Saturday, September 02, 2006

Homeland Security and Privacy

This morning on Fox News Channel's Cavuto on Business Head to Head segment, the guest visiting the show was "ACLU member Michael Gross," as introduced by Neal Cavuto. The question was whether people would or should be willing to give up some privacy to gain security. Issues on whether it's a valid question aside, his answer knotted my knickers...
What the administration and Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff need is a lesson in Constitutional law. They have been speaking with forked tongue. You can't understand the piece that he asks for now. Is it European data they want to fish? Is it illegal use of, uh, in other words, avoiding FISA warrants again? Go back to Congress like the Supreme Court told them to do and play it the way the checks and balances system in this country works, which is, you debate it before Congress, tell them why you want what you want, they pass a law, then when they sign it you execute it. You don't sign another statement saying you're not gonna do it.
Okay, where to start with this diatribe?

Well, first, the Supreme Court was divided on this, with the majority opinion being emotional and vapid (73 pages plus rebuttal), ripped to shreds by the dissent (83 pages in three separate dissents). Of course, the Supreme Court has been divided on many cases where the majority was wrong but still won...Kelo comes immediately to mind. This only confirms how important it is that justices be selected based on their Constitutional foundation and not their political ideologies. But that's a whole other rant...

The main point here is that civil libertarians love to whine on about the freedom of speech in the First Amendment and the inferred "right to privacy" they like to find in the Fourth Amendment, but patently refuse to acknowledge the explicit right to keep and bear arms of the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment is often maligned and misrepresented by those who think government is the answer to all problems. The Founding Fathers believed government was the source of more problems than solutions for the citizens. The Constitution they crafted described the operation of Government but, especially, put strict limits on its power. The main opposition to including the Second Amendment in the bill of rights was not that keeping and bearing arms was inappropriate. Rather, those who opposed codifying that right believed that the words themselves might be twisted and used against the citizens to disarm them. Indeed, that has been the case. If you are one of those who think that the preparatory clause in this amendment limits its coverage to the national guard, go back and do your homework--I've already covered it.

We are at war, people!

The fact some don't like it doesn't change reality. War was declared on the USA in 1993 with the first World Trade Center bombing. It wasn't until 2001 that we finally acknowledged being under attack. The Cavuto on Business discussion was supposed to center on whether airline passengers right to privacy supersedes the need to ensure security of the passengers. Mr. Gross chose instead to use the opportunity as a soapbox for his own left-wing brand of activism.

I have held for some time that the number sequence 9-1-1 would today have no more meaning than a call for emergency services if even one law-abiding passenger on each of those flights had been appropriately armed. I'm not the only one to see it that way, either. Oleg Volk put it in his unique and eloquent style with this photo of a well-equipped airline passenger:
The Real Airline Security - Armed Passengers. Hijack this!
(click on the photo for the full image)

When gun control was defined only as "using both hands and hitting your target," there were no restrictions on passengers being armed. There were no passenger screenings other than to be sure you had your ticket and that your bags weren't too heavy. There were no highjackings, either.

Some would counter that the world has changed and we have to disarm all passengers to be sure that the terrorists aren't armed. I ask you whether that plan was in effect or could have stopped the attacks on 9/11/01. Yes, that plan was in effect. No, it obviously didn't do anything to prevent those attacks and, IMAO, probably allowed them to occur. Should we let everyone on the plane carry firearms? Wrong question. In the first place, "we" (meaning the government) have no business determining whether the airlines, which are private companies, should allow their customers to be armed. That ought to be up to the airlines as a business decision. Ohio's concealed carry law contains provisions (similar to many states) for private businesses to prohibit the carrying of weapons by their employees and customers. It's their choice, their business decision. Many of those who initially banned weapons later changed that policy because their best customers decided to take their business elsewhere. The same should be true for airlines. If an airline decided to allow their passengers to carry weapons, and even more so, allowed their ticket agents and flight attendants to be packing also, I'd fly them to the exclusion of any "terrorist protection zone" airline.

Should airlines be able to discriminate and make their own determination of who may or may not carry a weapon? Absolutely. And that could mean they'd tell me that I don't meet their criteria, even though I shoot nearly every week, have no criminal record, and spent a full 20-year career as a military officer. Unlikely, but possible. Then it would be up to me to decide whether I want to fly on an airline that exercises such poor judgment. :-)

It is all the more important, now that we are in an unconventional war, for citizens to be armed with effective weapons and well trained in their use. The Civilian Marksmanship Program was once a key element of homeland defense. A well-armed and trained citizenry was credited by some with at least deterring a Japanese invasion of the continental US during World War II. Would knowing that citizens traveling on aircraft might be sufficiently armed to take out highjackers have deterred them from their attempt? Hard to say. Would armed passengers have stopped the attempt cold? Absolutely. Even the unarmed passengers of Flight 93 stopped the attempt. The difference in outcome would have been how many died preventing that airliner from flying to its target in Washington DC. Maybe the death toll would have been the four terrorists, maybe they'd have killed a flight attendant before the armed passengers realized the severity of the situation, maybe some other passengers would also have been killed, or perhaps the threat of failure would have caused them to stop the attack with nobody being killed. These radical terrorists aren't afraid of dying for their cause, but they are afraid to die in a failed attempt.

I submit that the unconstitutional abridgment of the right of citizens to keep and bear arms which started over 70 years ago with the National Firearms Act of 1934 is a direct contributing factor in the lack of security the left-wing "civil libertarians" decry. Would we be asking whether to trade privacy for security if we hadn't already surrendered individual rights and responsibility to the imperial federal government? I don't think so.

It is long past time to take back those rights. Our lives depend on it.

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