After 9/11 the neocons who dominate the Republican Party commenced three separate wars: One in Afghanistan, another in Iraq, and the third against the civil liberties of the American people. As Judge Andrew Napolitano writes in his brilliant new book, A Nation of Sheep (p. xi):
[T]he Bush Administration has systematically attacked and diminished virtually every freedom and right guaranteed by the Constitution: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the right not to self incriminate, the right to counsel, the right to speedy trials, the right to fair trials, the right to avoid cruel and unusual punishment, even the right to be set free after acquittal! . . . . President Bush has broken laws he swore to uphold, and declined to enforce laws that he has himself signed into existence . . .
While the Republican Party (with the help of many Democrats) was waging this war on American freedom, its propagandists in the media endlessly repeated the nonsensical notion that the people who attacked America did so because "they hate our freedoms." In reality it is the neoconservatives who hate American freedom, as the above-mentioned "accomplishments" of theirs proves.
In A Nation of Sheep Napolitano gives us chapter and verse of how Americans have been neo-conned into acquiescing in such an attack on their own liberties. The book is the third in a trilogy, following Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks its Own Laws, and The Constitution in Exile. All three are required reading for Ron Paul Revolutionaries — and for anyone who wants to understand the meaning and significance of constitutional liberty in America, who its enemies are, and why they must be stopped.
All neocons play the Orwellian game of making pronouncements about the Constitution, pretending to be supportive of it, while actively supporting its destruction. They are especially fond of cloaking themselves in a few selected words of the founding fathers to give the impression that Washington, Jefferson, and Madison would somehow approve of their foreign policy imperialism. But consider this: At the heart of their phony constitutionalism lies the notion that, before the American Revolution, the founders said something like this to the King of England: "Your Majesty, all we ask is that you provide us with security and protect us from the French, the Spaniards, and any other hostile force. In return, we will gladly give up all of our personal liberties and the rights of Englishmen."
Of course, no such conversation ever took place. But this is exactly the philosophy of the neocon regime that rules America (and much of the rest of the world) today. As Judge Napolitano correctly points out, the slogan of the American Revolutionaries was "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death," not "Give Me Security and I Will Gladly Give UP My Liberty."
To make things even creepier, the administration claims that its war on American liberty has as its purpose the protection of "the Homeland," a phrase that was never used by anyone else to describe America, and which is much more commonly associated with Nazi Germany than any other society.
There is no tradeoff between liberty and security, as Napolitano says. The notion that there is, is "a one-way trip into slavery." The only legitimate purpose of governmental provision of "security" is to secure our liberty, period. And this can only happen if there are enough "wolves" in society, defined as those who "challenge government regulations, reject government assistance, and demand that the government recognize and protect their natural [God-given] rights." Unfortunately, writes Napolitano, "the majority of Americans are sheep" who "stay in the herd and follow their shepherd without questioning where he is leading them."
If we look around the world, we find no precedents for the abolition of liberty leading to more security. It hasn’t worked for Israel in its struggles, nor did it work for England in its battles with the Irish Republican Army, says Napolitano.
In A Nation of Sheep Napolitano presents a long litany of the destruction of liberty that has occurred in just the past few years. The following is a sampling:
- Police departments routinely conduct random bag searches on buses and subways, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
- Government bureaucrats can now write their own search warrants, called "National Security Letters."
- If you want to go to say, Disneyworld, you are required to be fingerprinted, and your prints may end up in the files of the FBI
- Government now has the ability to acquire all financial information about your life, without your permission or knowledge.
- Peaceful protesters have been mass arrested.
- Artists have been arrested for writing such things as "Giuliani = Police State" and "God Bless America" on sidewalks (with erasable chalk).
- Government schools crack down on speech the state does not like, suspending students who utter it.
- Government officials can now search your home or office without notifying you.
- Persons served with "National Security Letters" are prohibited from telling anyone about it.
- Government is tracing email conversations through its "Carnivore" technology.
- The president has been given the authority to essentially declare himself dictator after declaring "a state of emergency" as a result of the "National Continuity Policy."
- The president has been given the ability to station military troops anywhere in America to "restore public order," reversing hundreds of years of constitutional restrictions on the use of the military on American citizens.
- The president believes he is allowed to simply ignore the Geneva Conventions.
- The government now has a "domestic surveillance program" that enables it to spy on Americans’ phone calls, e-mails, and all other electronic communications without a search warrant.
- Government surveillance cameras are everywhere (including 142 of them in the Greenwich Village and Soho neighborhoods of New York City alone).
- "Red light cameras have been placed in thousands of intersections, causing thousands of accidents as motorists speed up to avoid having the camera snap a picture of their license plates should they pass under a red light. If your license is photographed by one of these cameras, you have no right to confront your accuser since the "accuser" is a camera, and, you must prove your innocence and are not presumed innocent until proven guilty.
- Airport "security" has become a Gestapo-like nightmare that does nothing to make traveling any safer.
- The government can deny anyone the right to due process by declaring him an "enemy combatant."
- The Bush administration is guilty of torturing prisoners in violation of U.S. and international law.
- News about the Iraq War has been vigorously censored. All reporters must be "embedded" with the military, which then takes them on Potemkin Village tours.
- Some reporters who have had the courage to report on some of the items on this list have had their phones and emails wiretapped.
- Government scientists can turn on your cell phone remotely and without your knowledge and track your location.
To make matters worse, other countries have begun to copy some of these policies. This is bound to create even more resentment of Americans around the world.
The Great Perverter of the Constitution
A Nation of Sheep also gives the reader an historical perspective on governmental attacks on personal liberties. It started almost at the very beginning of the republic, as the Adams Administration used the Sedition Act to arrest numerous critics of the government. When Thomas Jefferson succeeded Adams he pardoned everyone who had been unjustly imprisoned by the Federalists. But, writes Napolitano, "the progress made by Jefferson receded once President Lincoln took office." He mentions Lincoln’s shutting down of the opposition press in the North, his illegal suspension of habeas corpus, and his censoring of telegraph communication. He also focuses on Lincoln’s deportation of Ohio Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham for speaking up against the Lincoln regime’s abuses of constitutional liberty.
Napolitano quotes the speech that Vallandigham made back home in Dayton, Ohio, on August 2, 1862, that eventually led to his arrest and imprisonment (without due process). "No matter how distasteful constitutions and laws may be, they must be obeyed," said Vallandigham. "I am opposed to all mobs, and opposed also . . . to violations of [the C]onstitution and law[s] by men in authority — public servants. The danger from usurpations and violations by them is fifty-fold greater than from any other quarter, because these violations and usurpations become clothed with [a] false semblance of authority."
Vallandigham "hit the nail on the head here," Napolitano correctly states. Lincoln, who is described by Napolitano as "The Great Perverter of the Constitution," responded with slick and deceiving language to say: "Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, and not touch a hair of the wily agitator who induces him to desert?"
Lincoln’s clever catch phrase led many to accept this particular act of tyranny (deporting Vallandigham), but the truth is, as Napolitano states, the "Constitution which is the sole source of all presidential power, gave him neither the right to u2018shoot a simple-minded soldier boy’ nor the right to impair in any way u2018the wily agitator’ using his First Amendment protected rights," as Vallandigham was doing.
Lincoln’s actions in the Vallandigham affair, writes Napolitano, were "a classic formulation of the argument against freedom, the argument that security and stability come at the expense of the laws and the freedoms that our Constitution was intended to guarantee. Those frightened by war and conflict . . . are, like Lincoln, dead wrong. When all our liberties are gone, there will be nothing left to protect."
In his concluding chapter Napolitano notes that, as of his writing, there were sixteen politicians competing nationally to replace President Bush. Sadly, "With the exception of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), in terms of fidelity to the Constitution, it does not matter which one of them wins. Except for Congressman Paul, they all love power for its own sake, believe that Big Government should redistribute wealth, regard the Constitution as a quaint obstacle, and would enforce or disregard laws as they saw fit . . ."
Judge Andrew Napolitano is an alpha male wolf in a nation of sheep. We can only hope that books such as this one will awaken enough sheep to assist in the defense of liberty before it is too late.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers Press/Random House). His latest book is Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe (Crown Forum/Random House).