Senator Paul asked “Are we so afraid of terrorism that we’re willing to just throw out our rights and our freedoms?” Apparently, there are many members of congress and constituents who answer “yes” to that question.
Rand Paul’s filibuster was an attempt to activate both Congress and the people to take on the issue of our rights. Twelve senators and sixteen representatives came to support him while 506 members of congress did not show up. Many, because they actually oppose the point that Rand Paul was making. To them, simply stated, the war on terror takes precedence over the rights of the people.
Unless there is a sea change amongst the people that forces Congress to reconsider their stance, the war on terror will continue to be fought at the expense of our freedoms. And, given the extraordinary powers granted to the president during war, the balance of power in our government will continue to tip more and more towards the president.
But, Rand Paul’s filibuster, that delayed the appointment of John Brennan as CIA director, was just the beginning of a discussion. Paul, in his commentary for The Washington Times said that his purpose was to sound an alarm “from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that our rights to trial by jury are precious, and that no American should be killed by a drone on U.S. soil without having been found guilty in a court of law.”
I appreciate that Rand Paul stood up, for 13 hours actually, and argued for the 5th amendment. At the same time, additional limitations to our 2nd and 4th amendment rights are being legislated in Congress with new weapons bans, and with the continual expansion of the Patriot Act that allows government agencies to increasingly spy, collect private data, and perform warrantless searches and seizures on the American people, all in the name of security. Again and again, the war on terror has taken precedence over the rights of the people.
That the assault on our constitutional rights has become so entangled with the war on terror demands that the American people must bring foreign policy into the constitutional rights discussion. The primary complaint of the Middle Eastern terrorists against the United States is our policy of manipulating their societies for the sole purpose of propping up US interests. Yet, as our rights are becoming continually nullified in carrying out those policies, what interests are so important that we should give up what is, at least according to our Constitution, our highest interest — that of individual liberty?
The ten year war on terror has been most effective in the degradation of our rights. The terror itself hasn’t stopped – as one terrorist is killed, another seems to rise to take his place. Taking away our rights and our liberties to keep us safe so that we can continue to execute a foreign policy that compels the terror, makes no real sense. If we continue the war on terror at the expense of our freedom, we lose what is fundamentally most important.