Extinguishing Liberty’s Light and Independent Views
Thinking for yourself is now a crime
By Paul Craig Roberts
" -- -- What
was the greatest failure of 2007? President Bush’s “surge” in
Iraq? The decline in the value of the US dollar? Subprime
mortgages? No. The greatest failure of 2007 was the newly sworn
in Democratic Congress.
The American people’s attempt in November 2006 to rein in a
rogue government, which has committed the US to costly military
adventures while running roughshod over the US Constitution,
failed. Replacing Republicans with Democrats in the House and
Senate has made no difference.
The assault on the US Constitution by the Democratic Party is as
determined as the assault by the Republicans. On October 23,
2007, the House passed a bill sponsored by California Democratic
congresswoman Jane Harman, chairwoman of a Homeland Security
subcommittee, that overturns the constitutionally guaranteed
rights to free expression, association, and assembly.
The bill passed the House on a vote of 404-6. In the Senate the
bill is sponsored by Maine Republican Susan Collins and
apparently faces no meaningful opposition.
Harman’s bill is called the “Violent Radicalization and
Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.” [
When HR 1955 becomes law, it will create a commission tasked
with identifying extremist people, groups, and ideas. The
commission will hold hearings around the country, taking
testimony and compiling a list of dangerous people and beliefs.
The bill will, in short, create massive terrorism in the United
States. But the perpetrators of terrorism will not be Muslim
terrorists; they will be government agents and fellow citizens.
We are beginning to see who will be the inmates of the detention
centers being built in the US by Halliburton under government
Who will be on the “extremist beliefs” list? The answer is:
civil libertarians, critics of Israel, 9/11 skeptics, critics of
the administration’s wars and foreign policies, critics of the
administration’s use of kidnapping, rendition, torture and
violation of the Geneva Conventions, and critics of the
administration’s spying on Americans. Anyone in the way of a
powerful interest group--such as environmentalists opposing
politically connected developers--is also a candidate for the
The “Extremist Beliefs Commission” is the mechanism for
identifying Americans who pose “a threat to domestic security”
and a threat of “homegrown terrorism” that “cannot be easily
prevented through traditional federal intelligence or law
This bill is a boon for nasty people. That SOB who stole your
girlfriend, that hussy who stole your boyfriend, the gun owner
next door--just report them to Homeland Security as holders of
extreme beliefs. Homeland Security needs suspects, so they are
not going to check. Under the new regime, accusation is
evidence. Moreover, “our” elected representatives will never
admit that they voted for a bill and created an “Extremist
Belief Commission” for which there is neither need nor
That boss who harasses you for coming late to work--he’s a good
candidate to be reported; so is that minority employee that you
can’t fire for any normal reason. So is the husband of that
good-looking woman you have been unable to seduce. Every kind
of quarrel and jealousy can now be settled with a phone call to
Soon Halliburton will be building more detention centers.
Americans are so far removed from the roots of their liberty
that they just don’t get it. Most Americans don’t know what
habeas corpus is or why it is important to them. But they
know what they want, and Jane Harman has given them a new way to
settle scores and to advance their own interests.
Even educated liberals believe that the US Constitution is a
“living document” that can be changed to mean whatever it needs
to mean in order to accommodate some new important cause, such
as abortion and legal privileges for minorities and the
handicapped. Today it is the “war on terror” that the
Constitution must accommodate. Tomorrow it can be the war on
whomever or whatever.
Think about it. More than six years ago the World Trade Center
and Pentagon were attacked. The US government blamed it on al
Qaeda. Scant evidence has been presented. The 9/11 Commission
Report has been subjected to devastating criticism by a large
number of qualified people--including the commission’s chairman
Since 9/11 there have been no terrorist attacks in the US. The
FBI has tried to orchestrate a few, but the “terrorist plots”
never got beyond talk organized and led by FBI agents. There
are no visible extremist groups other than the neoconservatives
that control the government in Washington. But somehow the
House of Representatives overwhelmingly sees a need to create a
commission to take testimony and search out extremist views
(outside of Washington, of course).
This search for extremist views comes after President Bush and
the Justice (sic) Department declare that the President can
ignore habeas corpus, ignore the Geneva Conventions,
seize people without evidence, hold them indefinitely without
presenting charges, torture them until they confess to some made
up crime, and take over the government by declaring an
emergency. Of course, none of these “patriotic” views are
The search for extremist views follows also the granting of
contracts to Halliburton to build detention centers in the US.
No member of Congress or the executive branch ever explained the
need for the detention centers or who the detainees would be.
Of course, there is nothing extremist about building detention
centers in the US for undisclosed inmates.
Clearly the detention centers are not meant to just stand there
empty. Thanks to 2007’s greatest failure--the Democratic
Congress--there is to be an “Extremist Beliefs Commission” to
secure inmates for Bush’s detention centers.
President Bush promises us that the wars he has launched will
cause the “untamed fire of freedom” to “reach the darkest
corners of our world.” Meanwhile in America the fire of freedom
has not only been tamed but also is being extinguished.
The light of liberty has gone out in the United States.
Paul Craig Robertswrote the
Kemp-Roth bill and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in
the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall
Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of
National Review. He is author or coauthor of eight books,
including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press).
He has held numerous academic appointments, including the
William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for
Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and
Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified
before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S.
Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of
Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy
under editor Robert Mundell. He is the co-author of The Tyranny
of Good Intentions. He is also coauthor with Karen Araujo of
Chile: Dos Visiones – La Era Allende-Pinochet (Santiago:
Universidad Andres Bello, 2000).
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