Sunday, December 18, 2005

How soon we forget: Should we now play nice with terror?

This Article speaks for itself. From the Union Leader.

LET US BE the spirit of Christmas Past for the moment. Not long past, although it may seem that way now to some Americans. This is the spirit of a Christmas recently past — the one immediately following Sept. 11, 2001.
Given the current arguments over rough treatment of captured terrorists in overseas jails and the potential violation of civil rights here at home, it is instructive to think back to America's top-of-mind concerns just four Christmases ago.
Was there any American citizen at that time who wasn't prepared to take whatever measures might be necessary to (a) find the evil men behind the 9-11 attacks and (b) use whatever means and methods might be needed to ferret out information to prevent another such attack?
In the wake of the mass murder of thousands of innocent Americans — preceded by the throat-slitting mayhem committed aboard the airplanes used as weapons — who among us would have hesitated an instant to have our government do whatever it took to prevent this from happening again?
Time heals all wounds. But it also dims what were once priorities and vital concerns. From the seeming safe remove of four years, we now yawn at "code alerts" and watch politicians and lawyers debate the niceties of terrorist treatment in overseas jails.
This weekend, the New York Times reports of National Security Administration eavesdropping on potential terrorist e-mails and telephone calls originating here at home.
The NSA has always had the authority to do this kind of security eavesdropping overseas. It has rarely done it here at home. And guess what? Immediately following the attacks on America, the 9-11 Commission roundly criticized the NSA for restricting itself far more than the laws allowed!
The Times now reports that President Bush signed an executive order to allow the NSA to move immediately in some cases to listen in on suspected terrorists in order to foil their plots. We suspect the average American's reaction to this news was: For goodness sake, we HOPE that is what the authorities have been doing!
There needs to be a balance between what is necessary to protect our nation from a new and extremely dangerous enemy and what is needed to protect the liberties that make this nation what it is. That balance must take into account the new dangers we face, and the horror we had just gone through not so many Christmases ago.
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