Iraqi Blueprint for Tyranny? the Proposed Iraqi Bill of Rights Employs Plenty of Pleasant-Sounding Platitudes Similar to the U.S. Constitution. but So Did the Soviet Constitution, Which Consolidated Tyranny

Article excerpt

Our system of government is premised on the self-evident truth that (in the words of the Declaration of Independence) "Men ... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." Based on this premise, the U.S. Bill of Rights does not grant rights; it instead protects already-existing rights by prohibiting government from intruding on those rights. On the other hand, the proposed Iraqi Bill of Rights, which would become part of that nation's constitution, is based on the fallacy that government grants rights. The difference is fundamental, since if government "grants" rights, government can also withdraw or limit the rights it grants. And so the draft of the Iraqi Bill of Rights, like the old Soviet Constitution, is replete with qualifications that make the rights it grants meaningless (e.g., "the law regulates the exercise of these freedoms"). That is, you have these freedoms except when the law says you do not have these freedoms.

The proposed Iraqi Bill of Rights is also reminiscent of the Soviet Constitution in that it proclaims so-called collective rights empowering the state, such as a fight to healthcare or housing. Such "rights" can only be provided by taking from some to give to others, and inevitably leads to government control of healthcare, housing, etc.

Below are some of the rights enumerated in the proposed Iraqi Constitution. You decide whether the proposed new Iraqi Bill of Rights empowers the people or the government, whether it guarantees individual rights as inalienable or revocable by the government, and whether it more closely resembles the U.S. Bill of Rights or the tyrannical model of the former Soviet state.

Individual Rights        U.S. Bill of Rights

Freedom of Speech     Congress shall make no law
and Press             ... abridging the freedom of
                      speech, or of the press.... (1st

Freedom of            Congress shall make no law
Religion              respecting an establishment
                      of religion, or prohibiting the
                      free exercise thereof.... (1st

Right to Keep and     A well-regulated Militia, being
Bear Arms             necessary to the security of
                      a free state, the right of the
                      people to keep and bear arms,
                      shall not be infringed. (2nd

Freedom of            Congress shall make no law ...
Assembly and          abridging ... the right of
Petition              the people peaceably to assemble,
                      and to petition the Government
                      for a redress of grievances.
                      (1st Amendment)

Right Against         The right of the people to
Search and Seizure    be secure in their persons,
                      houses, papers and effects
                      against unreasonable searches
                      and seizures, shall not be
                      violated, and no warrants
                      shall issue, but upon probable
                      cause, supported by oath or
                      affirmation, and particularly
                      describing the place to be
                      searched, and the persons
                      or things to be seized. (4th

Right to Jury Trial   In all criminal prosecutions, the
                      accused shall enjoy the right to
                      a speedy and public trial, by an
                      impartial jury of the State and
                      district wherein the crime shall
                      have been committed ... and to
                      be informed of the nature and
                      cause of the accusation.... (6th

Additional            The enumeration in the
Individual Rights     Constitution of certain rights
                      shall not be construed to deny
                      or disparage others retained by
                      the people. …