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Part II: The New War on Freedom

Wednesday, 27 February 2002 12:00 AM

"Secret military tribunals. A manhunt that has swept up 1,200 men, mostly in secret. Orders to question every young male emigrating from the Middle East for the past two years. Plans to loosen up rules that restrict the FBI from spying on churches and political organizations. ... Are America's civil liberties at risk?"

On the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush began his first speech on the 9-11 attacks with these stirring words:

"Freedom itself was attacked this morning, and I assure you that freedom will be defended."

Less than a week later, Congress passed the most sweeping attack on our freedom in over 50 years: The USA PATRIOT Act (HR 3162).

The USA PATRIOT Act vastly expands secret police searches of your home and business without probable cause … expands government monitoring of your computer and Internet use … creates a whole new class of crimes from which your property can be seized … expands detention of foreigners without trial … and defines terrorism so broadly that political dissent and computer hacking are included.

The USA PATRIOT Act is just one in a tidal wave of authoritarian new laws and regulations being enacted in the name of "combating terrorism" that actually do much more to threaten our freedom.

National ID cards, strip searches of children at airports, spying on prisoners' conversations with their attorneys, National Guard troops at football stadiums, F-16s with orders to shoot down suspicious aircraft, including passengers jets ... it's all part of the "new reality" since Sept. 11 – and most of it is totally unnecessary.

A doctor should not kill his patient to stop disease. Our country need not sacrifice our freedom in order to save it.

We can't continue down this path if we wish to remain a free nation and a free people.

I am not so worried the Bush administration will abuse the sweeping powers given government in the wake of Sept. 11. I am worried about a future administration, President Hillary Clinton perhaps, holding such powers.

We must remember and repeat again and again that Sept. 11 could have been avoided if the bureaucrats in Washington had done their jobs – with all of the federal power vested in them at the time before the terror attacks.

Yes, you can fight terrorism by creating a police state here in the U.S.

But a far better way, one more congruous with our political order, is to fight terrorism by going after terrorists on their home ground, before they get to the U.S.

Creating a quasi-national police force and giving local police vast new powers to spy, search, seize and detain won't make us any safer.

Let's also not forget this is not the first time Washington has demanded more powers to chase terrorists.

In the wake of the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the destruction of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, Congress passed the "Omnibus Counter-Terrorism Bill” (S390/HR896).

That law granted sweeping powers to the federal government. For example, the president is allowed to single-handedly declare any person or organization "terrorist" ... expand wiretaps and surveillance ... and eliminate the presumption of innocence for accused terrorists. The law even made impeding any federal agent punishable by total asset forfeiture.

Now, after Sept. 11, before the dust even cleared from downtown New York, Congress was passing yet another sweeping set of powers for the bureaucrats in Washington.

The best way to prevent terrorists is not to curtail civil liberties here. We can achieve this goal by knowing what the terrorists are up to and shutting them down before they carry out their plots.

Unfortunately, President Clinton made that virtually impossible with his de facto ban on the CIA recruiting foreign spies and his slashing U.S. military and intelligence budgets nearly 50 percent.

The greatest untold story of Sept. 11 is the colossal failure of our intelligence agencies.

As we have reported in NewsMax, the FBI received several warnings prior to Sept. 11 of an Arab training at a U.S. flight school who had little interest in learning how to take off and land.

For years, the CIA knew about bin Laden. He was not a surprising figure. Less than a year before Sept. 11, he masterminded the attack on the USS Cole.

Yet to this day – over five months since Sept. 11 – no one in our intelligence agencies has been called to account for those disastrous intelligence failures, and no substantial reform that would prevent such failures in the future has taken place in the FBI, CIA, NSA or military intelligence.

I am afraid we have it all wrong.

The only way to stop new and potentially far deadlier terrorist attacks on the U.S. is by terrorizing the terrorists, not terrorizing honest Americans.

We need the federal agencies that are responsible to do their jobs. Don't reward their failure to do their jobs with laws and rules that encroach on the civil liberties of Americans.

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Secret military tribunals.A manhunt that has swept up 1,200 men, mostly in secret.Orders to question every young male emigrating from the Middle East for the past two years.Plans to loosen up rules that restrict the FBI from spying on churches and political organizations....
Wednesday, 27 February 2002 12:00 AM
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