One of the left's major complaints about President Bush is his supposed threat to civil liberties. Issues including NSA analysis of phone records, wiretapping of foreign phone calls, the PATRIOT ACT, the Homeland Security Department, and holding enemy combatants without trials have stirred the ire of many Americans.
These are not easy issues. There are costs and potential dangers on both sides. Certainly, the threat of terrorism is very real, and the government needs the power to stop it. However, we should view skeptically its demands for more power. The fact is, the government has not effectively used the powers that it already has. 9/11 could have been prevented if government had controlled immigration, screened for known terrorists, arrested illegal aliens at traffic stops, allowed pilots to carry guns, or investigated Zacharias Moussaoui without fear of 'racial profiling'.
Meanwhile, there are serious dangers in giving the government more power. But why do we have civil liberties at all? Don't we want it to have every chance to stop bad things from happening? One possible answer is to protect the rights of criminals. But criminals don't deserve protection. The innocent deserve protection, not the guilty. We have civil liberties for everyone because we can't trust the government to tell us which is which.
The whole point in having civil liberties is to prevent the government from becoming tyrannical. But only a crazy anti-government extremist could really believe that our government could ever become tyrannical, right? Well, you should read the Founding Fathers, who wrote the Bill of Rights. They talked constantly about the dangers of tyrannical government--and government was much less intrusive then than it is now.
Government always wants more power. But power can be used for good or evil. As President Gerald Ford said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." Yet the leftists who supposedly understand the dangers of more government power for national defense have no problem with more government control over the economy.
Case in point: In England, a man is being denied health care because he mailed pictures of an abortion to the Queen. If the government has the power to give you health care, it has the power to deny you health care. Thus socialism can be used as a means of political control.
A state that wishes to totally control its subjects cannot rely exclusively on martial force. A much more subtle and powerful weapon is the ability to deny people needed services. Thus those who abhor tyranny must resist all government efforts to control the economy.
Civil liberties deserve better defenders than liberals.