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Stiff Right Jab: Level headed response

By Steve Farrell and Steve Montgomery
web posted September 11, 2001

The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses
The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses

In the wake of the most terrible terrorist attack in this nation’s history, every American would do well to insist that our nation’s leaders prepare a strong response, and yet, an intelligent one, one which punishes our enemies, but protects our liberties.

We would do well to remember, and guard against the power grabbing fiasco that began, but two weeks after the Oklahoma City bombing, under the leadership of President William Jefferson Clinton, when he unveiled the 118 -page Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995 (S. 390 in the Senate and H.R. 896 in the House) and its 18-page Anti-terrorism Amendments Act as an addendum.

It was on May 3, of that year that the President sent the act to Congress for its "immediate consideration and enactment." The pressure was put on to, in essence, act now and think later. Mr. Clinton assured Congress that the bill would "provide an effective and comprehensive response to the threat of terrorism, while also protecting our precious civil liberties." White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes stood by the President’s assurance: "This President is well familiar with the Constitution. He has taught constitutional law and he is very concerned that whatever is submitted conform to the Constitution."

No doubt, Mr. Clinton knew all about the Constitution, for this act did so much in the way of it intentional subversion. A few of its major problems:

• It federalized a host of crimes properly restricted to state jurisdiction.

• It struck a dangerous breach in our posse comitatus law which prohibits the use of the military in law enforcement.

• It granted vast discretionary power to the President to apply the "terrorist" label to organizations and, thereby, subject the members and associates of those groups to federal prosecution.

• It broadened the "interstate commerce" clause to establish federal authority over virtually everybody and everything that moves.

• It permitted law enforcement agencies much greater access to private financial and credit reports.

• It allowed much wider use of wiretaps.

The bill attacked our liberties with such a wide brush that political action groups ranging from the ACLU on the left, to the John Birch Society on the right, raised a sustained and significant protest that eventually reigned in some of its more obnoxious clauses. Liberal Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), who voted against the Senate's more ominous version of the act, regarded the bill as "a vehicle to undo some of the traditional barriers which separate the federal government from state and local law enforcement." That is an attack on states rights, a commitment to centralize authority.

The second plane just about to hit the World Trade Center
The second plane just about to hit the World Trade Center

As for it’s call to nullify posse comitatus guidelines, Feingold called it, "a dangerous precedent, as well as one of the most dangerous departures from the protection of civilian law enforcement in this history of our country."

There was also peripheral damage, lest we forget. Clinton blamed the right for the bombing, initiated a campaign against conservative talk radio, with a solution, in part, of regulation of free speech on radio, and a reversal of the Fairness Doctrine, a reversal which would have been the death knell to conservative talk radio.

Crisis, war, criminal behavior, emotionally charged events present moments of temptation for Presidents. On MTV's Enough is Enough forum, April 19, 1994, Mr. Clinton offered the most candid glimpse of his totalitarian philosophy.

"[W]hen we got organized as a country [and] wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly . . . When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it. That is what we did in the announcement I made last weekend on the public housing projects, about how we're going to have weapon sweeps and more things like that...."

More things like that, is precisely what Clinton gave us in response to terrorism at Oklahoma City. Lovers of American liberty must with vigilance insure that the current occupant of the White House, does not repeat the favor in response to the heinous acts of terrorism inflicted upon us this day. America must guard against and punish her enemies. But she must do so with an eye single to the Constitution. In times of crisis it is belligerents who must maneuver, must run and hide, must when caught suffer the consequences. Free nations and their loyal citizens must not. ESR

Stiff Right Jab comes out Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in NewsMax.com Please send your comments to Steve and Steve at stiffrightjab@aol.com

Bibliography

William Norman Grigg, Liberty Under Law, The New American, June 12, 1995

William F. Jasper, Battling Terrorism With Tyranny, The New American, May 29, 1995

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