by Jacob G. Hornberger
Lost within the “humanitarian” rationale that President Obama and his liberal cohorts have provided for the U.S. Empire’s war on Libya is one of the principal benefits of the Libyan War, at least from the standpoint of U.S. officials: the indefinite continuation of the U.S. government’s anti-terrorist powers that have accompanied its decade-long “war on terrorism.”
Such powers include the search and seizure provisions of the Patriot Act, the enemy- combatant doctrine, indefinite detention, kangaroo military tribunals, Gitmo, secret overseas prison camps, kidnapping, rendition, torture, denial of due process, and body groping and porn-scanning at the airports.
Just like the Middle East dictatorships, the U.S. government is not about to relinquish such powers willingly, even though they have been in existence for some 10 years. President Obama, with the full support of the U.S. military, the CIA, Homeland Security, and both liberals and conservatives in Congress, will come up with every possible rationale as to why it is necessary for federal officials to continue retaining such powers indefinitely into the future, perhaps even as long as the many decades that the Middle East dictatorships have wielded such powers.
Recall Hosni Mubarak, one of the many U.S.-supported dictators in the Middle East. His anti-terrorist powers included the power to arbitrarily search people’s homes and belongings, to arrest suspected terrorists without judicial process, to detain suspected terrorists indefinitely without a trial, to torture suspected terrorists for information or confession, and to even execute suspected terrorists without a trial.
It was Mubarak’s exercise of these anti-terrorist powers that was one of the critical reasons the Egyptian people finally decided to revolt against their own government. Over time, the Egyptian people came to realize what the Framers of the U.S. Constitution understood: such anti-terrorist powers are antithetical to a free society.
Egyptians began risking their lives by demanding an end to their own government’s decades-long anti-terrorist powers. After all, the people understood that the government could and would exercise such powers against those who were calling for the end of such powers.
The Mubarak regime took the position that the Obama administration now takes: No, it would not relinquish its anti-terrorist powers, and it cited two primary reasons for its need to continue exercising such powers indefinitely into the future: the war on terrorism and the war on drugs.
Never mind that the Egyptian government had assumed its anti-terrorism powers some 30 years before, when the president of Egypt had been assassinated. Mubarak, like Obama — and Bush before him — emphasized that the terrorist threat and the drug-dealer threat were still real, viable, ongoing threats that required the continuation of the government’s anti-terrorist powers.
Of course, it helps when government officials make such threats viable. In that way, the chances are improved that frightened citizens will exclaim, “Do whatever you have to do but just protect me from the terrorists and the drug dealers.”
That’s what the Libyan intervention accomplishes. It adds more people being killed by U.S. personnel to those in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere. More people being killed means a bigger threat of terrorist retaliation from friends, family, and countrymen of the dead.
Obama tells us that the purpose of bombing Libyan military forces is to protect Libyan civilians from Libyan soldiers. The idea is that killing Libyan troops is no big deal.
When a U.S. soldier is killed, is it no big deal for the American people, and specifically the family and friends of the soldier? On the contrary, it’s an enormous deal. Spouses, children, brothers, sisters, parents, and other family members grieve, along with friends, clergy, and countrymen. Americans get angry. Oftentimes, they want the government to wreak vengeance against “the Muslims” for the deaths of U.S. soldiers who are invading, attacking, or occupying Middle East countries.
Why should anyone expect the family, friends, and countrymen of Libyan soldiers who are killed by American bombs and missiles to react any differently? Do they not grieve? Do they not get angry? Do they not seek vengeance against those who did the killing?
And therein lies the threat of terrorist retaliation from the friends, family, and countrymen of the Libyan soldiers who are killed by U.S. bombs, missiles, or bullets — a threat that is then used, needless to say, to justify the continuation of the U.S. government’s anti-terrorist powers, and indefinitely into the future — to protect us from “the terrorists.”
The U.S. government has concocted the perfect scheme for the indefinite continuation of its anti-terrorism powers. It uses its IRS-collected tax money and its diplomatic forces, military, CIA, and DEA to intervene in the affairs of other countries — invading, occupying, attacking, bombing, and destroying countries and killing, torturing, incarcerating, abusing, provoking, and humiliating people in the process.
It’s all one great big destructive sham, one that conveniently provides federal officials with a justification for continuing to wield anti-terrorism powers that are inherent to dictatorships —powers that the Framers and our American ancestors understood were antithetical to a free society.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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