- WASHINGTON -- On Sept. 11
of last year, President Bush declared, "Freedom has been attacked,
but freedom will be defended." However, a new Cato Institute report
shows that Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft have supported measures
that are antithetical to freedom, such as secretive subpoenas, secretive
arrests, secretive trials, and secretive deportations.
- In "Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Preserving Our Liberties
While Fighting Terrorism," Timothy Lynch, director of the Cato Institute's
Project on Criminal Justice, explains that lawmakers too often respond
to terrorist attacks "by rushing to enact more antiterrorism legislation
in a desperate attempt to give police and intelligence agencies additional
powers to stop the killing."
- According to Lynch, lawmakers made a dreadful mistake
by rushing to enact new legislation before launching an inquiry to hold
government officials accountable for negligence or incompetence. The new
homeland security department is simply the latest turn in a cycle of terrorist
attacks followed by freedom-stifling legislation, the study shows.
- In the hurry to appear to be doing "something"
about a threat facing the nation, policymakers too often overlook accountability,
history, reality and liberty, Lynch says. Because another terrorist attack
is a virtual certainty, "It is vitally important for policymakers
to break the recurring cycle of enacting antiterrorism legislation before
the pillars of our constitutional republic are completely undermined."
- In the report, Lynch surveys the different antiterror
measures that have been proposed, including those following the first World
Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the September 11 attack.
Among other things, he shows that military trials of American citizens
are unconstitutional and that "the most recent antiterrorism legislation
will allow the police to compel records from any business regarding any
person, including medical records from hospitals, educational records from
universities, and even records of books that have been checked out from
the local library or purchased from the bookstore."
- "If present trends continue, it is likely that America
will drift toward national identification cards, a national police force,
and more extensive military involvement in domestic affairs," Lynch
writes. "That ought to give pause to people of goodwill from all across
the political spectrum--Since those are telltale signs of societies that
- See "Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Preserving Our
Liberties While Fighting Terrorism": http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-443es.html