Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 104
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for September 20, 2001

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

As I contemplate last week’s terror attacks on the U.S., I wonder about the nature of our responses. The responses overseas are much more certain than the domestic responses. Assuredly, the American people expect our military to locate the terrorist leader and eliminate him and to punish any government that has abetted him. We expect to see our economic power used to induce foreign governments to eliminate the ability of terrorists to hide assets used for funding such activities. We expect our intelligence community to develop the needed sources to provide adequate warning of future assaults, since we know they will come.

The domestic responses are less certain and more problematic. There is a fine line between merely enhancing our security and changing the very nature of our open society. I’m talking about whether we will be asked to give up our constitutional rights to achieve security.

  • We’ve already seen a major tightening of controls at airports; this is basically unobjectionable, as air travel is a choice and reasonable alternatives exist.
  • More aggressive surveillance of the status of legal aliens, without specific surveillance of their activities, is probably also reasonable.
  • Physical and electronic surveillance of citizens and legal aliens is acceptable if done under authority of a warrant issued based on probable cause.
  • I believe the line would be crossed if general surveillance of electronic communications would occur, if the banking ‘know your customer’ rules were implemented, or warrantless searches were allowed.

    While we as a nation strive to protect ourselves while preserving our Bill of Rights, as individuals we need to recognize that we must assume that skyjackers and other terrorists no longer have any objective other than killing Americans, and we must react accordingly.

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