Tags: Upholding | Freedom | the | Terror | War

Upholding Freedom in the Terror War

Thursday, 20 September 2001 12:00 AM

At a news conference organized by the Free Congress Foundation’s Coalition for Constitutional Liberties, the broad coalition recalled that in every conflict since the Civil War, the long-range pressures in the crisis of the moment have been aimed at greatly expanding the powers of the federal government to restrict our freedoms.

Anyone following much of the wall-to-wall TV coverage of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 has heard the repeated mantra about how "we’re going to have to give up some of our freedoms” if we are to succeed in fighting back.

That, of course, puts President Bush and Congress, as well as state and local officials, to a crucial test.

Bottom line: Can our lawmakers wage a war against terrorism in the name of protecting freedom and at the same time make sure that very freedom is not diminished at home by measures of our own government.

Free Congress President Paul M. Weyrich was among the first to warn of this dilemma within two or three days of the attacks on the Pentagon and the Word Trade Center.

But it’s not a case of either/or, the 150 co-signers warn. Pitting civil liberties against security is "a false choice,” says their statement.

Among the groups in the coalition are the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), generally thought of as conservative, and the American Civil Liberties Union, often in the forefront of liberal causes. Both signed on to the statement titled "In Defense of Freedom at a Time of Crisis.”

Dr. Jane Orient, AAPS director, says while her organization "does not agree on every point or all wording of the statement,” the potential for privacy violations was so great as to make this coming together of diverse groups was "necessary.”

Government efforts to make haste in destroying our enemy must be encouraged, AAPS believes, but it is also possible to make haste in destroying our country "just to keep our adversaries from doing it first.”

The co-signers believe calm is required to determine where our intelligence and security failed.

Already there are reports that legislation is being sought on Capitol Hill to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to tap our phones, monitor our e-mail, and check our voice-mail messages. It is hoped that such legislation won’t see the light of day if it is formally introduced. Reports are a dime a dozen in tense times such as what this country has experienced since Sept. 11. But this diverse group hopes Americans will be able to keep their heads as they go about their tasks in countering the monstrous threat we face.

The petition can be found at http://DefendYour Freedom.com.

As examples of just how diverse the coalition is, we list some samples blow, with a (C) or (L) to denote whether they are generally perceived as conservative or liberal:

American Association of University Women (L), American Conservative Union (C), National Council of Churches (L), Americans for Religions Liberty (C), Americans For Democratic Action (L), Americans for Tax Reform (C), Common Cause (L), Competitive Enterprise Institute (C), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (L), Rutherford Institute (C), Free Congress Foundation (C), National Council of LaRaza (L).

One more note: This group is in no way to be confused with a so-called "peace” movement that is beginning to gather and hold demonstrations around the country against President Bush’s attempts to rally the country in this time of crisis. That is a coalition with a different agenda.

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At a news conference organized by the Free Congress Foundation's Coalition for Constitutional Liberties, the broad coalition recalled that in every conflict since the Civil War, the long-range pressures in the crisis of the moment have been aimed at greatly expanding the...
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2001-00-20
Thursday, 20 September 2001 12:00 AM
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