- Henry Grady Weaver, author of a classic book on freedom,
The Mainspring of Human Progress, years ago warned us that good intentions
in politics are not good enough and actually are dangerous to the cause.
- "Most of the major ills of the world have been
by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom,
except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal
to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their
own. The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves
is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings
by the professional do-gooders, who attempt to set themselves up as gods
on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others- with
the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means."
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