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  • Morning Bell: Defending Liberty and Security in Wartime

    The official end of U.S. operations in Iraq last week calls to mind controversial issues from the past decade. One of the most important intellectual and policy battles, which remains relevant today, is over how to defend both civil liberties and security in time of war. In other words, how should America defend itself from enemies at home and abroad while also preserving the freedoms that we enjoy and that make our country great?

    People often say that we need to balance liberty and security. This implies that the two are opposed and that the more we have of one, the less we will have of the other. That’s an understandable way of talking, but it’s wrong. The truth is that neither liberty nor security can exist without the other. They are equally important to the United States and, indeed, are the twin reasons why this nation was founded.

    Protecting individual liberty does not invariably hobble the nation’s defenses. Rather, as the Constitution recognizes, security and liberty are reinforcing: We “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Thus, we do not want, or need, to trade off freedom to achieve security. Nor should we assume that security, the first duty of government, is the enemy of liberty. As Cully Stimson and Andrew Grossman write in the latest installment of Heritage’s Understanding America series, “A threat to America’s security is also a threat to Americans’ liberties.”

    Awareness of this fact runs deep in American history. The Declaration of Independence was inspired partly by British abuses, committed without regard for the rule of law. Britain’s rule denied the American colonists both their natural rights and reliable security. As John Jay wrote in The Federalist, “It is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    And that is what the Founders did, creating a system that has worked for over 200 years. It is a system that recognizes liberty and security as friends, not opponents to one another. It’s important for Americans today to recognize that as the world changes, we must adapt if we are to continue to preserve both liberty and security.

    The American system places its faith not fundamentally in specific guarantees of rights. The Bill of Rights is vital, but it came later. The Founders relied first on the separation of powers among the three branches of government on the federal level and on the division between federal and state government. This arrangement provided both flexibility to ensure security and restraint needed to safeguard liberty.

    In the Cold War, the U.S. fought enemies who relied on planning and state control. These ostentatious displays were created by governments that were at war with their own people, denying them both security and liberty. Today, the U.S. should maintain a strong national defense against enemies both known and unknown. It relies on many tools to achieve this, and when these programs work well, they serve our need for liberty and security alike. The Founders did not anticipate the precise challenges we face now, but the system they created was strong and flexible. It will continue to work if we understand it and apply it rightly. For example, the use of military tribunals to try terrorists dates back to the Revolutionary War and continues to be appropriate today.

    Stimson and Grossman note:

    Maintaining a strong national defense secures liberty against threats known and unknown, from rogue states to terrorist organizations. This is the paramount and vital responsibility of the federal government.

    As we look forward to 2012, all Americans should bear the importance of a strong but limited government in mind.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    33 Responses to Morning Bell: Defending Liberty and Security in Wartime

    1. J Abney says:

      I continue to be very disappointed in the alignment of the Heritage Foundation with forces in Congress and the Administration who think nothing of violating Constitutional rights in the supposed cause of national security. Our constitution does not give congress authority to pass laws that give the President authority to detain US citizens indefinitely without trial nor does it give the President authority to kill any US citizen that he deems is a terrorist, as his administration recently claimed. Those are most serious attacks on our rights and few in Congress and none at Heritage are speaking out against them. Is it any wonder that more and more Americans are turning to Ron Paul?

      • R Armstrong says:

        I agree 100 % with J Abney and that's why I no longer support the Heritage Foundation. The lack of coverage and outrage over this issue has me questioning their real agenda. I will also alert anyone and everyone regarding this matter. Shame on you all.

    2. Shirley says:

      If I were going to write a synopses of Dr.Ron Paul this would be right up there with anything I might write. This country was lulled into a false sense of security over the last ten years and it has come crashing down on us individually and as an economy. Tom Coburn's recently released list of taxpayer funded atrocities brings the blood to a boil within the first few minutes of reading!

      Dr Ron Paul has warned and projected and complained for lo all these many years to no avail. His primary goal is to End the Fed. It is a bogus organization which aided and abetted the downfall of the American Economy and should be disbanded ASAP. Dr Paul also has warned of losing our liberty to the paranoia of the government. Just think about the senior citizen who was told to remove a colonoscopy bag. This type of humiliation is ignorant at best and criminal at worst so why do we, as a nation, allow this type of treatment to stand?

      If the Establishment can keep undermining Dr Paul and keep calling him "crazy" then nothing changes in this country except the further sucking out of wealth from the average guy for the benefit of the elite. In short, they are scared to death that the public will choose to hire a man who has no personal stake in the presidency other than to restore our Constitution.

      We do not have a free so it is up to each individual to research the candidates. Personally, I have done that and my choice is Dr Ron Paul.

    3. Frank says:

      A very nice & reasonable article by Heritage. I especially like these 2 lines:

      "The truth is that neither liberty nor security can exist without the other."
      "As we look forward to 2012, all Americans should bear the importance of a strong but limited government in mind."

      Ron Paul would agree 100%. He wants BOTH liberty & security. He wants a strong, but limited government. But how to accomplish these often seemingly contradictory goals? Does spreading ourselves thin in some 800+ bases around the world in some 120+ nations accomplish that goal while meddling into the affairs of other nations and while also not properly guarding our borders? Both he & our Founding Fathers would say NO! #1) Mind our own business unless directly attacked or threatened by someone else, #2) Declare war if attacked or threatened & then fight 100% to win asap, then bring the troops home, #3) If you can't get enough votes in Congress to fight a war, then probably it's not a war worth fighting, #4) Guard the borders, #5) Keep the military well equipped, well trained & modernized at home.

      Ron Paul is not an isolationist. He's a non-interventionist and he won't start undeclared & Unconstitutional wars. He'll keep America secure & safe at home & stop being the world's policeman at our expense. That's why the military supports Ron Paul more than any other candidate for President. I believe Ron Paul is also the only candidate who has actually served in the US Military.

      Wake up America. Wake up to having BOTH reasonable security & God given freedoms. Don't let big government take them away.

    4. T-Texas says:

      We need the strongest real or precieved military in the world.I have never saw people let one administration tear down our military might in such a short time.

      • trueminarchist says:

        Though I'm no way an Obama supporter, this current president makes Bush look like an isolationist. He's expanded the war in Afghan, plus Libya, Yemen, Pakistan and now Uganda. How can you say he has tore down the military. He's expanded the empire, just like a good military industrial complex puppet is suppose to do.

    5. FlaJim says:

      It is unfortunate that the security measures that government has imposed in the past 10 years are both onerous and nonsensical. Those imposed on air travelers alone illustrate the point. In order to satisfy a few very vocal objecters to increased scrutiny, obviously non-threatening people are included in a dragnet that should be focusing on the profile we have of those who most wish to harm us.

      Goverment has cast too wide a net in order to prove to the world that we have no real enemies, just a few bad apples here and there. It goes even further into fantasy when it refuses to even acknowledge the existence of known organized enemies. The result is that a majority of Americans believe that government is incapable to defending us from either physical threat or threat to our liberties and rights. Sadly, under the current regime, they're correct.

    6. DM MYERS says:

      All very nice sentiments and platitudes. But "the devil is in the details." Why not discuss the "Patriot Act" and your take on it? Why not discuss the recent bills going thru congress and your take on them?

      I want the least possible government that will thwart unprovoked, violent foreign aggression. I don't want a government that controls capitalism to save capitalism as said GW Bush. Enough of the double-talk and 1984-speak.

    7. Oscar Borwn says:

      As a limited government provides both security and liberty, an ever-expanding government decreases both.
      The focus must be tightened, not expanded to encomapss all avenues of attack and be ready to prevent them. Limited government is essential to our security and liberty. We must get back to it.

    8. DM MYERS says:

      All very nice sentiments and platitudes. But "the devil is in the details." Why not discuss the "Patriot Act" and your take on it? Why not discuss the recent bills going thru congress and your take on them?

    9. Judy Guhrke says:

      You want my comments – how about discussing the new National Defense Authorization Billt – and comment on the willingness of our Congress to forfeit concept of liberty that has existed since the Magna Carta and specifically referred to in our Constitution – when I hear your attempt to justify that abomination, we can have a discussion. Paraphrasing Ben Franklin: When you sacrifice liberty for security, you get neither. Giving our federal government the right to arrest without warrant, detain without charges and imprison without trial American citizens – - we have crossed the line into slavery.

    10. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      In World War II, we had censorship.

    11. Inverbrass says:

      America as a nation has become complacent. As a people we have a vague idea of our history and those who fought and died to defend our coutry, our constitution and the freedom we enjoy today. The security of our nation and our liberties are not mutually exclusive. Affirmative action, political correctness and a sense of entitlement pervade our society. Our president travels the world apologizing for America. I do not need him to apologize for me or my country. He needs to stand proud and strong for our nation and our way of life, but unfortunately his flawed character will not allow it. He took an oath when he became president. Too bad he does not understand what it means. Too bad Congress has not read and does not understand the Constitution.

    12. Lee Hazel says:

      President Bush, his administration and his first Congress were the last WDCers to take part in the initiation of a new "war". This would be of course the Iraqi conflict. From the outset in the early 2000s this President and this war underwent the most virulent negative media attacks ever experienced in this country. These media attacks were accompanied by some of the most egregious anti-war activities this country has ever seen.
      Publications printed expos-e's of vital military data, and did everything possible to cripple and virtually eliminate our intelligence activities in that part of the world as well as right here at home.
      The bottom line —- no one was prosecuted for these crimes —-, and crimes they were. Our men and women in and out of uniform died due to these misguided and treasonous activities of our media and some politicians. end of part 1

    13. Lee Hazel says:

      Part II

      Once the first American boots hit the ground and the orders to deploy and fire the first shots Treason and Treasonous activities take on a whole new set of meanings in out society. For a number of reasons these actions failed to happen. This President and his administration was severely handicapped by the huge anti-war efforts that were occurring throughout the country.
      Unfortunately as we proceed in Afghanistan nothing has significantly changed and out media and politicians continue to posture and commit what would be serious crimes (aka treason and treasonous activities) under more normal circumstances.
      This problem is only one of a multitude that point to the fact that We the People have lost our way and need desperately to regain it.

    14. Guest says:

      The US is building a huge and tax paid embassy there, correct? And then the mercenaries will be there, correct? So in actuality, the US is not just handing the country back-completely, is it? As part of the current empire building we are witnessing this will keep the US with its thumb on the hub of life in Iraq, won't it? I am truly trying to understand how it will work and if the US is really returning the sovereignty of a nation who was wrongly beat up (no weapons of mass destruction other than those provided by the US to our friend of many years until he attacked Kuwait)…to not leave 100% is to not leave at all…in way…isn't it? Was George washington wrong when he said "…conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations,is in extending out commercial relations and to have with them as little political connection as possible." Was Thomas Jefferson wrong when he said, "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none." I believe our Founders wanted us to promote peace (not by beating anyone up and occupying) by example and good will.

    15. Shirley says:

      If I were going to write a synopses of Dr.Ron Paul this would be right up there with anything I might write. This country was lulled into a false sense of security over the last ten years and it has come crashing down on us individually and as an economy. Tom Coburn's recently released list of taxpayer funded atrocities brings the blood to a boil within the first few minutes of reading!

    16. BigD says:

      A laudable generalized contention and noble goal. However, the question remains: Does Heritage support the warrantless search, seizure, and imprisonment authorized by the Patriot Act? How about the 2008 repeal of posse comitatus?

      Heritage may not perceive a conflict between liberty and security, but the current crop of quangocratic tyrants sure do.

    17. M Cole says:

      Thank You Heritage Foundation for being there to remind Americans how devinely inspired our founding fathers were. Lets pray for a spiritual renewal and take back our Country.

    18. Paul says:

      Why is American security and sovereignty weak as, we the United States of America, has given the right to enter into America towards citizenship to the United Nations, to govern and or decide; who is letting non harassed Muslims enter, apposed to treated and mocked Christians from other countries?

    19. L P says:

      It is incorrect to say that we are in Wartime when no war has been declared constitutionally. When we as citizens are asked or forced to act as if we are under the limitations of war powers when no war has been declared, than it is reasonable to expect that our rights which are sacrificed are actually being permanently usurped. When citizens were asked to make certain adjustments and limitations of rights during WW2 and other wars they did so with a sacrificial agreement to win the war. But then the war was ended they demanded, and received their rights back. Today we have no declared war so we have no real hope that the war will ever end or our rights will be restored. Why play the game of saying we are at war when we are only fighting, and we are asked to understand why we must give up our freedoms, yet never hope to see them returned.

    20. Frank says:

      We need to becareful about identifying reale enemies and danger they possess….and imaginary those manufactured by the government……to frieghten to us to to action..

    21. John Besharian says:

      Here’s how Vaclav Havel described the "post-totalitarian" world in The Power of The Powerless:

      "The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing."

    22. Joe Williams says:

      The John Jay quote in this article is from the Declaration of Independence not the Federalist, and thus probably by Jefferson and not Jay. For our friends in the press who place a high premium on accuracy, let me say I didn't actually hear Thomas Jefferson say this. It is important to get the facts straight so the opposition can't construe them as proof of incompetence and miss the point that liberty and security are not mutually exclusive. Look at any Marxist state in history, and you will find neither liberty nor security.

    23. Ron W. Smith says:

      Wonderful piece, Ericka Andersen. It's spare in its coverage of the territory, but without openings for argument–always the sign of good persuasive writing, just as the presence of those openings in poorer persuasive writing are the sign of a propagandist at work.
      Now if we can only find the happy medium between strong National Defense and the excesses of SuperPower on Call, and forego budget-busting extravagance on all that is involved in our approach to "National Security," I do believe we'd be able to afford the social safety net and upgrades in infrastructure currently threatened by our $15 trillion national debt. Liberty and Security as such are really not all that expensive when you think about it.

    24. America Land Of The Brave??
      Invade two of most destitute and unarmed nations on earth
      7000 miles away—OH! How Brave!

    25. markross1967 says:

      I TOTALLY believe in defending OUR country, and our borders. And, to come down HARD on any country, or terrorist group that attacks our country. That said, I don't believe our Federal Government's first duty is to keep us safe, but, it is to follow The Constitution in full, and thus, keep us free. As Benjamin Franklin once put it: “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

    26. markross1967 says:

      Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

    27. markross1967 says:

      “We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

    28. Lee Hazel says:

      Once the first American boots hit the ground in Iraq and the orders went out to deploy and fire the first shots Treason and Treasonous activities take on a whole new set of meanings in out society. For a number of reasons these actions failed to happen. President Bush and his administration was severely handicapped by the huge anti-war efforts that were occurring throughout the country. __Unfortunately as we proceeded in Afghanistan nothing has significantly changed and our media and politicians continue to posture and commit what would be serious crimes (aka treason and treasonous activities) under more normal circumstances. __This problem is only one of a multitude that point to the fact that We the People have lost our way and need desperately to regain it.

    29. aebe says:

      The NDAA,and any other legislation like it,is our government trading our freedoms for it's security.And
      politicians keep writing such garbage,knowing that their rights,the rights of family and friends are all being
      stolen by those same politicians.What manner of creature destroys the future of it's children ?
      Paul/Rice 2012 !

      Validate your 2nd Amendment Rights.Carry.
      Even crooked politicians still have the right.
      Better that they be tarred and feathered.
      Something so painful,and yet easily avoided,
      Should be a learnable lesson.

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