"War on Terrorism"
--Fundamental Civil Liberties Must be Preserved--
Number 2, Feb. 2002
Our Response to the Sept. 11 Attack Should Be Taken With Care.
There is no question that those responsible for the horrendous attacks on Sept. 11 last year committed a serious crime against humanity, and they should be apprehended and prosecuted as terrorists. However, it is important that our country take appropriate measures to deal with the problem in accordance with the existing international law and our Constitution. Unfortunately, there is a tendency on the part of the administration and Congress to take hurried measures to enhance security at the expense of undermining fundamental civil liberties.
Civil Liberties Are Under Severe Attacks.
Since Sept. 11, more than 1,200 people have been arrested and some 460 people are still under detention. The administration refuses to disclose their names or charges against these people. Some 5,000 Arab and Muslim non-immigrants were selected for information interview. While it is understandable that the law enforcement agencies take certain security measures against further acts of terrorism, racial/ethnic profiling and discriminatory treatments against Arab and Muslim people are repugnant measures that go against the fundamental American values of due process and equal treatment under law. It is quite disturbing to see the new anti-terrorism law, USA PATRIOT Act, enacted in such a hurry last October without even having a chance for the Congressional members to read the text of the bill, according to Rep. Nadler (NY). Some of the new laws are quite intrusive and draconian in nature, possibly in violation of the bill of rights guaranteed by our Constitution. Congress should revisit some of the new laws passed recently and take more careful steps in passing any new laws that would infringe on basic civil liberties.
Authorization for Use of Military Force May be Too Overreaching.
Soon after the September attack, the Congress passed a Joint Resolution that authorized the President "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacksˇ¦." In granting such an open-ended and broad power to the President, did the Congress abdicate its constitutional responsibility to declare war? The President claims that he is waging a war on Taliban and Al Qaeda. If it is a war, then shouldn't the Congress declare it? If it is a war, then why does the administration refuse to recognize the detainees from Afghanistan as prisoners of war? If the Present wants to attack Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, or Britain, for instances, is it already authorized by the Joint Resolution? It seems the President is proceeding on that assumption at the present. And this is quite troublesome, undemocratic and dangerous for the future of our nation.
An Effective Response to Terror Must be Based on Upholding the Rule of Law.
In carrying out our fight against terrorism, it is important for Congress and the administration to understand the root causes of the problem. It is also important that Congress checks and balances each other's steps, and the government acts within the bounds of our Constitution and the international law. A long-term solution to terrorism must be based on upholding the rule of law through our legal system, international cooperation, and joint actions of the United Nations. In particular, it is recommended that the government take the following further actions:
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