Keep America Scared

March 10, 2010

Are there two individuals more important to Al Qaeda’s agenda anywhere on the planet than Dick Cheney or his daughter Liz?

As frightening as the specter of terrorism undoubtedly is, there is no danger that terrorists will ever seize control of our cities or our government. There is no likelihood that terrorists will kill as many Americans next year as drunk drivers, heart disease or depression.

Al Qaeda only poses a meaningful threat to our way of life if we give in to our fear and change it ourselves. That is precisely what the Keep America Safe Foundation would have us do. They seem to forget that there is more to America than just a flag and rousing patriotic music. America is free speech, the rule of law, and inalienable human rights.

We cannot call ourselves the land of the free if we lock up individuals without trial on the basis of secret intelligence. You don’t trust the government to run healthcare? Why on earth would you trust it to effectively evaluate rumor, gossip and innuendo from half a world away?

We cannot call ourselves the land of the free if we torture people. You don’t think waterboarding is torture? The Spanish Inquisition, the Nazi Gestapo, French colonial forces in Algeria, Stalin’s NKVD, and the Japanese Kempeitai all waterboarded prisoners. Look around at the company you are keeping.

We cannot call ourselves the land of the free if we stigmatize lawyers for defending criminal suspects – no matter what they are charged with. You can’t have fair trials if only one side turns up in court.

Terrorist strategists know that they lack the military power to overcome their enemies and their campaign is not intended to engage and defeat our armed forces. Rather they are engaged in a form of political jujitsu designed to turn our own strength against us.

Terrorists seek to imprison us in a prison of our own making and in Dick and Liz Cheney they have found the perfect jailors. Terrorists rely on message generators to spread their amped up message of fear and terror. The Cheneys have embraced this role.

Terrorists are usually forced to rely on jihadist websites, radical preachers, and grainy YouTube videos to try to intimidate their opponents but when the Keep America Safe Foundation stepped up to the plate Al Qaeda lucked out. Bin Laden could not buy the kind of publicity that this Foundation gives him free of charge.

These 21st Century know nothings see political advantage in inflating the threat posed by Al Qaeda and investing bin Laden and his gang of criminals with a significance and mystique they do not deserve. In doing so, they have become Al Qaeda’s unwitting fifth column undermining American society from within with their new brand of McCarthyism.

The constitution is no mere scrap of paper. It is the foundation on which America is built. The values enshrined in this document by the founding fathers – who, let’s not forget, included a lawyer who defended enemy soldiers and a General who refused to torture – are what make this country the envy of the world.

If we turn our back on the constitution, we turn our back on America.

In a recent interview on Meet the Press General David Petraeus described Guanatanamo, Abu Garaib, and the kind of “non-biodegradable” counterterrorism tactics embraced by the Keep America Safe Foundation as a stick the enemy can continually beat you with.

I don’t know about you but I would rather get my counterterrorism advice from a real frontline commander with years of field experience than a couple of beltway bandits who have never served in so much as a forward area.

Wake up America. It’s not about Al Qaeda. It is about us. It is about the kind of country we want to live in; whether we want to walk tall or cower in our bunkers. We can be that city on a shining hill envisaged by the founding fathers, or we can listen to the Keep America Safe Foundation and destroy this country to save it.