Highlights

 
Quotable
It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own.
Albert J. Nock
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
June 14, 2002

Let's Just Scrap the Bill of Rights


by Harry Browne

If you pay attention to news about the "War on Terrorism," you may be a bit confused about what our government is doing.

One day Mr. Macho tells us we're at war and we must put up with the intrusions of liberty that normally accompany war.

The next day we're told this "struggle" may last beyond our lifetimes (or at least until after November 2, 2004). But wars usually come to an end. So this must not be a war.

Then we're told that people captured (no matter by whom) will be held in military prisons and tried by military courts. So this must be a war.

But then we realize it can't be a war, because the Constitution provides that only Congress can declare war and it hasn't done so. Thus this must not be a war.

So is it war or is it Memorex?

Consistency

It's neither. It's simply whatever the President chooses to call it on any given day. They're making up the rules as they go along. The only consistency is the constant invocation of the power of the President to do whatever he wants.

Just as the shredding of the Constitution has put us at the mercy of Congressmen who spend your money for whatever they choose, so the "War on Terrorism" has put us at the mercy of the Bush administration which does whatever it wants in the name of "national security."

Whatever the politicians choose to call it on any given day, they keep acting as though the country is at war with some foreign power. But since that foreign power isn't located in any specific part of the world, our government feels free to attack anyone it wants, anywhere it wants, anytime it wants and call it a "preemptive" strike against terrorists and terrorist states.

Proof?

The government never provides any evidence to support its claims that some country is a proper target of attack.

Realize that virtually everything you know about the "War on Terrorism" and virtually everything you hear in the news emanates without proof from the same politicians who lie to us regularly about budget surpluses and program reductions.

In effect, we're supposed to believe everything they tell us even though in any other situation we consider them generally to be deceiving, self-aggrandizing, power-hungry hypocrites.

Wartime Exceptions?

We're told that the usual constitutional rules don't apply because the country is at war. We must put up with invasions of civil liberties and we must allow the politicians to vote for boondoggles and trust that some part of what they appropriate will actually make the country safer.

But while some Constitutional provisions do mention exceptions, there are no exceptions specified for wartime.

In fact, one reason we have a Constitution is to protect us from politicians at times of greatest danger.

If it's important that they obey the Constitution when appropriating money, how much more important it is that they obey the Constitution when our lives are at stake!

Bill of Rights

For the past 140 years, the politicians have been tearing down the Constitution bit by bit.

In early 2001, the only part of the Constitution that still provided any protection for us was the Bill of Rights. Even with outrages such as asset forfeiture and no-knock warrants, most accused Americans still enjoyed the ability to confront witnesses against them, a right to a speedy trial by jury, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

But no more. Apparently, the Bill of Rights is a luxury Americans can no longer afford.

At least that's the way George Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Ashcroft see it.

They've locked up Jose Padilla and thrown away the key. No attorney, no charges against him, no trial, no plans for a trial.

Should We Care?

But who cares? After all, he's a terrorist, isn't he?

Is he? How do we know that?

Because the politicians told us so.

The reason we have a Bill of Rights is to guarantee an open trial at which the evidence is available for all to see rather than depending on the assurances of politicians who have already proven to be untrustworthy.

What happens if one of those super-efficient FBI or CIA agents decides you are a terrorist? You might go to a military prison. No right to see an attorney or even your family. No trial. And probably no guarantee you won't be tortured.

But you're innocent!

How are you going to prove it if you can't speak to anyone but the people who arrested you?

Is this the kind of America you want to live in?

 

comments on this article?
 
 
Archives
Harry Browne is a best-selling author and two-time Libertarian Party nominee for president.

Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
without written permission is strictly prohibited.
Copyright 2014 Antiwar.com