A Fear-Based Constitution

Al-Qaeda carries off a new series of attacks in New York City. First there is the bombing of a NYC MTA Transit Bus killing all hostages and a terrorist. The FBI determines that there is a cell of 5 involved. Next is a subway bombing. The 3rd is a Broadway bombing killing everyone in the packed theater.

Intelligence develops that it is a cell out of Yemen. The FBI is unable to locate it and seems powerless to stop the next attack.

The last explosion is the FBI building itself killing hundreds. Panic grips the nation. Pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, and executive authority to use military domestically in emergency situations, President Obama acts. He declares a state of national emergency. The National Guard and regular military are called in. The next morning, tanks are rolling down Broadway and across the Brooklyn Bridge. In response to outcry from the ACLU and human rights groups, President Obama releases the following statement:

We are in a time of national emergency. Extraordinary measures are needed to ensure the security of our nation and prevent further loss of life. Furthermore,domestic use of the military against Al-Qaeda is legal because it serves a national security, rather than a law enforcement, purpose. I have constitutional and statutory authority to deploy the military against international or foreign terrorists operating within the United States”

Military intelligence further determines that they are looking for 4 Muslim males between 18-30 living somewhere in Brooklyn. Nothing more is known.

The military begins house to house rounding up all Muslims fitting that profile and putting them in the new Yankee Stadium for interrogation. The U.S. borders are closed to anyone flying in from selected “Muslim Countries”.

In “ripple in the water panic reaction” localities such as Deaborn Michigan with large Muslim populations begin rounding up all Muslims and placing them in their own detention facilities for interrogation and questioning.

Constitutional? Outrageous? Reasonable given the fact scenario?

When we are afraid it becomes all so disturbingly easy for us to dismiss out of hand the blood, sweat and tears that were put into the Constitutional rights we have today . Our rights when we are at peace and feel safe. Our rights when we are at war and/or a large portion of us are living in fear. Should it make a difference? It certainly has made a difference in our past. Who can forget The Sedition Acts of 1798 and 1918, The McCarthy Hearings or Korematsu v. United States where Justice Black writing for the majority stated that:

Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire”

While it has been frowned on publicly in every sense, it should be noted that Korematsu has never been overruled. Are we at war now? Certainly not in the traditional Congressional declared sense. If we are, how easy would it be to substitute names and nationality in Justice Black’s statement. There is no doubt that we have trended towards more power to the executive during times of “war” and national emergency.

No one wants to live in fear. That is what terrorists want but on a much broader scale than you and I. They want chaos at airports. They want us to engage in pure racial and ethnic profiling. They want us to round people up and put them in stadiums. They want our Constitution to change for the worse so that we feel less afraid, lulled by into a false state of calm by our new “Fear Based Constitution” They know that it’s always easier to justify a Fear Based Constitution when we are on the outside of the barbed wire looking in.

THAT is the fear they shoot for when bringing down planes. That is how they win. By bringing about fundamental changes to our way of life. What is a more fundamental than a change in our Constitutional Rights solely out of fear.

As we stand united this moment , Is our “Cup Of Constititional Rights” half-full or half-empty? One thing is certain. Whether the “water-level” rises or falls in the near future will be impacted by whether voices of calm and reason or voices of knee-jerk fear are doing the pouring.

Our Constitution has been around for well over 200 years and while getting its edges torn now and then has always managed to withstand moments in history of and moments of great fear. I hope it will escape this fearful moment in-tact.


5 Comments For This Post

  1. Tad Says:

    Not sure I agree that Al Qaeda wants us to profile and round people up, etc. Although I'm sure they consider any internal reaction a kind of victory, I don't think they really care one way or the other how it affects us except to the extent that it causes us to "mind our own business" and stay completely out of Middle Eastern affairs so they can get their little Islamic nirvana going. I believe their goal is simply to drive us out of the region so that radical Islam can grow and prosper. Of course, we can't stay out, we can't leave Israel completely on its own, and even if we could, radical Islam wouldn't grow and prosper. They deeply underestimate how repulsive they are even to other Muslims, probably because so many of them are afraid to stand up and say something. Now if by some miracle radical Islam did fully take hold in the Middle East, they would eventually set their sights on eliminating us even if we kept to ourselves, since we are infidels. But first things first: their radical viewpoint can't really take hold there as long as we support those who need to be toppled in order to do it. Get us out of the region, topple the existing governments, build a mighty Islamic republic, then spread it throughout the rest of the world. I believe that's the plan. The effect their terror has on us matters only to the extent that it contributes to us getting out of the region, and I'm not sure how an eroded Constitution is necessarily helpful.

  2. bcuban Says:

    Your points while valid standing alone appear to be logically conflicting. If the goal is for Radical Islam to prosper in the Middle East, that by its very nature increases the terrorist threat in the United States. You are trying to connect issues that are very different.

  3. Tad Says:

    I don't understand your point, Brian.
    I agree that radical Islam prospering in the Middle East increases our terrorist threat here. That's the tactic they are using to get us out of the region so they can do their thing. They want us to become so afraid of being killed randomly that we demand our government get out of the Middle East so they'll leave us in peace. But an eroded Constitution doesn't necessarily lead to that goal. Profiling doesn't necessarily take us any closer to wanting out of Midddle Eastern affairs. So where is the logical contradiciton?

  4. Tad Says:

    In fact, profiling and a gradual erosion of our Constitution represent a further resolve to STAY in the region, i.e., we're willing to change a little bit of the fundamentals of who we are rather than simply get out of the Middle East. Profiling and rounding people up, etc. mean we're more determined than ever NOT to let Al Qaeda push us out. If the goal is to make us leave the region, it can hardly be considered goods news that we're literally going out of our way to steel ourselves for a long stay.

  5. Rob Panico Says:

    We've been dealing with unconventional warfare for a long long time. The Barbary Pirates were a good example of an early unconventional conflict which challenged our nation. Gathering specific intelligence as to which individuals are a threat to our security should come first. Massive watch lists and big net approaches don't really make us any safer, they just create crummy government jobs and also inconvenience and harass the citizenry. Once we know exactly which individuals mean to do us harm, we contract on a global level with every private entity willing to accept an official congressional Letter of Marque and Reprisal. We place a bounty on the heads of our enemies and allow private contractors to operate as agents of the government under Letter of Marque. That's why Congress was given that power… to deal with small groups of enemies. We're using a sledgehammer to do the job of a screwdriver and the implications are massive public-private war corruption, large scale and unnecessary loss of life, destruction of life sustaining infrastructure, massive mal-investment of large sums of capital, increasing belligerence and dissent of the citzenry, and a disrespect of our national traditions and highest laws. It is arguable we're more fascist than republican at this point according to any objective measure. I know that term is used lightly to describe all kinds of behaviors incorrectly, but I do mean it in the strict political philosophy sense. I like to think we have "friendly fascism" which is not as extreme or dramatic as previous incarnations in the early 20th century. Nonetheless, we're losing our spirit and find ourselves in a massive moral crisis brought about by our monetary system and foreign policy since the end of the second world war.

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