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National Security vs Civil Rights

Updated on February 11, 2011
The Bill of Rights was revolutionary in concept and still is, as it has never been fully respected and is currently in dnager.
The Bill of Rights was revolutionary in concept and still is, as it has never been fully respected and is currently in dnager.

Is national security more important than civil rights?

National security has been sold to us as a result of the attacks on September 11th, 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York. The Patriot Act was rushed in a couple of months after the attack and the Homeland Security Act barely a year later. Civil Rights were enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights when the US was seeking to break free of the tyranny of the British throne. From the rebellion of the Boston Tea Party, to the signing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in 1776 and the interference of the British in the Civil War, the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been hard fought for and won with bloodshed and high cost. Opponents of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights have always sought out ways to defeat this important document that allows various things like the right to bear arms, the freedom of association, freedom from religious persecution, freedom from unlawful search and seizure, freedom from confinement without charge and due process with recourse to legal council, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, habeas corpus, the pursuit of happiness and a host of other rights. This is the hallmark of US freedom that other countries like Canada have sought to emulate in their own ways. These are part of the cherished freedoms that many have come to take too much for granted that even under the constitution, some people are denied. With the advent of the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act, these rights, including habeas corpus have been systematically being destroyed. Now that there is a covert challenge to the basic rights of everyone, is there enough of the spirit of '76' to bring them back?

September 11th, 2001 was the perfect opportunity to instill fear and tighten security due to the potential of foreign invasion. That invasion was seen in the light of the tragic events that unfolded on that day with the collapse of the World Trade Center and the loss of more than 3,000 lives. Much controversy has arisen as a result of that event and not everyone sees it as the result of a terrorist attack so much as a false flag operation that was designed specifically to cause a specific mass response. They point out a large volume of inconsistencies that urge more thorough investigation and explanation. Yet, the idea of a terrorist attack persists in the view of most of the population and this is what is being used to sell security at the expense of liberty. Most people still hold to the idea of a foreign terrorist attack.

Historically the US has always existed in a state of greater or lesser fear of insecurity due to invasion, either by Britain, from the Civil War within, the USSR, Japan, the Nazis and now Muslim extremists. Yet in all of that time, until now, there has been no move to eliminate civil rights protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Not even during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis in Oct. 1961 when the world came within half a minute of Mutual Assured Destruction in a thermonuclear holocaust did this remove civil liberties. Nor were civil liberties removed thereafter or during the assassination of J. F. Kennedy. None of these seminal events was seen as provocation sufficient to end civil rights. In Canada during the Oct. 1970 crisis, an assassination of a Minister of Parliament was enough to cause P. E. Trudeau, then the Prime Minister of Canada, to invoke the War Measures Act that suspended civil rights and liberties during the extent of the crisis. Once it was over, the War Measures Act was struck down and civil rights restored. So why do we have a move to end civil rights at this time in the US?

To the powers that be, civil liberties get in the way of business. Increasingly, the US is being run by a group of oligarchs that manipulate the government behind the scenes. This was demonstrated when trillions were allocated for the bailout of banks and CEOs of large companies while tens of millions lost their homes and jobs and had little or no support. The end of civil liberties is the natural evolution of the destruction of big unions, the social safety net and the dumbing down of the population. It is the natural outgrowth of capitalist manipulations after the destruction of the Soviet Union. For the purposes of directing the economy and the wealth thereof into the pockets of the elite, the less interference there is the better. Thus, off-shore production, destruction of unions, "re-education", fundamentalism, population control and surveillance becomes important to that goal. As the US is one of, if not the most militarily secure nation on the planet, the selling of security at the cost of civil rights is a hard sell, unless something were to occur to provoke mass response and thinking in this direction.

September 11th, 2001, though spectacular in its presence, was nowhere near the fright engendered by October of 1961 at the height of the USSR/US confrontation in Cuba. At that time, the considered possibility of 150 million dead in a thermonuclear exchange were considered acceptable losses, but not the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. At this time, national security was briefly at Defcon 1, the highest level of alert equivalent to full war. When the USSR began to back off, Defcon went to level 2. After the Sept. 11th 2001 attack, Defcon level did not escalate thereafter. Since we have the Defcon protocol, why do we have to sacrifice civil rights because of a handful of terrorists? What is it that a few Muslims can accomplish that the USSR in its nuclear might could not? Now that the US is the only superpower, why do we have to sacrifice civil rights because a terrorist might show up on our shores or operate from the domestic sphere? Why do the innocent have to lose even the right to habeas corpus, passed out of law by George Bush in Sept. 2006 a mere five years after 9/11? Indeed, why should someone be denied habeas corpus without due process; innocent or possibly guilty? There is after all, at least in Canada, a safety clause in the Criminal Code of Canada called “reasonable doubt”. This law protects people by making certain that all evidence is in order and that continuity exists for all of it; otherwise it is to be disregarded. In the US that may also have such a clause of protection in their criminal code. Even with due process, many people have been judged wrongly and were executed only to be found innocent after the fact. This is why we have to tread carefully. Those who bum rush our civil rights into oblivion are serving a sinister purpose and it must be stopped. 1984 has come home to roost. The warnings of Orwell and Kafka need to be heeded.


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    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      God bless right for all people great expert hub I agree thanks