The twin fascists: Roosevelt and Lincoln
The title of The Guardian'
s article is "War on Civil Liberties", and it represents one of a plethora of left-leanining articles concerning our War on Terror and its effect on the civil liberties that we hold dear.
Its subtitle is "The US refuses to either charge or free those suspected of terrorism. Edward Helmore on why lawyers are crying foul." I guess I shouldn't be surprised--The Guardian
is the UK's premiere left-wing publication. In their worldview, it is George W. Bush, not international terrorism, that is the primary threat to the world we know today.
If you read The Guardian
enough--or Harper's Weekly, The Nation, The New York Times, Newsweek
or just about any publication that is owned and operated by dyed-in-the-wool lefties--you might think that President George W. Bush has waged an unprecedented and entirely illegal war against our constitutionally-protected civil liberties. Of course, you would be wrong.
Civil liberties in the United States today are not in jeopardy. You can still protest the war, distribute anti-war literature, teach anti-Americanism at top universities, camp out outside of the presidential ranch (Cindy Sheehan), call the president a "fascist", lie about the war, make foney "documentary" films that are purposely dishonest from beginning to end (Michael Moore), prevent military recruiters and ROTC programs from operating on college campuses, travel to Iraq prior to the war to meet with Ba'athist leaders (Sean Penn) and invent specious legal arguments to tie up our war effort in the court system (the ACLU). You can even compare our troops to "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings,"
. In fact, the last of these despicable acts was committed on the floor of the US Senate by a certain Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.
No, by all objective measures, this war is being fought with a degree of tolerance almost unheard of in American history. In any other war prior to Vietnam, Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, and Dick Durbin would all be in jail right now. So would most of my college professors and most journalists. But they're not in jail. Instead, they're shouting from the rooftops that they're being persecuted by the fascist Cheney-Halliburton regime.
Tony Blankley explores the curtialment of civil liberties during the Second World War in his new book, The West's Last Chance
. One chapter in particular, entitled "Saving Democracy 1940's Style" deals specifically with the methods used by the Roosevelt Administration to silence, censor, spy, imprison, and propogandize.
Tony Blankley firmly believes that we should
be fighting the current War on Terror "1940's Style". For the record, I do not. But it is interesting to look back at what was commonly accepted during a time of war, and which few people would criticize, because they recognized the dangers of the Axis powers. To this day, I believe that most Americans don't believe that Roosevelt should have fought the Second World War the way that the ACLU seems to want to fight this one. If we had, we might all be speaking German today.
I understand that many people do not believe America is any great jeopardy. I have made my case for the presence of an existential threat that hangs over our future as a nation and a civilization. In this chapter, I simply want to describe the lengths America was prepared to go to during World War II, when there was a common concensus that the nation was truly in danger. Britain, having no bill of rights, went even further.
During World War II, hundreds of Hollywood's top actors, directors, and producers volunteered their talents to the government to make propoganda films. These directors were not independent artists; their work was closely supervised by government agents. Originally, their intent was to whip up the troops, but eventually most of these films would be shown on the homefront as well. As scholar Paul Fussell wrote about World War II, "The various outlets of popular culture behaved almost entirely as if they were creatures of their governments...they spoke with one voice."
It's hard to imagine any Hollywood director doing the same thing today. If it were ever discovered, in the year 2006, that the government was employing directors to make proganda films, there would be screeches of terror that George W. Bush is approximately equivalent to Joseph Göbbels.
On December 8, 1941, one day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's subsequent entrance into the war, Franklin Delano Roosevelt granted FBI director J. Edgar Hoover the authority to control all communications going into, or out of, the United States.
By February, these guidelines had become more specific. The Office of Censorship (Office of Censorship!)
released "Press Codes" (Press Codes!)
on February 20, 1942. For the duration of the war, all journalists would be forbidden to report on:
1. Reports of air raids
2. The civil, military, industrial, financial, or economic plans of the United States or its allies
3. Criticism of equipment, appearance, physical condition or morale of the armed forces of the United States or any of its allies
4. Any other matter...which might directly or indirectly bring aid or comfort to the enemy , or which might interfere with the national effort, or disparage the foreign relations of the United States or any anti-Axis nations.
Clearly, this is an incredibly broad statute. Remember the endless saga of Abu Ghraib? Wouldn't have happened in World War II. Any editor or reporter who reported on it would have been tried and convicted under the Press Codes. What about the constant (and intentionally misleading) reports of soldiers without body armor? That would fall under rule three of the Press Codes: criticism of equipment. And the term "bring aid and comfort to the enemy" contained in rule four could be interpreted to mean just about everything that the "anti-war" movement has done since September 11, 2001.
Remember Ronald Reagan's comment about Walter Cronkite's coverage of the Tet Offensive? After the Vietnamese communists' major attack on all American fronts, Walter "The Most Trusted Man in America" Cronkite reported that "we are mired in stalemate", and concluded that the war was unwinnable. Just like most journalists I've ever met, he didn't let the truth get in his way. The Tet Offensive was a major military victory for US forces. Yes, we were caught by surprise and took casualties. But when the Vietnamese staged their attack, they were fighting our war. Rather than slinking around in the jungle--a strategy that proved effective most of the time--they decided to stand toe to toe with the United States. It didn't work out well for the communists, and they took tremendous casualties. The Viet Cong, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist from that day forward.
Ronald Reagan later commented that Cronkite would have been arrested on charges of treason, if he were held to standards of World War II. And he was a hundred percent right, as well. Note rule four of the Press Codes: "Any other matter...which might directly or indirectly bring aid or comfort to the enemy , or which might interfere with the national effort..." Clearly, if anyone was "comforted" by Cronkite's demoralizing statements to the American public, it was Ho Chi Mihn and his friends in Beijing and Moscow.
Another interesting footnote to the Press Codes was this tidbit: "The spread of rumors in such a way that they will be accepted as fact will render aid and comfort to the enemy...Equal caution should be used in handling so-called atrocity stories
." (Emphasis added).
Other attemps to gag dissenting voices included censoring Social Justice,
the newspaper of the notorioulsly anti-Semetic Father Coughlin. The newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party was banned out right. 500,000 pieces of private mail were intercepted and held. The Treasury Department confiscated any publication that was suspected of receiving funds from hostile sources.
The scope of the FBI's domestic surveillance program included, according to then-Attornery General Robert Jackson, "steady surveillance over individuals and groups within the United States...which are ready to give assistance or encouragement in any form to invading or opposing ideologies."
During the World War II, President Roosevelt authorized the use of warrantless wiretaps, surreptitious entries, and secretly intercepting and reading private mail without the consent of the addressee. If suspected of disloyalty, naturalized citizens could be stripped of citizenship and deported. And of course, as is well known, there was the internment of Japanese-Americans out of fear that they might sabotage the war effort or give secret signals to the Japanese navy off the coast. Perhaps lesser known--because it was less common, and usually done only to those who warranted some suspicion--is the detention of Italian-Americans and German-Americans. In all, the number of German- and Italian-Americans, either interned or deported, is about fourteen thousand.
The Smith Act of 1940 outlawed sedition, making it a crime to knowingly advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desireability, or propriety of overthrowing the government by force, or to cavort with any organization that did so. Granted, this was passed in 1940--before the American entrance into World War II--but it was done against the backdrop of the Second World War, which began in 1939. Nonethless, it remained in effect throughout the war.
But if Roosevelt's policies seem like an affront to civil liberties, you only have to look eighty years prior to find a president with even less tolerance for dissent. I'm talking about the man on the five dollar bill--Abraham Lincoln. His execution of the Civil War was even fiercer than Roosevelt's execution of World War II.
Lincoln's main resistance to the war on the homefront were the "Copperheads". The Copperheads were northern Democrats who sympathized with the Confederacy and thought that the best course of action was to allow the Southern States to seccede. The term "Copperhead" was given to them by their Republican opponents, but they called themselves "Peace Democrats" instead. Geez...where have heard that term before?
These "Peace Democrats" might better have been called "Sedition Democrats", because that's exactly what they were. They resisted the draft laws and occasionally plotted with agents of the Confederecy to plot insurrections. They called for immediate peace negotiations with Richmond. They encouraged Union soldiers to desert. They denounced the Lincoln Administration for granting wartime contracts to corporations for high profits. They criticized every aspect of Lincoln's wartime policies and accused him of flagrantly violating the Constitution. So you see, not much has changed in the Democratic Party over the last one hundred and forty years. These were the Cindy Sheehans and Ramsey Clarks of the Lincoln era.
Lincoln came down hard on the Copperheads. One of his generals in the field, General Ambrose Burnside declared in his General Order Number 38, "the habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy [would] no longer be tolerated."
Lincoln declared martial law and suspended habeus corpus in Maryland and certain parts of Indiana, an effort obviously aimed at the Copperheads. Lincoln's suspension of habeus corpus seems to be in harmony with the Constitution, which declares that "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus
shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Certainly, "rebellion" was exactly what the South was doing, and exactly what the Copperheads were aiding the enemy in doing.
Throughout the war, Lincoln's federal government round up, and held without trial, thousands of dissenters on no other grounds than that they were dissenting. He ordered federal troops to New York City to put down the mostly-Irish draft riots of 1863. In fact, battle-weary troops who had been previously fighting at Gettysburg were sent in to suppress the rioters.
Lincoln put his feelings most bluntly when he declared, "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged." I assure you, if President Lincoln were our president today, half of the Democratic Party would be at the gallows.
Certainly, I don't agree with President Lincoln. I would have handled things quite differently if I had been the president, but I want to underscore the fact that nothing the current administration is doing to win the War on Terror is unprecedented or particularly brutal. The hippies are in the streets protesting, while screaming at the top of their lungs that you can't protest anymore in Bush's fascist America. Malarky--this is nothing more than "pacifist" groups playing the victim card in order to discredit Bush and the War on Terror. Historically ignorant as they are, they don't realize that Bush's execution of this war is quite mild. Let's take a look at some of the so-called "violations of civil liberties" that we've heard so much about.
First, there are the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, "held without trial" and "in violation of the Geneva Convention". This issue is, of course, what got The Guardian
all upset in the first place. Edward Helmore writes, "Despite George Bush's and US attorney general John Ashcroft's binary world view of friend and foe, many post-September 11 detainees live in a shadow world, denied the full measure of US constitutional rights, and held in custody under a system that will never release nor charge them." You musn't expect a leftist to know anything about the US Constitution--that living breathing document--and it's even more absurd to think that a British leftist (and I assume Mr. Helmore is British) would know anything about the US Constitution.
Yes, the Constitution does say that criminals cannot be held indefinitely without a trial. Of course, the animals down in Guantanamo are not criminals; they're unlawful enemy combatants. If these people had been car thieves caught on the streets of Cleveland, then the liberals might have a case. But they're not--they're members of Al-Qaida and the Taliban captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan. Imagine if every Japanese, German, and Italian soldier had had an ACLU lawyer during World War II. Imagine that he demanded a trial by jury, in which he was given every one of the "rights of the accused" that our American justice system grants. Now imagine that we have to call American soldiers back from the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific to testify that, yes indeed, this is the particular nazi that surrendered to Alpha Company six months ago. And then imagine that he has to be proven guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt, by a twelve-person jury of his "peers"--likely German-Americans, Italian-Americans, and Japanese-Americans. Now imagine that every soldier who was found "not guilty" or simply escaped because of a hung jury or legal technicality, can now return to his homeland and--more than likely--go right back to shooting at Americans.
That is exactly the kind of insanity that the Left proposes that we do today. Even more ridiculous is that they act as if trials for combatants were standard procedure among civilized nations until George W. Bush came along and arrogantly suspended the Constitution. The Guardian
The Washington Post noted that Hamdi's case jeopardizes the essential protection of the justice system: that citizens who can't be charged must be released. "This is a dangerous step...the indefinite detention of American citizends with no charge and no public legal justification is unacceptable," the paper warned.
More great unbiased reporting from The Washington Post.
But of course, they're wrong again--regardless of his citizenship, Hamdi is not a common criminal does not have a right to a trial under the law. He can just sit down there in Guantanamo with all of the other terrorists until the end of the War on Terror. That may be a very, very, long time, but I really don't care.
When liberals aren't trying to secure undeserved constitutional rights for terrorists, they're trying to shove the Geneva Convention down our throats. Once again, it is inapplicable. The protections of the Geneva Convention apply to combatants who meet the following criteria: they must belong to an organized army with a fixed insignia recognizable at a distance, they must have a superior officer who is accountable for their behavior, and they must wear a uniform. The terrorists at Guantanamo fit none of these criteria, and are thus not protected by the Geneva Convention. Sorry, but they won't be getting their eight Swiss Francs guaranteed to them under the Geneva Conventions.
So liberals are wrong on both points. They want the lunatics we captured in Afghanistan to have all the rights of the US Constitution and the Geneva Convention, when in fact they're covered by neither. Clearly, there is no violation of anyone's "civil liberties" here.
Other civil liberties "violations" frequently cited by liberals are contained in USA Patriot Act. One provision allows law enforcement to look through the email of private citizens and another allows them to look at library records to see what books a person may have checked out.
The email provision is a little tricky. Obviously, there was no such thing as email when the Bill of Rights was written in 1789. For the record, the pertinent amendment in this situation if the Fourth, which reads "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrant issued, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
There is some wiggle room in the Fourth Amendment. First, it is harldy an "unreasonable" search to snoop through the email of a suspected al-Qaeda leader. Second, this is once again, clearly aimed at common criminals, not hostile terror organizations that have committed acts of war against us. Our current conflict is not a mere matter of law enforcement, and people who are plotting terrorist attacks in the United States, as agents of foreign terrorist organizations--perhaps even funded by foreign governments--are a different matter than busting a drug cartel or a prostitution ring. Even if the liberals are correct on this one--that this is a real violation of civil liberties--their outrage is still a little over the top. To say that the US is becoming a "police state" because the FBI is reading al-Qaeda's hotmail is a bit of an exaggeration. If they're really so concerned about it, then let's amend the USA Patriot Act and get back to the business of hunting terrorists. Sadly, I fear that this is a sly attempt, draped in the flag and under the guise of "civil liberties", to undermine the War on Terror.
The Left provides an even weaker case when it comes to library books. So law enforcement agencies can find out if a certain person has been checking out books on crop-dusting or biological warfare agents--so what? I'm not sure why that's a violation of anyone's civil liberties. After all, the books themselves do not belong to the person checking them out, but rather to the library. Similarly, the library records are also the property of the library, and the library is a government institution. It would be like saying that the government can't look at the records of the government. This particular "civil liberties" violation does not hold water.
And the examples go on. In most cases, the "civil libertarian" Left doesn't have a leg to stand on. Their assertions are ignorant, foney, and contrived. At very least, they are nominal violations of civil liberties that have been violated by other "fascistic" presidents, Lincoln and Roosevelt.