The defense bill under debate in Congress includes a provision that allows the president to unconstitutionally arrest and/or imprison any American suspected of being a “terrorist.” The “war on terror” has done little in ending worldwide terrorism, but it has done much to deprive Americans of their inalienable rights. History has shown that war erodes liberty, and this erosion has accelerated to a terrifying pace this past decade. And liberty revoked by the state is seldom ever reinstated.
In 1798, preparing for war with France, the federal government enacted laws against immigrants, French sympathizers, and government criticism that blatantly violated the First Amendment. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln routinely imprisoned war dissenters without charges or trial.
In World War I, hundreds were jailed for violating illegal laws suppressing free speech and expression. In World War II, thousands of Japanese-Americans were illegally rounded up and jailed in concentration camps because they posed a “national security threat.”
Sometimes we don’t even need a war for government to suppress liberty. Politicians have compared the Great Depression, the space race, the energy crisis, and even our current economic downturn to a “war” in an effort to justify the expansion of government power at the expense of the people’s liberty. All of these actions set dangerous precedents for future politicians to follow.
It cannot be ignored that the defense bill now under debate in Congress is a blatant disregard for civil liberties. Government must operate within the confines of the Constitution. Only when individuals are empowered to defend their own liberty can the government be the servant, rather than the master, of the people as intended by the founders.