When law is not enough

Weir thinking about it

As American troops fight the battle against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, how can we protect ourselves from the enemy that lives among us? It is often said that we must not become tyrannical concerning the methods we use to keep us safe. For example, we shouldn't detain people at airports simply because they appear to be of Middle Eastern descent; we shouldn't put a moratorium on immigration in order to lessen the possibility of allowing additional enemies to infiltrate our land; and we shouldn't use force to extract confessions from known terrorists who may have information that could save lives.

Of course, those are the kinds of values we have incorporated into our system of government. Therefore, to violate same, many people say, would mean the terrorists have won.

However, one could also say, if we don't do everything humanly possible to protect our country from the menace that has gripped us, the terrorists will win anyway. This is not to say that we're in a catch—22 situation. On the contrary, we're in a situation that requires sound judgment, common sense, and the realization that we are in a war with people who don't take prisoners. Obviously, they are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to take a lot of us with them.

Winning a terrorist war against people who are willing to die for their cause is not going to be an exercise in diplomacy, nor is it for the squeamish. We're dealing with a well—trained group of suicidal zealots who have been indoctrinated to believe that they will go to Heaven if they murder 'the American infidels.' In their unilateral view of the world, Western civilization must be destroyed. Indeed, if they had the wherewithal to blanket our country with neutron bombs today, we'd very likely soon have the odor of decomposing flesh in our nostrils, if we were alive to smell it.

So, with all of that said, what would the average citizen be willing to do to rid us of this deadly infestation? Suppose you knew for a fact that your family were in imminent danger of being murdered by allies of the terrorists we currently have in our jails. Suppose, further, that you knew a confession from the prisoners would save the lives of your family. Would you be willing to have the authorities use torture to force confessions? Leave aside the controversy over whether or not torture works at extracting the truth, and assume that certain techniques do. If your answer is no, then you evidently think it's more noble to allow your family to suffer and die, than it is to inflict pain upon your enemies. As far as I'm concerned that's not nobility, it's stupidity. Worse, it's a flawed philosophy that jeopardizes our attempts to withstand the threat to our survival.

Yes, we are a country of laws, and those laws are meant to keep us safe, while at the same time keeping us from becoming a dictatorship. But no law or system of laws is perfect. The mass murder of September 11 should have taught us that our immigration policies, and the security at our borders and airports, have become much too liberal. Without a doubt, most of the relatives of the victims wish we had been tougher and less politically correct when it came to security concerns.

We can't do anything for those who have perished in the recent terror attacks, but we can do whatever it takes to prevent any further incendiary consequences. That's why we must begin to prepare ourselves to consider using methods hitherto defined as torture, even as barbaric. Someone once said: It's better to let 100 murderers go free, than to convict one innocent person. That may get a round of applause at an ACLU meeting or at an American Bar Association dinner, but in the real world it's an asinine comment. It should be patently obvious to any sensible person that a hundred killers on the loose are infinitely more dangerous to society than one person incarcerated because the system failed him. These pious proclamations are usually uttered by affluent liberals who live in gated communities and doorman—protected high security apartments, where the danger of roaming murders is considerably less than in the slums of our cities.

Yet, we are continually inundated with well—meaning phrases and polite niceties that have no relevance to the war against terrorism. The reality is that people get accustomed to using gentle—sounding words and pithy expressions that describe their sensitivity, but when it becomes personal, they are loath to risk everything to defend a dubious principle. Only when it's happening to the other guy's family in that city over a thousand miles away do they feel enough detachment to speak magnanimously about the appropriate reaction to the slaughter.

In other words, it's easy to be generous with your sympathy toward the arsonist when the other guy's house is on fire. Picture this: there's a guy in police custody who knows the location of a bomb that's set to explode in an elementary school building that holds 500 children. Threats and intimidation have failed to make him reveal the address of the school and the location of the device. You think that a certain interrogation technique defined as torture would loosen his tongue and save all those innocent lives. What would you do? C'mon, the clock is ticking. Make a decision. Five hundred little helpless children against the life of some murderous creature who corrupts the atmosphere of life with every breath he takes. Should you think lofty thoughts about the slippery slope toward totalitarianism, should you quote the Constitution, chapter and verse, or should you beat the bejeebers out of the scumbag until he fesses up? Which course of action is most noble? You decide. 

Bob Weir is the Editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com

Weir thinking about it

As American troops fight the battle against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, how can we protect ourselves from the enemy that lives among us? It is often said that we must not become tyrannical concerning the methods we use to keep us safe. For example, we shouldn't detain people at airports simply because they appear to be of Middle Eastern descent; we shouldn't put a moratorium on immigration in order to lessen the possibility of allowing additional enemies to infiltrate our land; and we shouldn't use force to extract confessions from known terrorists who may have information that could save lives.

Of course, those are the kinds of values we have incorporated into our system of government. Therefore, to violate same, many people say, would mean the terrorists have won.

However, one could also say, if we don't do everything humanly possible to protect our country from the menace that has gripped us, the terrorists will win anyway. This is not to say that we're in a catch—22 situation. On the contrary, we're in a situation that requires sound judgment, common sense, and the realization that we are in a war with people who don't take prisoners. Obviously, they are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to take a lot of us with them.

Winning a terrorist war against people who are willing to die for their cause is not going to be an exercise in diplomacy, nor is it for the squeamish. We're dealing with a well—trained group of suicidal zealots who have been indoctrinated to believe that they will go to Heaven if they murder 'the American infidels.' In their unilateral view of the world, Western civilization must be destroyed. Indeed, if they had the wherewithal to blanket our country with neutron bombs today, we'd very likely soon have the odor of decomposing flesh in our nostrils, if we were alive to smell it.

So, with all of that said, what would the average citizen be willing to do to rid us of this deadly infestation? Suppose you knew for a fact that your family were in imminent danger of being murdered by allies of the terrorists we currently have in our jails. Suppose, further, that you knew a confession from the prisoners would save the lives of your family. Would you be willing to have the authorities use torture to force confessions? Leave aside the controversy over whether or not torture works at extracting the truth, and assume that certain techniques do. If your answer is no, then you evidently think it's more noble to allow your family to suffer and die, than it is to inflict pain upon your enemies. As far as I'm concerned that's not nobility, it's stupidity. Worse, it's a flawed philosophy that jeopardizes our attempts to withstand the threat to our survival.

Yes, we are a country of laws, and those laws are meant to keep us safe, while at the same time keeping us from becoming a dictatorship. But no law or system of laws is perfect. The mass murder of September 11 should have taught us that our immigration policies, and the security at our borders and airports, have become much too liberal. Without a doubt, most of the relatives of the victims wish we had been tougher and less politically correct when it came to security concerns.

We can't do anything for those who have perished in the recent terror attacks, but we can do whatever it takes to prevent any further incendiary consequences. That's why we must begin to prepare ourselves to consider using methods hitherto defined as torture, even as barbaric. Someone once said: It's better to let 100 murderers go free, than to convict one innocent person. That may get a round of applause at an ACLU meeting or at an American Bar Association dinner, but in the real world it's an asinine comment. It should be patently obvious to any sensible person that a hundred killers on the loose are infinitely more dangerous to society than one person incarcerated because the system failed him. These pious proclamations are usually uttered by affluent liberals who live in gated communities and doorman—protected high security apartments, where the danger of roaming murders is considerably less than in the slums of our cities.

Yet, we are continually inundated with well—meaning phrases and polite niceties that have no relevance to the war against terrorism. The reality is that people get accustomed to using gentle—sounding words and pithy expressions that describe their sensitivity, but when it becomes personal, they are loath to risk everything to defend a dubious principle. Only when it's happening to the other guy's family in that city over a thousand miles away do they feel enough detachment to speak magnanimously about the appropriate reaction to the slaughter.

In other words, it's easy to be generous with your sympathy toward the arsonist when the other guy's house is on fire. Picture this: there's a guy in police custody who knows the location of a bomb that's set to explode in an elementary school building that holds 500 children. Threats and intimidation have failed to make him reveal the address of the school and the location of the device. You think that a certain interrogation technique defined as torture would loosen his tongue and save all those innocent lives. What would you do? C'mon, the clock is ticking. Make a decision. Five hundred little helpless children against the life of some murderous creature who corrupts the atmosphere of life with every breath he takes. Should you think lofty thoughts about the slippery slope toward totalitarianism, should you quote the Constitution, chapter and verse, or should you beat the bejeebers out of the scumbag until he fesses up? Which course of action is most noble? You decide. 

Bob Weir is the Editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com