Are you a terrorist? Are you sure?

I guess the hallmark of an old guy is talking about how different things are now from the way I remember.  When I was growing up, I was taught that under American freedom and democracy, everybody had a right to a fair trial and a legal defense.  In Western movies, the heroic sheriff stood between the outlaws in the jail and the lynch mob outside. Everybody had a right to a defense – no matter what they were accused of or who they were.

Fast forward 60 years.  The Obama administration asserts the right to lock up anybody they say is a terrorist and deny them a trial, to assassinate anybody they say is a terrorist, and, in a pending case, to make it a crime to render “material aid” by filing an amicus legal brief or appealing to an international court on behalf of someone they say is a terrorist.

But that’s all right, you say.  The power is only going to be used against scary Muslim foreigners.  It never will be used against people like you and me.

Are you sure?  Think of everybody you know of who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for President. Are you absolutely certain that not one of them would ever use this power against political opponents?

Are you a supporter of the Right to Life movement?  Extremists in this movement have committed murder, arson and other crimes.  No doubt you disapprove.   Are you absolutely sure that no future President would define you and your movement as terroristic? Or the Tea Party movement? Or the Animal Rights movement? Or “cults” or “militias”?

Or are you like me – someone who thinks there is much more danger in trusting an individual with absolute power than in any outside threat?

The Constitution even before there was a Bill of Rights established the right of habeas corpus (the right of an arrested person to be told what law they were accused of breaking) and forbid bills of attainder (criminalizing individuals or groups based on who they are rather than what laws they have broken) and ex post facto laws (criminalizing an action after the fact).  There is a habeas corpus exception for “when in cases of war and rebellion the public safety may require it,” but this was intended for dire emergencies.  There is no reason to wipe this off the blackboard now.

P.S.  I am not of course accusing Right to Lifers, Tea Party members, animal rights supporters, cult members or militia members of being terrorists, nor on the other hand aligning myself with any of these groups. I am speculating about how guilt-by-association might play out under a paranoid government without checks and balances.

P.P.S. I am not a conspiracy theorist like  these guys, whom I consider to be part of the problem, not part of the answer. What bothers me is not what is supposedly being plotted in secret, but what has come to be accepted as normal. What we have to fear is fear itself.

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One Response to “Are you a terrorist? Are you sure?”

  1. logicalmynd Says:

    As you certainly must know, we’re no longer acting on behalf of the Constitution; we have the recent Bush administration to thank for opening the door to dictatorship. Don’t tread too hard on “conspiracy theorists” though. As wild as some of them are, be careful not to discredit people who are really trying to get information to the people who are still asleep. They serve their purpose. It’s the research of information radicals and data miners like them that keep what little republic we have left functioning. Theories are formed from data. Of course, it’s questionable what data is accurate and what isn’t, but we shouldn’t dismiss information just because it proposes something distasteful.

    I’m certain there was a plan to dismantle our republic from within and it’s been in the process for a number of years. I’m sure you’re familiar with the research of the John Birch Society. It’s no secret that banking cartels have been trying to control nations since their existence.

    -Jeremy Edward Dion


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