FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Who Gave Away Your Civil Liberties?

by Harry Browne

Many conservatives, liberals, and libertarians are protesting the numerous invasions of your liberty that Congress and the Bush administration have imposed during the past two months.

But without realizing it, many of the protestors brought these invasions on themselves.

THIS IS AMERICA?

I do share their concerns, however.

First, Congress rammed through an “anti-terrorism” bill that violates the civil liberties of all Americans, not just terrorists.

The new law allows federal officials to search your home when you’re not present and not even tell you your home has been searched. You could come home one day and find your computer, file cabinets, and legal papers have disappeared. You’d naturally think it was a burglary, but the burglars would be government employees (shades of Watergate).

Warrants can be issued in secret, and you may not be allowed to see a warrant – or contest it – covering a search of your property.

This is America?

Government officials can go into any company anywhere and search records of your purchases and credit history, discover the websites you’ve visited, or monitor your email–without evidence of a crime and without telling you, and they can order the companies not to tell you about the search.

Then the Bush administration, apparently invoking the divine right of kings, decided that people can be tried and executed by secret courts (using secret evidence not available for you to refute), that government agents can eavesdrop on attorney-client conversations, and that federal agents can conduct searches without judicial oversight.

This is America?

And understand that the so-called “War on Terrorism” is only two months old. This is just the beginning. What’s still to come? In previous wars, citizens were imprisoned for speaking out against the government, newspapers were closed for protesting the war, private publications were censored, and people of foreign ancestry were put in concentration camps. We have a lot to look forward to.

DON’T BE DECEIVED

The press implies that the new civil-liberties invasions will apply only to terrorists.

Not true.

They apply to you, because anyone can be suspected of being a terrorist–including you. In fact, the new definition of “suspected terrorist” includes people speaking out against government policies.

And if law-enforcement officials are to decide whose civil liberties will be denied, one of them may become convinced you’re connected to the terrorists in some way, try you in a secret court, sentence you, imprison you, and even execute you–with no opportunity for you to appeal the verdict or your sentence.

This is America?

An administration official told The Washington Post, “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t protect . . . anyone hiding and planning acts of violence.” But what he meant was, “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t protect anyone we suspect of hiding and planning acts of violence.” They don’t know who’s actually guilty until after a civil, public trial–conducted with all the traditional rules of evidence. What they have arrogated to themselves is the power to decide whether or not you will be protected by the Constitution.

This is America?

If you’re not frightened by this, you’re simply not paying attention.

WON’T BE LIMITED TO A FEW PEOPLE

Have you been told that some of these invasions apply only to aliens–or some other small group of people?

Don’t be reassured. When has any invasion of liberty not been expanded to cover all people eventually?

The clearly unconstitutional RICO laws were supposed to apply only to organized crime–but hardly a single Mafia kingpin has been prosecuted using RICO, while abortion protestors and stockbrokers have been jailed by these laws. The clearly unconstitutional asset-forfeiture laws were only to nab big-time drug dealers, but all across America the property of innocent people has been seized.

It’s only a matter of time until every new oppression applies to all Americans.

WHY THIS HAPPENED

I said that many of those protesting these invasions brought this on themselves. How? It’s very simple.

Attorney General John Ashcroft justified the unconstitutional police-state tactics by saying, “I think it’s important to understand that we are at war now.”

And there you have it. As Randolph Bourne said, “War is the health of the state.” Once you grant the government war-making powers, you grant the politicians the power to do anything they want. After all, you can’t put your own personal liberty ahead of the good of the Fatherland, can you?

Congress didn’t declare war. There were none of the usual pre-war negotiations to try to avoid going to war. We’re not even at war with any specific nation. But just utter the magic word “war” and all your rights can be stolen from you.

So if you hollered for war, you hollered to have your rights taken away from you.

Who gave your rights away? You did–if you supported the idea that the politicians should be free to do anything they want to satisfy a national lust for revenge.

Isn’t it time to start taking back your liberty?

Harry Browne ran for president as the Libertarian Party’s candidate in 2000. He is the director of the American Liberty Foundation.

Harry Browne lectures in Dublin Institute of Technology and is the author of The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power). Email:harry.browne@gmail.com, Twitter @harrybrowne

More articles by:
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail