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Take terrorist's rights, not ours!

By Gary Aldrich
web posted October 1, 2001

Some are offering, without being asked, to trade in more liberties in return for the perception of safety. The trouble is these people wish to give away my liberties, and I strongly object because my liberties are protected by the Constitution. I like my rights and I want to keep them.

Suggesting draconian changes to our liberties is Tony Blankley, Newt Gingrich's former assistant and now columnist for the Washington Times. He suggested in a recent column that the terrorists may have more horrific surprises in store for us, based on comments made by former Soviet Union officials who claim that nuclear bombs can be secreted in briefcases, and that some of these briefcases may be missing. He also reminds us that terrorists may use biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction in various ways to kill us.

The trouble with these pronouncements is that some of us have been sounding warnings about these threats for years, but the U.S. government has done nothing substantial to eliminate it. There is only one remedy for serious terrorist threats to this nation, and it is - and continues to be - a military response.

Lincoln didn't exactly endear himself to the civil libertarians of his day
Lincoln didn't exactly endear himself to the civil libertarians of his day

Mr. Blankley recalls that President Lincoln suspended civil liberties during the Civil War, but admits that none know for certain whether that helped protect the Union or not. Finally, Mr. Blankley suggests that Congress should pass legislation that gives President Bush the authority to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, and to also do serious damage to the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure. Mr. Blankley writes, "Such a benefit is well worth the cost of a temporary suspension of our civil liberties."

No, Mr. Blankley, it is not. Allow me to tell you what we should do instead. First, Americans should have a little more confidence in our highly energized FBI, CIA, military intelligence and law enforcement agencies. They are finally on the case, and the President is giving them the full support they need. Thousands of them are working night and day and sleep in the hallways of their agencies to identify and round up as many of these terrorists and witnesses as possible. Already the FBI has detained more than 400, and has a list of suspects that number more than 700 that is growing by the day. They will do a good job of ridding our neighborhoods of these vermin.

Second, the U.S. military is on the case - and moving to many points around the globe to do what they always do best: destroy threatening buildings and people, afterall that's what we pay them to do. Hopefully they will find Osama Bin Laden soon, and vaporize him and his followers, or anyone else who might have the bad luck to be in the same 100-mile radius.

Americans do not care about the rights of terrorists. What will bring smiles to their faces will be hot fire and bomb concussions. But they also care a lot about their constitutional rights and liberties.

Americans know a knee-jerk reaction from real action, and President Bush has set us upon a course that I believe most Americans want. Taking away more of our rights is, without a doubt, an impulsive reaction and we don't have time for worthless exercises. I doubt you can find two people in all of America who would blame an FBI agent for forgetting to read a known terrorist his rights, if it meant that we could get all these vermin off our streets.

Sometimes you don't need a book or a new law to figure out what needs to be done, and I believe this is one of those times.

Suggesting there is a legal remedy to our problem does nothing but give ammunition to the peaceniks who think that indictments and arrests, and long drawn out trials are the answer. Trials will not bolster our national security. We don't need more lawyering, we need more soldiering.

Terrorists are not impressed with our paperwork, so let's get on with what we have to do - we must kill them.

There has been a presumption that arresting terrorists and reading them their rights is the correct approach because it shows the terrorists how "nice" we are. The liberal theory is that terrorists will respond in kind. We have investigated, indicted and arrested terrorists for years. Their response to our fairness was September 11, 2001.

Here's a suggestion: Suspend the rights of the terrorists, and then Americans will not have to be concerned about habeas corpus or the loss of their Fourth Amendment, nor any other right that is granted to us with our citizenship. These terrorists are not American citizens, and if they have fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship to further their deadly conspiracy, then they are spies!

Needless to say, everyone knows what we do with spies in a time of war. So, Mr. Blankley, offer to suspend their rights, not ours.

The Patrick Henry Center is a 501-(3) nonprofit, non-partisan Educational and Charitable Foundation. It does not support endorse or oppose candidates, or proposed legislation.

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