Civil Liberties

Foreign Policy and Civil Liberties

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Interesting summation of the many presentations at the Future of Freedom Foundation's early June three-day conference on foreign policy and civil liberties. Speakers included James Bovard, libertarian historian Ralph Raico, Freeman editor Sheldon Richman, former Pentagon staffer Karen Kwiatkowski, Robert Higgs, Robert Scheer, Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, and Rep. Ron Paul, among others. Also Judge Andrew Napolitano, who

spoke about the curtailment of civil liberties that typically accompanies war, giving numerous examples from US history. He called the Patriot Act "the most abominable, unconstitutional, hateful from the point of view of freedom legislation since the Alien and Sedition Act" from the Presidency of John Adams. Most members of Congress never even read, much less debated, the Patriot Act. The Fourth Amendment and the right to privacy have been completely eliminated by the Patriot Act and the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004. Federal bail requirements have become so stringent that the burden of proof is now on the defendant to demonstrate the lack of flight risk. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 allows for the continued incarceration of persons even after acquittal. Judge Napolitano noted that while the Supreme Court has overturned some of the most egregious abuses of civil liberties since 9-11, this may well change with the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor and the appointment of pro-Bush administration jurists to the Court.

Napolitano was interviewed in reason's March 2005 issue.

NEXT: Genarlow Wilson Freed

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  1. Jesus Christ pulling the ticks of an Australian Shepherd. Do you have to hit me up with this depressing shit on a Monday?

  2. …and the Alien and Sedition Acts did nothing to stop us from being overrun by the French Menace.

  3. The next time Michael Young decides to search for a libertarian foreign policy, we can take up a collection to send him to a FFF conference.

  4. There’s plenty of valid criticisms one can make of narrowing defintions of civil liberties without the overwrought hyperbole of Judge Napolitano.

    He called the Patriot Act “the most abominable, unconstitutional, hateful from the point of view of freedom legislation since the Alien and Sedition Act” from the Presidency of John Adams.
    So, the internment camps of WWII weren’t as bad? The Sedition laws of WWI weren’t as bad?

    Most members of Congress never even read, much less debated, the Patriot Act.
    As opposed to being briefed by members of their staff as they are for every other piece of legislation they ever pass.

    The Fourth Amendment and the right to privacy have been completely eliminated by the Patriot Act and the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004.
    Which is why policemen stroll through your house wiping their ass with old warrant as they look through your couch cushions for evidence of money laundering. The Patriot Act and intelligence act did make some warrantless phone taps easier to do and easier to share between intelligence agencies, but the Fourth Amendment is largely intact. The erosion of Fourth Amendment rights is more attribtuable to the drug war than the war on terror.

    Federal bail requirements have become so stringent that the burden of proof is now on the defendant to demonstrate the lack of flight risk.
    Which section of the Patriot Act reverses the burden of proof on all bail hearings?

    People won’t take real losses of civil liberties seriously if this type of exaggeration is allowed to pass for reasoned commentary.

  5. He called the Patriot Act “the most abominable, unconstitutional, hateful from the point of view of freedom legislation since the Alien and Sedition Act” from the Presidency of John Adams.

    Some of the legislation during the Lincoln and Wilson administrations was far worse in many respects than the PATRIOT ACT.

    I’ve stated this a number of times and I’ll state it again. As far as wars go, this one has been the kindest (so far) from a civil liberties perspective in U.S. history. At the same time I ain’t saying there is nothing to riled up about.

  6. “So, the internment camps of WWII weren’t as bad? The Sedition laws of WWI weren’t as bad?”

    I thought of those examples too. I also thought about what we’ve done to some Native American groups too. …there were some nasty laws in the South back in the day, too. Those are all examples of bad behavior, but when we get into whether one’s worse than the other, I think we inevitably run into some qualitative criteria.

    Will the Patriot Act have a bigger effect over a longer period? Is the number of people affected more important? Does it matter how many people actually died? Does the motivation matter–the fear to racism ratio? I don’t know how you answer any of those questions without making some qualitative judgments.

    I hate Brussels Sprouts. They taste worse than anything!

    …is that hyperbole? I don’t think so.

  7. Does it matter how many people actually died?

    Can you give an example of how the PATRIOT Act killed someone?

    Some of your other examples (“nasty laws in the South back in the day” or treatment of Native Americans) don’t compare. They’re not federal statutes.

    But point taken on the difficulty of judging long-running effects which are relatviely minor as opposed to short term effects which are much more severe.

  8. Ken Shultz,

    Well, I’ve as yet to see anything like what happened to The Masses.

  9. “Most members of Congress never even read, much less debated, the Patriot Act.”

    The act is over 400 pages long and Congress was only given an hour to read it before they had to vote on it. I certainly can’t read that fast. Not that they would have read it anyway. I believe only 6 senators read the 90 page intelligence report concerning Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction which convinced some who did read it that there was really no proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

  10. I believe only 6 senators read the 90 page intelligence report

    You mean there are 6 senators who can read?

  11. Rattlesnake Jake,

    Bob Graham, for example. And look what the “liberal” media did to him.

  12. I like the Judge, and I’m confused about why he’s so popular on the Fox News circuit, chumming it up with Doocy and Kilmeade, and even being treated respectfully by O’Reilly. If Sullum made the same argument as the Judge he would get screamed at, and Gillespie would get his mic cut off.

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