James Madison, father of the Constitution, warned, “The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become instruments of tyranny at home.” Abraham Lincoln had similar thoughts, saying, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
During war, there has always been a struggle to preserve constitutional liberties. During the Civil War, the right of habeas corpus was suspended. Newspapers were closed. Fortunately, those actions were reversed after the war.
The discussion now to suspend certain rights to due process is especially worrisome, given that we are engaged in a war that appears to have no end. Rights given up now cannot be expected to be returned. So we do well to contemplate the diminishment of due process, knowing that the rights we lose now may never be restored.
My well-intentioned colleagues ignore these admonitions in defending provisions of the 2012 defense authorization bill pertaining to detaining suspected terrorists.