However, one of the thirteen stated functions of the federal government in the Constitution is 'providing for the common defense' and as jerked out of historical context as the Bierce quote is it is apropos. For all the dollars we send off to Washington we do have a reasonable right to feel that our government will use some of them to actually protect us from foreign treats whether from enemy states or simply marauders such as the 9-11 terrorists. (Who ought be considered in the same category as pirate 'the common enemies of mankind'.). The current administration didn't produce the sorry state of affairs that led to 9-11. There is a long line of high ranking civil and military figures and several past presidents that have 9-11 to answer for. From the murder of US diplomats in Khartoum in 1973 down to the series of terrorist events Bill Clinton chose to ignore, starting with the first attack on the WTC in Feb 1993 the so called leaders who recoiled from dealing with terrorism because of its inherent messiness and potential for generating diplomatic headaches and bad press (the MSM feel the only response to terrorism tolerable is 'sympathy' for its victims) have the blood of 9-11 fatalities on their hands.
When Reagan and part of his White House team wanted to get serious with terrorism there was the biggest uproar imaginable within the government. No agency wanted to touch it. The Pentagon chieftains saw it as a messy no win engagement that would siphon dollars from big ticket weapons systems. (The US armed forces want to prepare and fight high intensity battlefield conflict such as the battle we endlessly prepared to fight with the Soviets over West Germany. The unconventional gray area conflicts that would have tobe (and now are) being waged with terrorists and their enablers was simply an unpalatable diversion. The State Dept urinated on itself with fear of the 'consequences' of taking such actions. The Arabs would get angry and the French would be unhappy and the Russians would use the attacks to 'make inroads' among the turban turner nations. Blah Blah Blah. This was why most of the anti terror campaign faltered from the start. When we intercepted the Klinghoffer killers aircraft and forced down in Sicily there was the damnedest uproar imaginable. 'Piracy, violation of international law', were among the mildest epithets Euroweasels employed. Now finally our government is doing something to crush the terrorists and still all the liberals and their ilk do is rant about 'prisoner abuse' and how we have made the Europeans unhappy.
Bottom line , if there is one thing we our owed by our government it is an effort to keep Americans from being killed en mass by foreigners.
True, but to be totally secure, we have to give up liberty. To be totally free, we have to give up security. Now, there exists a continuum between these 2 extremes, some relative mutually exclusive weighting, and the ideal selection of some point along that continuum is difficult to choose so that everyone is happy. The fact is that most of the responses that the Bush administration has made in the way of the Dept. of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act have been roundly critized by critics such as Bierce as being too over-reaching. Your point is well-made regarding the responsibilities as laid out in the Constitution, but I don't think the founders envisioned a threat that came from vaguely defined terrorist groups as opposed to other foreign nations. Out government does a pretty good job of keeping other countries from harming us while not sacrificing any personal liberties. It cannot, however, completely protect us from terrorists without potentially depleting some civil liberties. The point that I was making was that Bierce seemed to think that we as Americans value security above all else and would be willing to give up significant amounts of our personal liberties in order to feel secure. I believe that Americans would rather keep most of our civil liberties and be less secure, than vice-versa.
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