Democrats & Liberals Archives

What is the price? What is the risk?

Would you support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic?

Is your love of America grounded in the love of the principles embodied by the Constitution?

Would you risk your safety in defense of the Bill of Rights?

How many lives is defending the Constitution worth?

How great a risk is too great? 1 in 300 million? 1 in 30 million? 1 in 3 million?

President Bush believes that sending our soldiers to fight and die in Iraq is defending the U.S. and worth the risk. 1000 dead (if you include contractors). That's about 1 in 300,000. But that is against a foreign threat. What about a domestic threat?

What is a domestic threat against the Constitution? When our government asks us to give up just a few of our rights in order to reduce our risk, is it asking too much? In the past, the Republicans wouldn't have agreed. They were the party of assumed risk and responsibility. Injured by a product? Hey, that's life. Scalded by a superheated cup of coffee? Don't go looking to trial lawyers for compensation or justice.

Scared by the risk of Terrorism? Oh! "Don't worry!" says papa Bush, Ashcroft, Ridge, Cheney and Rummy. Just let us increase the power of the federal government and it will protect you. Because you know, those rascals are planning something. Something big. We don't know where, we don't know when, we don't know how. But it could kill you.

In just the past 5 years, 3000 people have been killed by Terrorists on American soil. That averages out to 600 deaths a year. Or an incredible risk to you of 1 in 500,000. And George W. Bush knows that that risk is to high for you. You are not willing to support and defend the Constitution if the risk is that high... Are you? Are you willing to trade the financial health of the Country along with the Bill of Rights in order to reduce that risk below 1 in 500,000?

Is it really possible for the government to lower that risk any more?

Living in the Washington D.C. area, I may have a slightly different perspective on what was the most terrorizing terrorist incident of the past three years. If you worked in the Pentagon, 9/11 definitely ranks at the top. If you worked in the post office, it would be the Anthrax letters. But for the majority of the metro area, it was the sniper.

Sure 9/11 was scary. But it was over in a day, and most of us just watched it on T.V. The sniper, however, stayed with us, every day for weeks. He changed our behavior. We didn't go to Home Depot. We stayed away from gas stations near highways. Our kidsí outdoor activities were canceled. We were terrorized.
The government couldn't protect us. It took weeks of hard detective work from the police and FBI before they were apprehended.

The scariest of all, was how simple it was. Two men, one rifle, one car. I'm still amazed we haven't had a copy cat.

Terrifying? Yes. Risky to go outside for a walk? No. During that same time more people died in the area from traffic accidents than the sniper.

Could Al Quada use that same tactic? Sure. All they have to do is get a shooter, a rifle and a car. The fact that they haven't should tell us something about their capability to operate in this country. They blew up all their local assets on 9/11.

Through all the fear, it is easy to lose track of how simple 9/11 was: five men per plane with box cutters. The defense would have been so easy. If the FAA had just ordered secure cockpit doors, 9/11 wouldn't have happened. What is the risk of the same thing happening now? Can you imagine a pilot opening the cockpit door before landing, regardless of how many passengers are being killed? Would the passengers sit still for it? No, the risk of that tactic being used successfully again is quite small. Even without all the extra screening, security, and confiscation of pocket knives and toe nail clippers.

The risks are small, but the cost of liberty is high. Are you willing to trade?

The administration likes to point out the nuclear, chemical or biological boogiemen. But those capabilities donít just appear out of thin air. They take knowledge, industry and practice. If we use our resources wisely, and grow allies and goodwill worldwide, that boogieman wonít take us by surprise.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Because in succumbing to that fear, we give up the very thing we are trying to defend.

Posted by Al Maline at July 31, 2004 2:40 PM