Thursday, January 05, 2006

Presidential Duties.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety".
-Benjamin Franklin

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."
-Thomas Jefferson

Our country was built on the concept of freedom... not freedom as a privilege that can be sacrificed at the leisure of the government, but freedom as an inalienable right that should never be compromised, but since 9-11-01, George W. Bush and his administration have gone out of their way to characterize freedom a privilege that might need to be compromised in order to protect this country from future terrorist attacks.

Recently, Bush answered his critics by explaining that he was not going to discuss issues pertaining to the classified operations of our government in the midst of this war on terror. He has stated that his job is to protect this country from terrorists and that he can't compromise that project. However, that's not his job at all. Consider the Presidential oath of office:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

There is nothing wrong with fighting terror, spreading democracy or privatizing social security, as long as the Constitution is upheld but once the President forsakes the Constitution he is dangerously close to committing treason. Bush might think his narrow re-election granted him a "mandate" but when he stepped up to the inaugural podium in January the job description didn't change. Constitution first, everything else is secondary.

There are those who defend Bush and claim that the rules have changed. They submit that only those who would threaten the United States have anything to fear from Bush's ambitious security agenda. It's a logical argument, but such an argument is nothing new. Jefferson was wary of tyrants. He knew that even in a democratic republic such as ours the conditions were favorable for tyranny. All a president had to do was frighten the public and the constitution was his to destroy. Bush has taken the tragic events of 9-11 and used them to undermine basic constitutional principals such as due process in his egomaniacal war on terror.

The public has no access to any records pertaining to the domestic theater of this war on terror. If the Department of Homeland Security deems a person a suspected terrorist all proceedings are conducted in secrecy. The public doesn't have access to any information on warrants issued, arrests made or the judicial progress of any given case. The Department of Homeland Security and Attorney General are at liberty to release only the facts they deem appropriate for public dissemination.

The Bush administration has released information that The Department of Homeland Security has thwarted several terrorist attempts since 9-11, but how can we trust this information? Suspects are arrested, detained and denied counsel. Who knows what methods of interrogation they are subjected to? We are given general descriptions of the thwarted attempts, but the details that would help substantiate the claims are deemed sensitive to ongoing investigations and therefore classified.

The two cases that have been made public involve Nuradin Abdi, a Somali native who is accused of plotting to blow up a Columbus, Ohio mall and Iyman Faris who pleaded guilty to plotting to sabotage the Brooklyn bridge by cutting it down with blow torches.

The facts in these cases may or may not be true, but since both men were detained for unusual periods of time and denied legal counsel. Most of the alleged evidence is sealed so the public has no way to examine the legitimacy of these accusations. Some would say that Faris pleading guilty is all the proof one would need, but if there's no way to verify how these men were treated while being detained, how can we be sure?

It's hard to imagine our own government stooping to depths as low as torture, chemical lobotomizations or threatening a persons' loved ones but then again, why all the secrecy?

There's no doubt that fighting a war is a lot easier when you don't have to play by the rules but that's why we have the Constitution. It's not supposed to be easy. Our leaders are supposed to answer to the general public and we're supposed to be the good guys.

The problem is not what is happening now, but what can happen in the future. We have seen what happens when fear and prejudice are exploited to give the government too much power. Are we on the precipice of a new age of McCarthyism?

Some people assume that only those breaking the law have something to fear, but the problem with corruption is the eventually everybody is at risk. It happened during the Red Scare. People used the accusation of communism for everything from getting even with an ex-lover to putting a rival businessman behind bars. How long before somebody uses the accusation of terror to further their own personal agenda?

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