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:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail