The "war on terror" has done little in ending worldwide terrorism, but it has done much to deprive Americans of their constitutional rights. History has shown that war erodes liberty, and this erosion has accelerated to a terrifying pace this past decade. And liberty revoked by the state is seldom ever reinstated.
In 1798, preparing for war with France, the federal government enacted laws against immigrants, French sympathizers, and government criticism that blatantly violated the First Amendment. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln routinely imprisoned war dissenters without charges or trial.
In World War I, hundreds were jailed for violating illegal laws suppressing free speech and expression. In World War II, thousands of Japanese-Americans were illegally rounded up and jailed in concentration camps because they posed a "national security threat."
Sometimes we don't even need a war for government to suppress liberty. Politicians have compared the Great Depression, the space race, the energy crisis, and even our current economic downturn to a "war" in an effort to justify the expansion of government power at the expense of the people's liberty. All of these actions set dangerous precedents for future politicians to follow.
Now the Senate has passed a defense bill that allows the president to use the military to arrest and imprison any American deemed a threat to national security. This blatant disregard for civil liberties cannot be ignored. Government must operate within the confines of the Constitution. Only when individuals are empowered to defend their own liberty can the government be the servant, rather than the master, of the people as intended by the founders.