HOMELAND INSECURITY: DECONSTRUCTING THE CONSTITUTION
By Tom DeWeese
November 13, 2002
Let the political pundits proclaim a new era of post-Reagan conservatism based on the victory of the Republican Party that now controls both Congress and the White House. It is an illusion and a dangerous one. The election was a voter revolt against further onerous taxation and a response to the threat of the global Islamic holy war. It was neither about conservative values nor a conservative political agenda.
Anyone who looks at the legislative agenda of the Bush administration is forced to conclude that Americans are being stripped of their most valued Constitutional protections. Moreover, the administration has embraced Ted Kennedy's ultra-liberal education and open borders agenda. It continues to further the objectives of the radical environmental agenda called "Sustainable Development."
This is not conservatism. It neither advances, nor protects the freedoms granted by our Constitution. It does just the opposite!
First, let us examine the administration's response to the most immediate threat to America, the global Islamic holy war. The so-called Homeland Security bill is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation ever put forth by any administration. As Phyllis Schlafly correctly states, "If passed, it will mean a giant increase in Big Government without any effect on the front lines of our security, the FBI and CIA, and little effect on the INS and the visa-issuing section of the State Department."
This single act of government agency reorganization will take away sole control of immigration numbers from Congress and permit the President to set those numbers in concert with other nations and international bodies, i.e. the United Nations. At a time when thousands of Mexicans and others from South America are streaming across our 2,000-plus mile southern border every single day, the Homeland Security Bill would permit the President to legitimize this wholesale invasion. The Bush administration is on record advocating another amnesty for illegal aliens at a time when there is an estimated eight to eleven million of these lawbreakers loose in the nation. How many of them are from Middle Eastern nations and harbor bad intentions?
If the first year following 9-11-01 is any example, we have all witnessed the government's inability, unwillingness and astonishing disregard for any real security measures. Thousands of visas have been issued to people coming from the very nations sponsoring the Islamic Jihad. Our borders are no more secure than they were the day the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked, and the federalization of airport screeners actually lowered the standards by which these people were hired.
The "profiling" of airline travelers continues to be forbidden, but the Transportation Security Administration has already spent millions to develop a secret system to profile all Americans. It is called CAPPS II, the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening system, and its purpose is to create an automated system to integrate and analyze both government and private sector databases for the alleged purpose of determining "a threat risk assessment on every airline passenger." Did you get a speeding ticket? Did you purchase a gun? Having a credit problem? Should your name be in any of the countless databases involved, for any reason, you could be refused the right to travel.
Most Americans are unaware that the hurriedly passed USA Patriot Act permits the federal government to ignore the protections of the Fourth Amendment and conduct surveillance without court-issued search warrants. This most fundamental protection no longer exists. Given the liberal philosophy promulgated to generations that have passed through our schools since the 1960s, few are likely to object. Most certainly, the members of Congress who passed the Act did not.
Even the issue of your personal health is no longer yours to determine. Throughout this year, state legislatures were asked by the Bush administration to enact the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MSEHPA) that would authorize state officials to forcibly inject anyone with a drug, vaccine, or other treatment. If you refused, health officials would be authorized to remove you and your family from your home and have you quarantined. It would grant authority to seize and destroy your property without compensation. It would permit the rationing of medical supplies, food, and fuel in a declared public health emergency. Most states refused to pass the most egregious elements of MSEHHPA or even vote on the proposed legislation. What is more fundamental to your personal freedom than the right to determine what medical treatment you will accept?
And what is more fundamental to a free society than that its citizens not be required to carry and produce a National ID card on demand? The Homeland Security bill, however, will initiate this hallmark of authoritarian governments. The President's National Strategy for Homeland Security (NSHS) program will convert everyone's driver's license into a National ID card. It does so with the vaguely worded recommendation for the coordination of "suggested minimum standards for state driver's license."
It gets worse. The NSHS also recommends a plan for "military support to civil authorities." The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 was passed to protect Americans against a President-any President-who would use the nation's military to enforce the law against civilians.
As Phyllis Schlafly notes, "It is a terrible mistake to confuse and combine the different missions of the police and the military. The police are trained to respect civil liberties and use the least amount of force, whereas the military are trained to kill the enemy as rapidly as possible." This was most dramatically demonstrated when US Army tanks participated in the taking of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993. Nearly a hundred civilians, women and children included, brought together by common religious beliefs, were gassed and burned to death on the orders of Janet Reno, then-Attorney General for former President Clinton.
Even the most cursory examination of the programs sponsored by the Bush administration reveals a frightening indifference to the Bill of Rights and other elements of the US Constitution. This isn't inadvertence. This is a deliberate series of legislative and administrative choices, all of which diminish the individual freedoms Americans have long taken for granted.
This isn't homeland security. It is homeland insecurity for every American who still thinks that the rule of law will protect him or her against surveillance and the demand that they turn over all aspects of their daily lives to the approval of the government.
© 2002 Tom DeWeese - All Rights Reserved
Tom DeWeese is the president of the American Policy Center, a grassroots, activist think tank headquartered in Warrenton, Virginia. The Center maintains an Internet site at www.americanpolicy.org.