Our second College Civil Liberties Tour kicks off this Monday, October 15, in Seattle. Then, we’re off to Davis, California, and San Diego. Then on to Tucson. And then we wrap it up in Boulder.
We are psyched!
A supporter called me this week from California to ask whether the events were open to the public. (They are, and admission is free.) He asked whether the format entailed a debate between a libertarian, a liberal, and a conservative on the issues of civil liberties, the war on terrorism, and foreign policy.
I explained that the program is not a debate. On the contrary, while the three of us on the panels naturally have our disagreements on various domestic issues and political or economic philosophy, we are on the same page when it comes to civil liberties, the war on terrorism, and foreign policy.
All three of us — Glenn Greenwald (the liberal), Bruce Fein (the conservative), and I (the libertarian) — believe that these three issues are the most important issues facing our country in our lifetime. As important as other issues are, none of them comes close to matching the threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people.
Owing to 9/11, the federal government now wields the same direct, omnipotent power that the greatest dictatorships in history have wielded. These include the power of the military to seize American citizens (and foreigners) without judicially issued warrants, cart them away to concentration camps or military dungeons, torture them, and execute them, perhaps after a kangaroo military tribunal. It also now has the omnipotent power to assassinate Americans and foreigners with impunity. Its powers also extend to spying on people and closely monitoring their activities.
All they have to say to employ such extraordinary powers is allege that their target is involved in terrorism.
That was not what the Framers had in mind when they called the federal government into existence with the Constitution. On the contrary, it was what they assured Americans would never happen in our country. The Constitution certainly did not include such extraordinary powers within the list of enumerated powers. Equally important, such powers were expressly prohibited by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution.
Nonetheless, there has been a fundamental reordering of our constitutional system, one in which the federal government now wields these extraordinary powers, at least in cases purporting to involve terrorism — the same powers that are wielded by such dictatorial regimes as Egypt (which the U.S. government has long supported with cash and weaponry), North Korea, and communist China.
They tell us that the assumption of these “emergency” powers was necessary because of 9/11. But where in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights does it say that a terrorist attack — or any “emergency” for that matter — gives rise to the government’s assumption of extraordinary, dictatorial powers?
Answer: Nowhere! U.S. officials, including the president, the CIA and the military, simply used the 9/11 attacks to formally assume powers that they had long embraced and supported in pro-U.S. foreign dictatorships, such as the military dictatorships in Chile under Pinochet, Iran under the shah, and Egypt under Mubarak.
Equally important, let’s not forget the root cause of 9/11, along with other acts of terrorism, such as the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole. That root cause is not a general hatred for America’s “freedom and values,” as U.S. officials so desperately maintained after 9/11.
Instead, the root cause of the anger and hatred that people around the world have for the United States is the U.S. government’s foreign policy — its imperialism, interventionism, sanctions, embargoes, foreign aid, invasions, occupations, Gitmo, denial of due process, denial of trial by jury, denial of speedy trial, torture, rendition, kidnapping, killing, maiming, humiliating, destroying, arrogance, pomposity, and humiliating people.
So, the U.S. government goes abroad and does bad things to people. The victims retaliate out of anger and hatred with terrorist strikes. The government uses the terrorist strikes to assume extraordinary dictatorial powers over the American people.
Some Americans have come to accept all this. Even worse, they are willing to accept it all as permanent. They have become fearful, weak, submissive, and compliant. They’re willing to trade away their freedom for the pretense of security for the rest of their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren. Owing to their insatiable thirst for safety, they are willing to let there be a fundamental and permanent reordering of our constitutional system, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment.
But not everyone is willing to do that. There are libertarians, liberals, and conservatives who continue to defend the founding principles of our country. Greenwald, Fein, and I (and Jack Hunter, the moderator for our panels) are among them.
The type of system under which we are now living is not normal. It is aberrant. And it is unnecessary.
Can we restore a free society to our land? You bet we can. And the way we do it is with sound ideas on liberty, ideals, and principles.
Which bring us back to our upcoming College Civil Liberties Tour, which is being co-sponsored by the Young Americans for Liberty.
We all know that young people, by their very nature, are still infused with ideals and with the importance of ideas and principles in life. With their infectious passion and enthusiasm, young people can be the catalyst for fundamental change in a society.
With our panels, we are bringing to young people the vital importance of civil liberties to a free society and the urgency of restoring freedom principles to our land. By bringing libertarian, liberal, and conservative presenters to these campus events, we aim to demonstrate to these young people that it doesn’t matter what their ideological perspective is — that these principles are of vital importance regardless of a person’s ideological perspective.
We will be live-streaming all of the events with a professional videographer. To access the links to each event, just go to this link.
We’ll also be archiving the videos for everyone to access later.
If you’re in any of these areas, we’d love to have you join us, along with your family and friends. There usually is a social hour after the event. It would be great to have you interacting with the college students.
Remember: Ideas have consequences. Ideas change the world. That’s what FFF is all about — changing the world for the better through the power of ideas. That’s what we’re aiming to do with our College Civil Liberties Tour.
Here is the schedule for the tour:
Monday, October 15, 2012 Seattle, Washington University of Washington Smith Hall 120 Doors at 6:00 p.m. – Panel from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 Davis, California University of California – Davis 1002 Geidt Hall Doors at 6:30 p.m. – Panel from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 San Diego, California University of California – San Diego Student Services Center – Multi-Purpose Room Doors at 6:00 p.m. – Panel from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 18, 2012 Tucson, Arizona University of Arizona CESL 103 Doors at 6:00 p.m. – Panel from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Friday, October 19, 2012 Boulder, Colorado University of Colorado – Boulder Humanities 1B50 Doors at 6:00 p.m. – Panel from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.