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For your liberty!
James Eyer
Candidate for U.S. Congress District 9
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Position Statement: War On Terrorism

Situation

Since 9/11 our Congress, President and Attorney General have assumed unparalleled powers in the name of safety at the expense of our freedom.

Our leaders are unwilling to tell us how -- specifically -- our security is improved by these new agencies and government's new authority to declare anyone be a terrorist for a widening array of activities, to monitor everyone's email messages, to detain people secretly, and many other new powers.

Furthermore, there are no specific provisions for future review of these new powers to gauge their effectiveness or unintended consequences.

And of course there are many strong indications that the government failed to use existing means already at their disposal to protect us. Specifically, our government did not react well to what – in retrospect of course – seems like obvious intelligence that was in-hand from existing sources.

The failure was related to a range of factors such as turf protection, interagency rivalries, too little communication, miscommunication, butt-covering, poor leadership, complacency, negligence, groupthink, and incompetence, along with outdated technology and data overload.

It is not clear that new government powers and agencies will make matters better. Nonetheless, the administration’s strategy to address the many inter-related problems places heavy emphasis on expanding the invasive powers of government rather than emphasizing preservation of liberty or government agencies’ effectiveness.

We must require that our leaders focus on the ultimate purpose for our federal government: to preserve citizens’ liberty. And though our federal government's mission is not to "get the terrorists," the government's role does include defense against foreign enemies, including terrorists.

Though it is becoming cliché, to the extent that we sacrifice our liberty the terrorists have succeeded! After all; the extremists really do seek to destroy our democracy, that is their stated goal. If we are to win the war on terrorism we must preserve or even enhance our liberty.

Actions

  1. Congress must reassert its constitutional responsibility to oversee war-making by our country. In the name of political expediency Congress has transferred much too much authority to the president with few specifics about when and under what circumstances the authority is to be reclaimed.
  2. In broader terms we must have more significant oversight by Congress, in partnership with our president; that is what the Constitution rerquires.
  3. We should enforce the thousands of existing laws before passing any new ones unless there is clear and compelling evidence that a given law or program is needed. We should avoid any further use of “omnibus” legislation that can be more than 100 pages in length and that address a wide array of individual topics.
  4. Our intelligence agencies should place much greater emphasis on analysis of data from outside the U.S. and on human intelligence in places where terrorism originates.

  5. We should insist on accountability from our federal agencies whose mission is to protect us.

  6. I will do whatever I can to enhance citizens’ privacy and protection from an overzealous government hell bent on doing something, whether or not actions will be effective, so people feel safer and have the impression that the government is looking out for our safety.

  7. Beyond those specifics, as a society we must all take time to think more often about the purpose for having government: to preserve our liberty. Certainly that includes protecting us against foreign enemies. But eroding liberty in the same of preserving safety is not a good tradeoff.


rev 7/9/04