They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
— Benjamin Franklin, c. 1775 [Editor]
American citizens are celebrating in the streets as their government snatched final victory in the War on Terror on 1 Dec. 2011 — through a maneuver that used legislative brilliance rather than bullets.
The moment of victory came when 61 senators passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2012 that allows the indefinite military detention on American soil of American citizens who are merely suspected of having connections to terrorism.
To understand the genius of this legislation, some background is necessary. The Patriot Act, passed before the dust of the collapsed World Trade Center had settled, had already removed the fourth amendment rights of Americans to privacy, allowing federal authorities access to the private affairs of individuals without any court oversight. That act had also removed their rights under the first amendment to free speech, by making it illegal, for example, for one American to tell another that he has been served with a warrant under the Patriot Act — not, of course, a warrant issued by a court, but by a federal officer who can now write his own warrants without any judicial oversight.
What Senators McCain (R, Arizona) and Levin (D, Michigan), and those who voted for the legislation that they sponsored, cleverly realized, however, is that since the terrorists are attacking America for its freedoms and “way of life”, the only sure way to win the war is to eliminate all of those freedoms and way of life so that the terrorists will have no further reason to fight. (This is why the comprehensive laws that already exist in the USA that make the aiding and abetting of any terrorist organization or activity a crime, but leave untouched the inalienable rights of American citizens, simply do not suffice.)
For that reason, on December 1, an amendment to the aforementioned National Defense Authorization Act that would seek to preserve the very last freedom of Americans — to receive due process, including the right to a trial by jury, as required in the Constitution, before being detained by the state — was defeated, ensuring that no American freedom, and therefore no reason for the terrorists to hate America — any longer exists. Now, and thankfully for those who wish to defend the American values of peace and freedom, Americans can be detained by the military without trial or limitation.
The achievement of the U.S. Congress is all the greater in the light of the United States’ own Department of Defense study, headed by Robert Pape of the University of Chicago, that collected and analyzed huge amounts of data on suicide terrorism — which is 12 times more dangerous than other forms of terrorism when measured by the number of people killed per act. In this U.S. government study, speakers of the local languages of the families of suicide bombers were sent to speak with family members of the terrorists to gain as much information as possible about the context and the people involved, and the database thus obtained on suicide terrorism is, as far as we know, the most comprehensive in the world.
The most astonishing conclusion of this work, however, was much more general: 95 percent of all suicide terrorist attacks — going back to the 1980s — are against countries that the terrorist deems to be occupying (in the sense of a military presence) physical territory that that the terrorist regards as a homeland. The reason this is astonishing is that this 95 percent figure includes all those radical Islamic groups who have attacked Israel and the USA, but it explains why the U.S., for example, has only experienced such attacks (such as 9/11 itself), from citizens of countries in which it has a military presence: that’s why, says the DOD study, we were hit by Saudis on 9-11, but not Iranians, Sudanese or representatives of other countries with a large radical Islamist contingent.
Thankfully, though, McCain and Levin — and the majority of the U.S. Congress — know better than to listen to their own military, whose studies are clearly distorted by their desire to understand their enemy so as to minimize the loss of life of soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines. Indeed, aware of the danger that understanding the true nature of the threat to the USA puts the country on the slippery slope to confining its actions to those that would actually counter this threat, and the possibility, therefore, of defeating it, removing the need for this new martial law, the National Defense Authorization Act has been carefully written with absolutely no mechanism of restoring the rights that have been removed when the terrorists put down their arms, as they are bound to do when they realize that their reason to fight has been, as many Americans can now be, “disappeared”.
This “locking in” of the elimination of the Bill of Rights will certainly help Americans sleep better in the knowledge that the war on terror, now won, will not begin again should the USA slip back, in a moment of weakness, to the freedoms that caused the foreign haters to take up arms against the United States in the first place.
There are, however, a few reports of fringe elements in the USA, most of whom seem naively enthralled by outmoded political ideologies such as Constitutionalism, and the “just war doctrine” (an outdated idea, rooted in the Judaic and Christian traditions, that wars are just if they increase the safety of the combatants, have a defined goal and are winnable), who are not joining the victory parades.
In interviews and social media, they have been repeating what appear superficially to be anachronistic pleas, but may in fact be something much more sinister — expressions of terrorist sympathies. Most of them seem to be a version of the idea that if America gives up its Bill of Rights for safety, that not only will the terrorists have won, but that America, itself, handed them the victory.
Indeed, one wrote, “If the government is going to protect my life, it must first leave my life full of the liberties that make it worth protecting.” Although such extremist sentiments could obviously become dangerous were they to take hold more widely, there is little danger of that, as the federal authorities already have their eyes on the dangerous elements who are most likely to share them — including people who manufacture coins out of precious metal, own weather-proofed ammunition, may be missing a finger or two, or — perhaps the most dangerous of all — those who typically have seven days of food in their home.
We should be glad that we no longer have to wait for the smoking gun to come in the form of a terrorist food hoarder’s giant mushroom: the National Defense Authorization Act now permits the feds to lock her up forever on suspicion alone, without all the difficulties that attend a trial.
God Bless America.
Robin Koerner is the publisher of WatchingAmerica.com.