Rand Paul: A Profile in Courage
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Yesterday, thanks to the heroic efforts of Sen. Rand Paul, the Patriot Act automatically expired. Yes, you read that right. No reform of the Patriot Act. Just termination.
In case you’re wondering, the United States hasn’t fallen into the ocean and the federal government, including the IRS, has not fallen to the terrorists.
Of course, that hasn’t caused the fear-mongering that led up to the demise of the Patriot Act to diminish. U.S. officials, from President Obama on down, are still desperately pleading with Congress to enact some type of Patriot Act reform. Even James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence who previously lied under oath to Congress, is sounding the “terrorists-are-coming-to-get-us” alarm. “At this late date,” Clapper said, “prompt passage of the USA Freedom Act by the Senate is the best way to minimize any possible disruption of our ability to protect the American people.”
The U.S. Freedom Act is the reform of the Patriot Act that Obama, Clapper, and other warfare statists wanted. But Rand Paul would have no part of it. Let the Patriot Act expire — without reform — was his position.
As everyone who is familiar with FFF knows, that’s our kind of language—abolition, repeal, dismantling, and termination. Reform of welfare-warfare state programs is a fool’s game, one that leaves the welfare-warfare state intact. The only way to restore our freedom is by abolishing, not reforming, welfare-warfare state programs.
The Patriot Act and the U.S. Freedom Act are two of the most anti-American schemes in U.S. history. Both schemes would fit in perfectly in any totalitarian regime. Moreover, employing fearmongering is a time-honored strategy of totalitarian regimes to scare people into trading away their freedom for the pretense of security.
Think back to the Hitler regime. What did Hitler do after the terrorist attack on the Reichstag building? He immediately asked the German parliament to give him “temporary” emergency powers to deal with the terrorist threat — as well as the communist threat that he said was emanating from the Soviet Union. Germany’s “national security,” Hitler screamed, was threatened. If he wasn’t granted emergency powers, Germany might well fall to the terrorists and the communists. As everyone knows, the German government ended up with a massive surveillance scheme over the German people. That’s what the Gestapo was all about.
Take a look at this fantastic article by Ariel Dorfman in last Saturday’s Los Angeles Times. He talks about the (U.S.-supported) military coup that took place in Chile in 1973. Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet and his goons rounded up some 40,000 people, tortured and raped many of them, and killed some 3,000 of them. Their crime? Nothing more than believing in socialism or communism. Pinochet, like Hitler, justified his totalitarian actions in the name of protecting the country from communism. In his moving article, Dorfman describes what it was like living under a dictatorial regime, one that closely monitored people’s activities in the name of “national security” and keeping people safe from the communists.
Consider Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. As soon as President Obama declared Venezuela a threat to U.S. “national security” (fearmongering that itself was an excuse for Obama to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials), Maduro used the imminent threat of a U.S. attack on his country as a way to get people all riled up and scared so that they would support his assumption of extraordinary emergency powers.
This is what government officials who thirst for ever-more power do. It’s what they always have done. They seize upon a crisis and use it to frighten the people so that the people will support the assumption of dictatorial powers.
In fact, fear has been the coin of the realm of the U.S. national-security state apparatus since the day it was grafted onto America’s governmental system after World War II. Warfare statists knew that if they were to have any chance of garnering the support of the American people for this revolutionary transformation of America’s constitutional governmental system, they had to make them afraid — very afraid.
So, they took Hitler’s enemy (and America’s partner and ally) — the Soviet Union — and converted it into America’s new postwar official enemy, scaring the American people into believing that the communists were coming to get them. Just read any of the fearmongering pronouncements regarding terrorism today and substitute “communism” for “terrorism,” and you’ll get a good sense of what Americans had to hear through the many decades of the Cold War.
The pathetic part of all this is that after the U.S. government lost the Soviet Union as its official enemy in 1989, it proceeded to initiate interventionist policies in the Middle East that gave rise to the anger and hatred that ultimately manifested itself with anti-American terrorist retaliation. U.S. officials then used that threat of retaliation to assume totalitarian-like powers, including the Patriot Act, in order to “keep us safe” — safe from the very threats that their interventionist policies produce.
How’s that for a racket, one that conveniently keeps the entire military empire, CIA, and NSA and their armies of contractors and sub-contractors in high cotton?
Foreign interventionism should be treated the same way as the Patriot Act: End it, don’t reform it. Absent that, don’t take away my freedom in the purported attempt to keep me safe from the enemies the interventionist policies are producing. I’ll take my chances with the terrorists. I’d rather live and die a free man than a coddled, watched-over serf.
Rand Paul deserves the credit of every freedom-loving American for not falling for the reform game that unfortunately afflicts the conservative movement. Obviously not concerned about how the mainstream media, the Republican Party, and the Washington establishment would perceive his no-reform, abolitionist position, Paul stood his ground. A real profile in courage. The result is the demise of the Patriot Act, one of the most unpatriotic laws that has ever been enacted in the history of the United States.
Wouldn’t it be great if the end of the Patriot Act was just the start of the dismantling of the entire Cold War-era national-security state apparatus?