Friday, April 21, 2006

Should Some of Our Liberty Be Sacrificed for Security?

In a press release promoting an upcoming talk on "Government Secrecy and Privacy" by Michael Arcuri at SUNY Cortland, Arcuri is quoted as saying

"The Fourth Amendment recognizes the ‘right of the people to be secure in their persons … against unreasonable searches’ unless there is a showing of probable cause, but this concept must be balanced with the protection of the security of our citizens. It is imperative that, in our attempt to keep our nation safe, we not sacrifice the liberty of our citizens."


I'm trying to assess where Arcuri really stands on the issue of preserving civil liberties, but, based on this statement I can't really work it out.

On the one hand, Arcuri says that we must not sacrifice the liberty of our citizens. Yet, in the previous sentence, Arcuri suggests that freedom from unreasonable search and seizure must be limited according to the needs of security.

So which is it?

Furthermore, where in the United States Constitution or its amendments does it say that the liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights should be "balanced" [translation: reduced] in order to make people feel secure?

Almost five years after the current security panic began, I'm getting sick of hearing about how our liberties need to be "balanced" [translation: respected only when it's convenient to those in power] with the demands of security. Liberty is not liberty if it exists only when the going is easy.

We have seen what the Republicans believe to be the proper "balance" between liberty and security. We have had imprisonment of American citizens without recognition of habeas corpus rights, much less respect for the right to legal representation and a trial. We have seen a striking pattern of purposeful, illegal torture implemented by our government around the world. We have seen, not just the warrantless wiretapping by the NSA, but also the development of multiple programs to spy against nonviolent American political dissidents by agents of the FBI and the military, as well as through local law enforcement officers. We have also seen the development of a gigantic computer database used to track the legal, private activities of law-abiding Americans. In spite of assurances that Total Information Awareness was shut down, internal sources now indicate that the program was merely moved into the NSA, and given new code names, such as "basketball".

All these programs to violate our liberty were held as secrets by the Bush White House. What other similar programs have we yet to discover? People with a lot more legal expertise than me are calling the current attacks against our basic liberties a Constitutional crisis.

In short, those who argue that our liberties must be "balanced" [translation: tossed aside] against security needs have zero credibility. Every time that such balance has been proposed, true balance has been lost.

The American system of democratic powers depends upon the stable balance that is created through strict adherence to standards of liberty. It is when we begin to make exceptions to constitutional guarantees of liberty that our nation teeters out of balance.

I hope that Mike Arcuri reconsiders his use of the claim that liberty must be balanced against security. The concept is a Republican one, through and through, and it enables the Republican frame on political language. Any Democrat who accepts that frame will lose the debate against a Republican opponent, because it is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who are popularly associated with security.

Would Michael Arcuri make a similar claim as District Attorney, that the civil rights of criminal defendants must be balanced against the need to rid the streets of crime? Of course not. Everyone would understand that such statements are unacceptable.

What applies on the local level applies on the national level. The law is the law. The Constitution says what the Constitution says. There shall be no unreasonable searches and seizures. Period.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Les dropped out of the race yet or is that next week?

Anonymous said...

Mike know anything about issues yet, or is that next week?

Norway said...

10:50--It continually surprises me this political season how many people don't believe in the primary process. Why is that? Too democratic with a small "d"? Rather have the DCCCosa Nostra choose your candidate? Less work for you, it's true. Sad, really. Gotta say, I kinda liked Arcuri till I started reading some of the comments from his supporters here (and realized he had no platform).

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Les, whats he up to these days? I mean I never see anything about him on this blog hardly at all anymore, it's all filled up with Mike Arcuri. Except for this blog and Jons other blogs its like the guy disappeared or something. I see national articles about the 24th race and they dont even mention the guy.

Anonymous said...

Jon - I'm starting to accept the fact that our best and our brightest seem to have all left. I'd be interested to know if you have received any phone calls from Mike Arcuri or if you have tried to call him. His supporters seem to be on the disadvantaged side of the intelligence Bell Curve.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you resurrect Abby Hoffman or some other major old hippy to run because that is the only type of person who would satisfy you reactionaries anyways. Then we could all dance in the street together naked.

Anonymous said...

3:36 - Abby Hoffman a reactionary? Ok, I accept the education system has been failing us too. Which candidate has a good plan to improve it? Does it include remedial education for the slightly older set who didn't get a good education recently?

Anonymous said...

Heads up Utica - you are not the center of the universe nor the center of the district. But clearly, on this blog, the center of tiny minds.
What happened to Roberts?
Front page article about him in the Ithaca Journal this week, more articles and TV coverage on the Citizen Action Healthcare Forum he spoke at. There are numorous articles on the internet as well. The world of news extends much farther than the Utica OD.
I too wonder if Arcuri is aware of what his staff is writing on this blog. It only has served to make people like myself turn to Roberts and see why he is the obvious choice. Leaders are judged by the people they surround themselves with.....

Anonymous said...

2:56 thanks for your input. I promise to give it all the weight I think it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Listen I don't hold adolescent slingshot remarks against you two Roberts people. I realize that on your budget sticks and stones is all you can afford. Toward the end, I fully expect you to poke out your lower lips and say my mother wears combat boots. But remember, you should be happy I stop by. It helps you avoid talking to yourselves and answering yourselves in different voices.

Anonymous said...

8:05 PM.....

why do you assume that people from his staff write the dumb things on here?

Anonymous said...

11:01 :

http://www.theithacajournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060314/NEWS01/603140322/1002

Got a few more newspapers if you don't like the Ithaca paper. Let me know.

Anonymous said...

1:34 - this is a platform?

?The War in Iraq: Arcuri said the United States needed to set benchmarks to assess progress, such as how many schools have opened. He said keeping troops in the country until democracy was achieved was too subjective."

Ok, exactly how many schools is enough?

Norway said...

1:34 Yes, thanks, saw this. Saw the Utica O-D. Saw MA's website, which pretty much just echoes the Utica O-D's mindless list of fringe issues. Still waiting. Maybe he's better in person.

I'm pretty sure Meier will have a platform. I'm pretty sure I'll hate it.

Anonymous said...

Meier must lose. This is a must. We must get rid of this man. Everything he has touched has gone downhill. Oneida County has been ravished during his tenure as state senator. Ravished. Put him in congress and see more of this. We all really have to remember this after this primary is over. No kidding.