Contrasting Views on Preserving Civil Liberties in the Aftermath of an Attack
Part I -- Wisdom
A. James Madison, Political Observations, April 20, 1795
"Of all the enemies to liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war [and] the power of raising armies... A delegation of such powers [to the president] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments. The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it, is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted."
B. Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 8
"Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free."
C. Benjamin Franklin, motto of the Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.
"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
D. Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), "Senate Plans Overhaul of Spy Services," United Press International, September 12, 2001.
"I don't believe that there is any reason to cut or limit our civil liberties. That would be a victory for our terrorist enemies."
Part II -- Folly
A. Trent Lott, Minority Leader, U.S. Senate, September 12, 2001 (quoted in E.J. Dionne, Jr., "To Go On Being Americans," Washington Post, September 14, 2001.
"When you are in this type of conflict, when you are at war, civil liberties are treated differently. We cannot let what happened yesterday happen in the future. We're going to have to be prepared to take whatever action is required."
B. William Cohen, President Clinton's Secretary of Defense, July 26, 1999 op-ed.
"Fears about the military's role in domestic affairs are unfounded. There need be no fear or foreboding by the American people of the preparations of their government. On the contrary, the greater threat to our civil liberties stems from the chaos and carnage that might result from an attack for which we had failed to prepare and the demands for action that would follow."