Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
March 8, 2005
Why do so many Americans think that "homeland security" means what they think it means?
Americans have learned the painful lesson that what "is" going on in politics and government these days all too often depends upon the secret, idiosyncratic definitions of "is", and many other words, that politicians and public officials are using. Of course, if a public official says something that he knows people will think means X, when in his own mind he means Y, he is lying. But such verbal legerdemain is difficult to expose, because the deceitful officeholder can always defend his statement as being literally true. Americans must therefore be perpetually on their guard to parse every sentence, phrase, and even noun and verb that politicians and public officials employ, searching for the hidden meanings lurking among the letters.
This problem of differentiating between the sound of what members of the political class intone and the sense of what they really intend is nowhere more critical than in the matter of "homeland security". Too many people, however, naively accept this term at face value, without asking the vital, probing questions: What "security"? and Whose "security"?
If the "homeland" is the United States of America, then obviously her "security" is defined by her Constitution, because there cannot be security without law, and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Just as obviously, those who are to benefit from that security are the authors of the Constitution and their descendants: We the People.
The essentials of America’s true, historic "homeland security" are to be found in the Preamble to the Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Preamble is more than an exhortation. It is neither a mere "wish list" nor a set of dispensable options. The Preamble is a statement of political purpose, a legal mandate and requirement, and a strict rule of interpretation. All the powers and disabilities (that is, absences of power) that follow in the body of the Constitution are to be construed in light of, and to be employed so as to advance, all of the goals the Preamble sets forth, not to thwart, subvert, or ignore any of them. That all of the goals are of equal importance and to be achieved simultaneously the Preamble makes clear in its use of the conjunction "and".