GUARDING FREEDOM - Vigilance Over The Enemy Within

(03/20/2008)

Bob Weaver November 2001

The attack on America, for most of us, continues to consume our daily lives, waiting for shoes to drop. Our government has asked us to be vigilant against our enemies and endless news bites portray the enemy as Osama bin Laden, fanatic religious terrorists and evil doers who hate America. Indeed, they are formidable enemies.

Within the past weeks, the United States government has quickly moved to replace long-standing due process and placing those suspected of crimes against America in a special legal box, no longer trusting our constitutional system of justice. They say it is necessary in these troubled times. It gives the executive branch of government the exclusive right to judge with " reason to believe" when a person is an enemy of the state.

President George Bush, with the support of Congress, is saying during this extraordinary emergency, it is not practicable under the order or principles of law (to apply) the rules of evidence generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the United State's district courts, almost a direct quote. This declaration essentially says our justice system, under which the rest of us abide, is incapable of dealing with these culprits.

Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, said "We have looked at this war very unconventionally and the conventional way of bringing people to justice doesn't apply to these times." While there may be some comfort in these words, does this not sound like every totalitarian police state you have ever heard about?

Troubling too is an executive order signed by President Bush on November 1 which gives himself the power to prevent historians or anyone else to ever open or inspect the actions that are now being taken by the US government. So, during these "extraordinary times" we will no longer be privy in our open and free society to know what really went on. Does that bother you a little, or do you have other concerns over your treasured personal privacy?

Are any of you concerned that government is quickly, very quickly, doling out billions of dollars to national corporations because they are in a financial slump? While there is focus on helping the airline industry, there are requests for at least $25 billion in pay backs or tax breaks, like IBM would get $1.4 billion. Fourteen corporations would get $6.3 billion. Now, the insurance companies are asking for a chunk of taxpayer cash because of too many pay outs. Airport security, according to a report over the weekend, may not be completely functional for two years.

Americans are "go get'em" kinds of people, and most of them believe, as I do, extreme actions are necessary in fighting terrorism. Could it be, when the smoke and noise settles, our freedom loving democracy will be diminished and we will become all that we find intolerable. It will be at that moment, our enemies have really won.

Yes, we need to be vigilant toward our enemies, but we need also be vigilant toward government, and remember what America is about. It is in asking these burning questions and guarding constitutional rights and the balances-of-power, we maintain our treasured democracy.


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