A Step in the Wrong Direction

by Helen Shibut

President Obama recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act which gives the president the power to detain American citizens indefinitely without a trial if they are accused of terrorism.  Clearly, this is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment right to “a speedy and public trial.” But as we know, this is hardly the first time our government has passed laws that undermine our freedom.  Jonathan Turley’s recent article “10 reasons the U.S. is longer the land of the free” describes other legislation and compares it to that of other countries (you can find it at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-the-united-states-still-the-land-of-the-free/2012/01/04/gIQAvcD1wP_story.html)

Politicians justify laws like the National Defense Authorization Act by saying that they are in place to protect Americans.  It is likely that these laws do indeed make some citizens feel marginally safer—for a time.  But ultimately these laws just make it more difficult for Americans to defend themselves against government overreach.  Benjamin Franklin wrote “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I believe we do deserve liberty and safety, so I hope that our politicians soon repeal this law and others that present such clear threats to American liberty.  

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