In a country founded on “self evident truths” such as life, liberty, equality, and due process of law, the timeless quote from Ben Franklin speaks to the peril imposed when the founding principles are discarded or compromised:
Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.
Yet, of course, since 9/11 that is exactly what the United States has done and what has resulted in return. Fareed Zakaria has a piece up at Newsweek speaking to the senseless and destructive madness that has consumed the US since the 9/11 attacks:
The error this time is more damaging. September 11 was a shock to the American psyche and the American system. As a result, we overreacted.
Some 30,000 people are now employed exclusively to listen in on phone conversations and other communications in the United States. And yet no one in Army intelligence noticed that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had been making a series of strange threats at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he trained. The father of the Nigerian “Christmas bomber” reported his son’s radicalism to the U.S. Embassy. But that message never made its way to the right people in this vast security apparatus. The plot was foiled only by the bomber’s own incompetence and some alert passengers.
Such mistakes might be excusable. But the rise of this national-security state has entailed a vast expansion in the government’s powers that now touches every aspect of American life, even when seemingly unrelated to terrorism.
In the past, the U.S. government has built up for wars, assumed emergency authority, and sometimes abused that power, yet always demobilized after the war. But this is a war without end. When do we declare victory? When do the emergency powers cease?
Conservatives are worried about the growing power of the state. Surely this usurpation is more worrisome than a few federal stimulus programs. When James Madison pondered this issue, he came to a simple conclusion: “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germs of every other … In war, too, the discretionary power of the executive is extended?.?.?.?and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.
“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual war,” Madison concluded.
Indeed it is a chilling picture we have allowed our political “leaders” to paint us into, and Zakaria does not even hit some of the most disturbing impingements on due process and the rule of law such as the government arrogating itself the right to summarily execute American citizens with no judicial trial or due process whatsoever and the legal black hole that is Guantanamo and the Obama Military Commission and indefinite detention program. That is, as a nation, who and what we are today and it has bought us nothing except world scorn, geometrically more enemies, a plundered treasury, ignored and dilapidated domestic infrastructure, swelling joblessness and exploding income inequality.
But, hey, at least we have increased security and all those oppressive terrorist modalities are only for al-Qaida and the bad foreigners, right? No. The rot is now who we are, towards ourselves in addition to “them”. And that is where we finally get to the subject of the title of this post. Nothing demonstrates the deadly rot virus that has been injected into the blood of the American ethos than the story of Zeitoun. (more after jump) Read more