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Princess Leia and Civil Rights

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Published on: Thursday, June 20, 2013

By Brian J. Karem

Reading and watching the U.S. government recently defend its systemic dismantling of the Constitution as it hunted terrorists was a test of my intestinal fortitude. Luckily I survived, but if I wanted this type of fiction, I’d rather attend Comic-Con where at least I get to see beautiful women dressed up in the Princess Leia slave costume.

Comic-Con is far more amusing and even more believable than the Draconian methods used by the NSA to hunt and thwart potential terrorist plots in the United States.

For those still residing under your nearest igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic housing structure, whistle-blower Edward Snowden recently blew the lid off a secret National Security Agency program that collects data from telephone records across the country.

Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the NSA director and President Barack Obama have both defended this program, with the general testifying that as many as 50 terrorists threats were thwarted by the government’s actions. In no particular order, let’s address these assertions. First, the government has lost all credibility and cannot be believed when it stridently testifies one, 10 or even 50 terrorists plans have been stopped due to the NSA program. Prove it.

Secondly; who cares? One would actually hope such Stalinist methods did indeed have some positive result, else what’s next? You plan on locking down an entire city and making us stay inside while you go house to house searching for possible terrorists?

And one would also mention the success of such a program is hardly the point. Mr. Wilson could claim he kept Dennis the Menace off his front lawn if he capped the kid in the head with a Mossberg .12 gauge pump shot gun. But it would be overkill.

So is destroying your civil rights and civil liberties for the illusion of safety. Some members of Congress, eager to show the rest of the country just how jaded, cynical, hypocritical and Constitutionally challenged they are have declared Snowden a traitor to the country.

FOX television even broadcast an interview with Snowden’s dad pleading for his son to come home and begged him not to release any more information.

President Obama meanwhile declared his administration has been very judicious in its use of power and has struck the correct balance between freedom and security.

Forgive me there is absolutely no evidence to support such a whimsical claim. Who knows who has the private information the government confiscated or what nefarious reason someone will ultimately use it or already has?

Finally, everyone is missing the point. The idea of the United States was a great idea while it lasted; a government that governs best by governing least. It didn’t interfere in your life and allowed the citizens to rule themselves. It had a nice run, but it’s over the minute someone starts “striking a balance” between freedom and safety.

The terrorists have won because they’ve shown the rest of the world the United States is no different than any other totalitarian regime – and perhaps worse – because it cloaks itself in the high sounding and well-meaning rhetoric of “freedom” and “justice” while at the same time curbing that freedom and circumventing its own rules of justice in order to go on a manhunt.

Terrorists have exposed us as a fearful and brittle people, willing to buy the idea of freedom while easily chucking it down the circular file so our friendly, benign totalitarian democracy can hunt down potential terrorist threats. In the best Orwellian tradition, many of us embrace these two disparate thoughts with a smile.

The only way to live the American Dream as espoused by our forefathers is to do so boldly. Declare to the rest of the world we will not circumvent our own rules, we will not hide, we will not be fearful – even if you burn every building to the ground and kill every one of us.

You cannot stand up to the terrorist threat by playing into the terrorists hands and destroying the very thing which makes us better than the nations which spawned the terrorists.

Hasn’t anyone seen the original Star Wars? The more you try to squeeze the more it slips through your fingers. Princess Leia said it better, but she had a point. While Star Wars is just fiction, I sorely and eagerly wish the destruction of my civil rights were equally fictional.

But it isn’t. It’s real and thanks to The Patriot Act, President George W. Bush and now President Barack Obama, there is very little left of the Constitution to defend. What’s next, soldiers being quartered in my home as they hunt for potential terrorists?

Reader Comments - 1 Total

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Posted By: Sue Jacobson On: 6/25/2013

Title: Princess Leia and Civil Rights

This is an excellent interpretation of what is happening. Officials and citizens who claim to believe in the constitution and/or democracy should remember the words of Ben Franklin, ”Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.”


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