Your Eye on the Target
Congressman Ron Paul, MD
have been told on numerous occasions to expect a long and protracted
war. This is not necessary if one can identify the target
the enemy and then stay focused on that target. It's impossible
to keep one's eye on a target and hit it if one does not precisely
understand it and identify it. In pursuing any military undertaking,
it's the responsibility of Congress to know exactly why it appropriates
the funding. Today, unlike any time in our history, the enemy and
its location remain vague and pervasive. In the undeclared wars
of Vietnam and Korea, the enemy was known and clearly defined, even
though our policies were confused and contradictory. Today our policies
relating to the growth of terrorism are also confused and contradictory;
however, the precise enemy and its location are not known by anyone.
Until the enemy is defined and understood, it cannot be accurately
targeted or vanquished.
terrorist enemy is no more an entity than the "mob" or
some international criminal gang. It certainly is not a country,
nor is it the Afghan people. The Taliban is obviously a strong sympathizer
with bin Laden and his henchmen, but how much more so than the government
of Saudi Arabia or even Pakistan? Probably not much.
motives have always played a part in the foreign policy of almost
every nation throughout history. Economic gain and geographic expansion,
or even just the desires for more political power, too often drive
the militarism of all nations. Unfortunately, in recent years, we
have not been exempt. If expansionism, economic interests, desire
for hegemony, and influential allies affect our policies and they,
in turn, incite mob attacks against us, they obviously cannot be
ignored. The target will be illusive and ever enlarging, rather
do know a lot about the terrorists who spilled the blood of nearly
4,000 innocent civilians. There were 19 of them, 15 from Saudi Arabia,
and they have paid a high price. They're all dead. So those most
responsible for the attack have been permanently taken care of.
If one encounters a single suicide bomber who takes his own life
along with others without the help of anyone else, no further punishment
is possible. The only question that can be raised under that circumstance
is why did it happen and how can we change the conditions that drove
an individual to perform such a heinous act.
terrorist attacks on New York and Washington are not quite so simple,
but they are similar. These attacks required funding, planning and
inspiration from others. But the total number of people directly
involved had to be relatively small in order to have kept the plans
thoroughly concealed. Twenty accomplices, or even a hundred could
have done it. But there's no way thousands of people knew and participated
in the planning and carrying out of this attack. Moral support expressed
by those who find our policies offensive is a different matter and
difficult to discover. Those who enjoyed seeing the U.S. hit are
too numerous to count and impossible to identify. To target and
wage war against all of them is like declaring war against an idea
predominant nationality of the terrorists was Saudi Arabian. Yet
for political and economic reasons, even with the lack of cooperation
from the Saudi government, we have ignored that country in placing
blame. The Afghan people did nothing to deserve another war. The
Taliban, of course, is closely tied to bin Laden and al-Qaeda, but
so are the Pakistanis and the Saudis. Even the United States was
a supporter of the Taliban's rise to power, and as recently as August
of 2001, we talked oil pipeline politics with them.
recent French publication of bin Laden, The Forbidden Truth revealed
our most recent effort to secure control over Caspian Sea oil in
collaboration with the Taliban. According to the two authors, the
economic conditions demanded by the U.S. were turned down and led
to U.S. military threats against the Taliban.
has been known for years that Unocal, a U.S. company, has been anxious
to build a pipeline through northern Afghanistan, but it has not
been possible due to the weak Afghan central government. We should
not be surprised now that many contend that the plan for the UN
to "nation build" in Afghanistan is a logical and important
consequence of this desire. The crisis has merely given those interested
in this project an excuse to replace the government of Afghanistan.
Since we don't even know if bin Laden is in Afghanistan, and since
other countries are equally supportive of him, our concentration
on this Taliban "target" remains suspect by many.
FBI Deputy Director John O'Neill resigned in July over duplicitous
dealings with the Taliban and our oil interests. O'Neill then took
a job as head of the World Trade Center security and ironically
was killed in the 9-11 attack. The charges made by these authors
in their recent publication deserve close scrutiny and congressional
oversight investigation and not just for the historical record.
understand world sentiment on this subject, one might note a comment
in The Hindu, India's national newspaper not necessarily
to agree with the paper's sentiment, but to help us better understand
what is being thought about us around the world in contrast to the
spin put on the war by our five major TV news networks.
quote comes from an article written by Sitaram Yechury on October
today is being asked to side with the U.S. in a fight against
global terrorism. This is only a cover. The world is being asked
today, in reality, to side with the U.S. as it seeks to strengthen
its economic hegemony. This is neither acceptable nor will it
be allowed. We must forge together to state that we are neither
with the terrorists nor with the United States.
need to define our target is ever so necessary if we're going to
avoid letting this war get out of control.
important to note that in the same article, the author quoted Michael
Klare, an expert on Caspian Sea oil reserves, from an interview
on Radio Free Europe: "We (the U.S.) view oil as a security
consideration and we have to protect it by any means necessary,
regardless of other considerations, other values." This, of
course, was a clearly stated position of our administration in 1990
as our country was being prepared to fight the Persian Gulf War.
Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction only became the
issue later on.
various reasons, the enemy with whom we're now at war remains vague
and illusive. Those who commit violent terrorist acts should be
targeted with a rifle or hemlock not with vague declarations,
with some claiming we must root out terrorism in as many as 60 countries.
If we're not precise in identifying our enemy, it's sure going to
be hard to keep our eye on the target. Without this identification,
the war will spread and be needlessly prolonged.
is this definition so crucial? Because without it, the special interests
and the ill-advised will clamor for all kinds of expansive militarism.
Planning to expand and fight a never-ending war in 60 countries
against worldwide terrorist conflicts with the notion that, at most,
only a few hundred ever knew of the plans to attack the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon. The pervasive and indefinable enemy
terrorism cannot be conquered with weapons and UN nation
building only a more sensible pro-American foreign policy
will accomplish this. This must occur if we are to avoid a cataclysmic
expansion of the current hostilities.
was said that our efforts were to be directed toward the terrorists
responsible for the attacks, and overthrowing and instituting new
governments were not to be part of the agenda. Already we have clearly
taken our eyes off that target and diverted it toward building a
pro-Western, UN-sanctioned government in Afghanistan. But if bin
Laden can hit us in New York and DC, what should one expect to happen
once the US/UN establishes a new government in Afghanistan with
occupying troops. It seems that would be an easy target for the
likes of al Qaeda.
we don't know in which cave or even in which country bin Laden is
hiding, we hear the clamor of many for us to overthrow our next
villain Saddam Hussein guilty or not. On the short
list of countries to be attacked are North Korea, Libya, Syria,
Iran, and the Sudan, just for starters. But this jingoistic talk
is foolhardy and dangerous. The war against terrorism cannot be
won in this manner.
drumbeat for attacking Baghdad grows louder every day, with Paul
Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, Richard Perle, and Bill Bennett leading
the charge. In a recent interview, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz, made it clear: "We are going to continue pursuing
the entire al Qaeda network which is in 60 countries, not just Afghanistan."
Fortunately, President Bush and Colin Powell so far have resisted
the pressure to expand the war into other countries. Let us hope
and pray that they do not yield to the clamor of the special interests
that want us to take on Iraq.
argument that we need to do so because Hussein is producing weapons
of mass destruction is the reddest of all herrings. I sincerely
doubt that he has developed significant weapons of mass destruction.
However, if that is the argument, we should plan to attack all those
countries that have similar weapons or plans to build them
countries like China, North Korea, Israel, Pakistan, and India.
Iraq has been uncooperative with the UN World Order and remains
independent of western control of its oil reserves, unlike Saudi
Arabia and Kuwait. This is why she has been bombed steadily for
11 years by the U.S. and Britain. My guess is that in the not-too-distant
future, so-called proof will be provided that Saddam Hussein was
somehow partially responsible for the attack in the United States,
and it will be irresistible then for the U.S. to retaliate against
him. This will greatly and dangerously expand the war and provoke
even greater hatred toward the United States, and it's all so unnecessary.
just so hard for many Americans to understand how we inadvertently
provoke the Arab/Muslim people, and I'm not talking about the likes
of bin Laden and his al Qaeda gang. I'm talking about the Arab/Muslim
1996, after five years of sanctions against Iraq and persistent
bombings, CBS reporter Lesley Stahl asked our Ambassador to the
United Nations, Madeline Albright, a simple question: "We have
heard that a half million children have died (as a consequence of
our policy against Iraq). Is the price worth it?" Albright's
response was "We think the price is worth it." Although
this interview won an Emmy award, it was rarely shown in the U.S.
but widely circulated in the Middle East. Some still wonder why
America is despised in this region of the world!
President George W. Bush has been criticized for not marching on
to Baghdad at the end of the Persian Gulf War. He gave then, and
stands by his explanation today, a superb answer of why it was ill-advised
to attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power there were
strategic and tactical, as well as humanitarian, arguments against
it. But the important and clinching argument against annihilating
Baghdad was political. The coalition, in no uncertain terms, let
it be known they wanted no part of it. Besides, the UN only authorized
the removal of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. The UN has never sanctioned
the continued U.S. and British bombing of Iraq a source of
much hatred directed toward the United States.
placing of U.S. troops on what is seen as Muslim holy land in Saudi
Arabia seems to have done exactly what the former President was
trying to avoid the breakup of the coalition. The coalition
has hung together by a thread, but internal dissention among the
secular and religious Arab/Muslim nations within individual countries
has intensified. Even today, the current crisis threatens the overthrow
of every puppet pro-western Arab leader from Egypt to Saudi Arabia
of the same advisors from the first Bush presidency are now urging
the current President to finish off Hussein. However, every reason
given 11 years ago for not leveling Baghdad still holds true today
if not more so.
has been argued that we needed to maintain a presence in Saudi Arabia
after the Persian Gulf War to protect the Saudi government from
Iraqi attack. Others argued that it was only a cynical excuse to
justify keeping troops to protect what our officials declared were
"our" oil supplies. Some have even suggested that our
expanded presence in Saudi Arabia was prompted by a need to keep
King Fahd in power and to thwart any effort by Saudi fundamentalists
to overthrow his regime.
the war by taking on Iraq at this time may well please some allies,
but it will lead to unbelievable chaos in the region and throughout
the world. It will incite even more anti-American sentiment and
expose us to even greater dangers. It could prove to be an unmitigated
disaster. Iran and Russia will not be pleased with this move.
is not our job to remove Saddam Hussein that is the job of
the Iraqi people. It is not our job to remove the Taliban
that is the business of the Afghan people. It is not our job to
insist that the next government in Afghanistan include women, no
matter how good an idea it is. If this really is an issue, why don't
we insist that our friends in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait do the same
thing, as well as impose our will on them? Talk about hypocrisy!
The mere thought that we fight wars for affirmative action in a
country 6,000 miles from home, with no cultural similarities, should
insult us all. Of course it does distract us from the issue of an
oil pipeline through northern Afghanistan. We need to keep our eye
on the target and not be so easily distracted.
for a minute that bin Laden is not in Afghanistan. Would any of
our military efforts in that region be justified? Since none of
it would be related to American security, it would be difficult
for a minute that bin Laden is as ill as I believe he is with serious
renal disease, would he not do everything conceivable for his cause
by provoking us into expanding the war and alienating as many Muslims
to bin Laden, martyrdom is a noble calling, and he just may be more
powerful in death than he is in life. An American invasion of Iraq
would please bin Laden, because it would rally his troops against
any moderate Arab leader who appears to be supporting the United
States. It would prove his point that America is up to no good,
that oil and Arab infidels are the source of all the Muslims' problems.
have recently been reminded of Admiral Yamamoto's quote after the
bombing of Pearl Harbor in expressing his fear that the event "Awakened
a sleeping giant." Most everyone agrees with the prophetic
wisdom of that comment. But I question the accuracy of drawing an
analogy between the Pearl Harbor event and the World Trade Center
attack. We are hardly the same nation we were in 1941. Today, we're
anything but a sleeping giant. There's no contest for our status
as the world's only economic, political and military super power.
A "sleeping giant" would not have troops in 141 countries
throughout the world and be engaged in every conceivable conflict
with 250,000 troops stationed abroad.
fear I have is that our policies, along with those of Britain, the
UN, and NATO since World War II, inspired and have now awakened
a long-forgotten sleeping giant Islamic fundamentalism.
hope for all our sakes that Iraq is not made the target in this
President, in the 2000 presidential campaign, argued against nation
building, and he was right to do so. He also said, "If we're
an arrogant nation, they'll resent us." He wisely argued for
humility and a policy that promotes peace. Attacking Baghdad or
declaring war against Saddam Hussein, or even continuing the illegal
bombing of Iraq, is hardly a policy of humility designed to promote
we continue our bombing of Afghanistan, plans are made to install
a new government sympathetic to the West and under UN control. The
persuasive argument as always is money. We were able to gain Pakistan's
support, although it continually wavers, in this manner. Appropriations
are already being prepared in the Congress to rebuild all that we
destroy in Afghanistan, and then some even before the bombing
plan, as reported in Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper, lays out the plan
for the next Iraqi government. Turkey's support is crucial, so the
plan is to give Turkey oil from the northern Iraq Karkuk field.
The United States has also promised a pipeline running from Iraq
through Turkey. How can the Turks resist such a generous offer?
Since we subsidize Turkey and they bomb the Kurds, while we punish
the Iraqis for the same, this plan to divvy up wealth in the land
of the Kurds is hardly a surprise.
seems that Washington never learns. Our foolish foreign interventions
continually get us into more trouble than we have bargained for
and the spending is endless. I am not optimistic that this
Congress will anytime soon come to its senses. I am afraid that
we will never treat the taxpayers with respect. National bankruptcy
is a more likely scenario than Congress adopting a frugal and wise
must make every effort to precisely define our target in this war
and keep our eye on it.
is safe to assume that the number of people directly involved in
the 9-11 attacks is closer to several hundred than the millions
we are now talking about targeting with our planned shotgun approach
commentator pointed out that when the mafia commits violence, no
one suggests we bomb Sicily. Today it seems we are, in a symbolic
way, not only bombing "Sicily," but are thinking about
bombing "Athens" (Iraq).
a corrupt city or state government does business with a drug cartel
or organized crime and violence results, we don't bomb city hall
or the state capital we limit the targets to those directly
guilty and punish them. Could we not learn a lesson from these examples?
is difficult for everyone to put the 9-11 attacks in a proper perspective,
because any attempt to do so is construed as diminishing the utter
horror of the events of that day. We must remember, though, that
the 3,900 deaths incurred in the World Trade Center attacks are
just slightly more than the deaths that occur on our nation's highways
each month. Could it be that the sense of personal vulnerability
we survivors feel motivates us in meting out justice, rather than
the concern for the victims of the attacks? Otherwise, the numbers
don't add up to the proper response. If we lose sight of the target
and unwisely broaden the war, the tragedy of 9-11 may pale in the
death and destruction that could lie ahead.
members of Congress, we have a profound responsibility to mete out
justice, provide security for our nation, and protect the liberties
of all the people, without senselessly expanding the war at the
urging of narrow political and economic special interests. The price
is too high, and the danger too great. We must not lose our focus
on the real target and inadvertently create new enemies for ourselves.
have not done any better keeping our eye on the terrorist target
on the home front than we have overseas. Not only has Congress come
up short in picking the right target, it has directed all its energies
in the wrong direction. The target of our efforts has sadly been
the liberties all Americans enjoy. With all the new power we have
given to the administration, none has truly improved the chances
of catching the terrorists who were responsible for the 9-11 attacks.
All Americans will soon feel the consequences of this new legislation.
as the crisis provided an opportunity for some to promote a special-interest
agenda in our foreign policy efforts, many have seen the crisis
as a chance to achieve changes in our domestic laws, changes which,
up until now, were seen as dangerous and unfair to American citizens.
bailouts is not new for Congress, but current conditions have prompted
many takers to line up for handouts. There has always been a large
constituency for expanding federal power for whatever reason, and
these groups have been energized. The military-industrial complex
is out in full force and is optimistic. Union power is pleased with
recent events and has not missed the opportunity to increase membership
rolls. Federal policing powers, already in a bull market, received
a super shot in the arm. The IRS, which detests financial privacy,
gloats, while all the big spenders in Washington applaud the tools
made available to crack down on tax dodgers. The drug warriors and
anti-gun zealots love the new powers that now can be used to watch
the every move of our citizens. "Extremists" who talk
of the Constitution, promote right-to-life, form citizen militias,
or participate in non-mainstream religious practices now can be
monitored much more effectively by those who find their views offensive.
Laws recently passed by the Congress apply to all Americans
not just terrorists. But we should remember that if the terrorists
are known and identified, existing laws would have been quite adequate
to deal with them.
before the passage of the recent draconian legislation, hundreds
had already been arrested under suspicion, and millions of dollars
of al Qaeda funds had been frozen. None of these new laws will deal
with uncooperative foreign entities like the Saudi government, which
chose not to relinquish evidence pertaining to exactly who financed
the terrorists' operations. Unfortunately, the laws will affect
all innocent Americans, yet will do nothing to thwart terrorism.
laws recently passed in Congress in response to the terrorist attacks
can be compared to the effort by anti-gun fanatics, who jump at
every chance to undermine the Second Amendment. When crimes are
committed with the use of guns, it's argued that we must remove
guns from society, or at least register them and make it difficult
to buy them. The counter argument made by Second Amendment supporters
correctly explains that this would only undermine the freedom of
law-abiding citizens and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands
of criminals or to reduce crime.
we hear a similar argument that a certain amount of privacy and
personal liberty of law-abiding citizens must be sacrificed in order
to root out possible terrorists. This will result only in liberties
being lost, and will not serve to preempt any terrorist act. The
criminals, just as they know how to get guns even when they are
illegal, will still be able to circumvent anti-terrorist laws. To
believe otherwise is to endorse a Faustian bargain, but that is
what I believe the Congress has done.
know from the ongoing drug war that federal drug police frequently
make mistakes, break down the wrong doors and destroy property.
Abuses of seizure and forfeiture laws are numerous. Yet the new
laws will encourage even more mistakes by federal law-enforcement
agencies. It has long been forgotten that law enforcement in the
United States was supposed to be a state and local government responsibility,
not that of the federal government. The federal government's policing
powers have just gotten a giant boost in scope and authority through
both new legislation and executive orders.
the 9-11 attack, Attorney General Ashcroft let his position be known
regarding privacy and government secrecy. Executive Order 13223
made it much more difficult for researchers to gain access to presidential
documents from previous administrations, now a "need to know"
has to be demonstrated. This was a direct hit at efforts to demand
openness in government, even if only for analysis and writing of
history. Ashcroft's position is that presidential records ought
to remain secret, even after an administration has left office.
He argues that government deserves privacy while ignoring the 4th
Amendment protections of the people's privacy. He argues his case
by absurdly claiming he must "protect"the privacy of the
individuals who might be involved a non-problem that could
easily be resolved without closing public records to the public.
is estimated that approximately 1,200 men have been arrested as
a consequence of 9-11, yet their names and the charges are not available,
and according to Ashcroft, will not be made available. Once again,
he uses the argument that he's protecting the privacy of those charged.
Unbelievable! Due process for the detainees has been denied. Secret
government is winning out over open government. This is the largest
number of people to be locked up under these conditions since FDR's
internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Information
regarding these arrests is a must, in a constitutional republic.
If they're terrorists or accomplices, just let the public know and
pursue their prosecution. But secret arrests and silence are not
acceptable in a society that professes to be free. Curtailing freedom
is not the answer to protecting freedom under adverse circumstances.
administration has severely curtailed briefings regarding the military
operation in Afghanistan for congressional leaders, ignoring a long-time
tradition in this country. One person or one branch of government
should never control military operations. Our system of government
has always required a shared-power arrangement.
Anti-Terrorism Bill did little to restrain the growth of big government.
In the name of patriotism, the Congress did some very unpatriotic
things. Instead of concentrating on the persons or groups that committed
the attacks on 9-11, our efforts, unfortunately, have undermined
the liberties of all Americans.
Your Customer" type banking regulations, resisted by most Americans
for years, have now been put in place in an expanded fashion. Not
only will the regulations affect banks, thrifts and credit unions,
but also all businesses will be required to file suspicious transaction
reports if cash is used with the total of the transaction reaching
$10,000. Retail stores will be required to spy on all their customers
and send reports to the U.S. government. Financial services consultants
are convinced that this new regulation will affect literally millions
of law-abiding American citizens. The odds that this additional
paperwork will catch a terrorist are remote. The sad part is that
the regulations have been sought after by federal law-enforcement
agencies for years. The 9-11 attacks have served as an opportunity
to get them by the Congress and the American people.
now are the American people hearing about the onerous portions of
the anti-terrorism legislation, and they are not pleased.
easy for elected officials in Washington to tell the American people
that the government will do whatever it takes to defeat terrorism.
Such assurances inevitably are followed by proposals either to restrict
the constitutional liberties of the American people or to spend
vast sums of money from the federal treasury. The history of the
20th Century shows that the Congress violates our Constitution most
often during times of crisis. Accordingly, most of our worst unconstitutional
agencies and programs began during the two World Wars and the Depression.
Ironically, the Constitution itself was conceived in a time of great
crisis. The founders intended its provision to place severe restrictions
on the federal government, even in times of great distress. America
must guard against current calls for government to sacrifice the
Constitution in the name of law enforcement.
legislation recently passed by Congress demonstrates how well-meaning
politicians make shortsighted mistakes in a rush to respond to a
crisis. Most of its provisions were never carefully studied by Congress,
nor was sufficient time taken to debate the bill despite its importance.
No testimony was heard from privacy experts or from others fields
outside of law enforcement. Normal congressional committee and hearing
processes were suspended. In fact, the final version of the bill
was not even made available to Members before the vote! The American
public should not tolerate these political games, especially when
our precious freedoms are at stake.
all of the new laws focus on American citizens rather than potential
foreign terrorists. For example, the definition of "terrorism,"
for federal criminal purposes, has been greatly expanded A person
could now be considered a terrorist by belonging to a pro-constitution
group, a citizen militia, or a pro-life organization. Legitimate
protests against the government could place tens of thousands of
other Americans under federal surveillance. Similarly, internet
use can be monitored without a user's knowledge, and internet providers
can be forced to hand over user information to law-enforcement officials
without a warrant or subpoena.
bill also greatly expands the use of traditional surveillance tools,
including wiretaps, search warrants, and subpoenas. Probable-cause
standards for these tools are relaxed, or even eliminated in some
circumstances. Warrants become easier to obtain and can be executed
without notification. Wiretaps can be placed without a court order.
In fact, the FBI and CIA now can tap phones or computers nationwide,
without demonstrating that a criminal suspect is using a particular
phone or computer.
biggest problem with these new law-enforcement powers is that they
bear little relationship to fighting terrorism. Surveillance powers
are greatly expanded, while checks and balances on government are
greatly reduced. Most of the provisions have been sought by domestic
law-enforcement agencies for years, not to fight terrorism, but
rather to increase their police power over the American people.
There is no evidence that our previously held civil liberties posed
a barrier to the effective tracking or prosecution of terrorists.
The federal government has made no showing that it failed to detect
or prevent the recent terrorist strikes because of the civil liberties
that will be compromised by this new legislation.
his speech to the joint session of Congress following the September
11th attacks, President Bush reminded all of us that the United
States outlasted and defeated Soviet totalitarianism in the last
century. The numerous internal problems in the former Soviet Union
its centralized economic planning and lack of free markets,
its repression of human liberty and its excessive militarization
all led to its inevitable collapse. We must be vigilant to
resist the rush toward ever-increasing state control of our society,
so that our own government does not become a greater threat to our
freedoms than any foreign terrorist.
executive order that has gotten the most attention by those who
are concerned that our response to 9-11 is overreaching and dangerous
to our liberties is the one authorizing military justice, in secret.
Nazi war criminals were tried in public, but plans now are laid
to carry out the trials and punishment, including possibly the death
penalty, outside the eyes and ears of the legislative and judicial
branches of government and the American public. Since such a process
threatens national security and the Constitution, it cannot be used
as a justification for their protection.
have claimed this military tribunal has been in the planning stages
for five years. If so, what would have been its justification?
argument that FDR did it and therefore it must be OK is a rather
weak justification. Roosevelt was hardly one that went by the rule
book the Constitution. But the situation then was quite different
from today. There was a declared war by Congress against a precise
enemy, the Germans, who sent eight saboteurs into our country. Convictions
were unanimous, not 2/3 of the panel, and appeals were permitted.
That's not what's being offered today. Furthermore, the previous
military tribunals expired when the war ended. Since this war will
go on indefinitely, so too will the courts.
real outrage is that such a usurpation of power can be accomplished
with the stroke of a pen. It may be that we have come to that stage
in our history when an executive order is "the law of the land,"
but it's not "kinda cool," as one member of the previous
administration bragged. It's a process that is unacceptable, even
in this professed time of crisis.
are well-documented histories of secret military tribunals. Up until
now, the United States has consistently condemned them. The fact
that a two-thirds majority can sentence a person to death in secrecy
in the United States is scary. With no appeals available, and no
defense attorneys of choice being permitted, fairness should compel
us to reject such a system outright.
who favor these trials claim they are necessary to halt terrorism
in its tracks. We are told that only terrorists will be brought
before these tribunals. This means that the so-called suspects must
be tried and convicted before they are assigned to this type of
"trial" without due process. They will be deemed guilty
by hearsay, in contrast to the traditional American system of justice
where all are innocent until proven guilty. This turns the justice
system on its head.
cannot be reassured by believing these courts will only apply to
foreigners who are terrorists. Sloppiness in convicting criminals
is a slippery slope. We should not forget that the Davidians at
Waco were "convicted" and demonized and slaughtered outside
our judicial system, and they were, for the most part, American
citizens. Randy Weaver's family fared no better.
has been said that the best way for us to spread our message of
freedom, justice and prosperity throughout the world is through
example and persuasion, not through force of arms. We have drifted
a long way from that concept. Military courts will be another bad
example for the world. We were outraged in 1996 when Lori Berenson,
an American citizen, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life
by a Peruvian military court. Instead of setting an example, now
we are following the lead of a Peruvian dictator.
ongoing debate regarding the use of torture in rounding up the criminals
involved in the 9-11 attacks is too casual. This can hardly represent
progress in the cause of liberty and justice. Once government becomes
more secretive, it is more likely this tool will be abused. Hopefully
the Congress will not endorse or turn a blind eye to this barbaric
proposal. For every proposal made to circumvent the justice system,
it's intended that we visualize that these infractions of the law
and the Constitution will apply only to terrorists and never involve
innocent U.S. citizens. This is impossible, because someone has
to determine exactly who to bring before the tribunal, and that
involves all of us. That is too much arbitrary power for anyone
to be given in a representative government and is more characteristic
of a totalitarian government.
throughout the world, especially those in Muslim countries, will
be convinced by the secretive process that the real reason for military
courts is that the U.S. lacks sufficient evidence to convict in
an open court. Should we be fighting so strenuously the war against
terrorism and carelessly sacrifice our traditions of American justice?
If we do, the war will be for naught and we will lose, even if we
has a profound responsibility in all of this and should never concede
this power to a President or an Attorney General. Congressional
oversight powers must be used to their fullest to curtail this unconstitutional
assumption of power.
planned use of military personnel to patrol our streets and airports
is another challenge of great importance that should not go uncontested.
For years, many in Washington have advocated a national approach
to all policing activity. This current crisis has given them a tremendous
boost. Believe me, this is no panacea and is a dangerous move. The
Constitution never intended that the federal government assume this
power. This concept was codified in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
This act prohibits the military from carrying out law-enforcement
duties such as searching or arresting people in the United States,
the argument being that the military is only used for this type
of purpose in a police state. Interestingly, it was the violation
of these principles that prompted the Texas Revolution against Mexico.
The military under the Mexican Constitution at that time was prohibited
from enforcing civil laws, and when Santa Anna ignored this prohibition,
the revolution broke out. We should not so readily concede the principle
that has been fought for on more than one occasion in this country.
threats to liberty seem endless. It seems we have forgotten to target
the enemy. Instead we have inadvertently targeted the rights of
American citizens. The crisis has offered a good opportunity for
those who have argued all along for bigger government.
instance, the military draft is the ultimate insult to those who
love personal liberty. The Pentagon, even with the ongoing crisis,
has argued against the reinstatement of the draft. Yet the clamor
for its reinstatement grows louder daily by those who wanted a return
to the draft all along. I see the draft as the ultimate abuse of
liberty. Morally it cannot be distinguished from slavery. All the
arguments for drafting 18-year old men and women and sending them
off to foreign wars are couched in terms of noble service to the
country and benefits to the draftees. The need-for-discipline argument
is the most common reason given, after the call for service in an
effort to make the world safe for democracy. There can be no worse
substitute for the lack of parental guidance of teenagers than the
federal government's domineering control, forcing them to fight
an enemy they don't even know in a country they can't even identity.
it's argued that since the federal government has taken over the
entire job of homeland security, all kinds of jobs can be found
for the draftees to serve the state, even for those who are conscientious
proponents of the draft call it "mandatory service." Slavery,
too, was mandatory, but few believed it was a service. They claim
that every 18-year old owes at least two years of his life to his
country. Let's hope the American people don't fall for this "need
to serve" argument. The Congress should refuse to even consider
such a proposal. Better yet, what we need to do is abolish the Selective
if we get to the point of returning to the draft, I have a proposal.
Every news commentator, every Hollywood star, every newspaper editorialist,
and every Member of Congress under the age of 65 who has never served
in the military and who demands that the draft be reinstated, should
be drafted first the 18-year olds last. Since the Pentagon
says they don't need draftees, these new recruits can be the first
to march to the orders of the general in charge of homeland security.
For those less robust individuals, they can do the hospital and
cooking chores for the rest of the newly formed domestic army. After
all, someone middle aged owes a lot more to his country than an
certain that this provision would mute the loud demands for the
return of the military draft.
see good reason for American citizens to be concerned not
only about another terrorist attack, but for their own personal
freedoms as the Congress deals with the crisis. Personal freedom
is the element of the human condition that has made America great
and unique and something we all cherish. Even those who are more
willing to sacrifice a little freedom for security do it with the
firm conviction that they are acting in the best interest of freedom
and justice. However, good intentions can never suffice for sound
judgment in the defense of liberty.
do not challenge the dedication and sincerity of those who disagree
with the freedom philosophy and confidently promote government solutions
for all our ills. I am just absolutely convinced that the best formula
for giving us peace and preserving the American way of life is freedom,
limited government, and minding our own business overseas.
Grady Weaver, author of a classic book on freedom, The Mainspring
of Human Progress, years ago warned us that good intentions in politics
are not good enough and actually are dangerous to the cause. Weaver
of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning
people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as
applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal
to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula
of their own. The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters,
and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted
upon human beings by the professional do-gooders, who attempt to
set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force
their views on all others with the abiding assurance that
the end justifies the means."
message is one we should all ponder.
Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.
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