From the Editor

By Benoit, Gary | The New American, July 24, 2006 | Go to article overview

From the Editor


Benoit, Gary, The New American


Every country needs to possess the ability to protect itself against enemies both foreign and domestic, or it will lose its freedom. Necessary protections include not only police and armed forces but also intelligence services.

But the power to protect can be used to impose tyranny as well as to safeguard liberty. In fact, human nature being what it is, governmental agencies authorized to use deadly force or to snoop will inevitably become oppressive--unless those powers are constrained by a system of law that protects the governed from the government.

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary," James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, observed. "If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." Understanding that men are not angels, the Founding Fathers created a system of government that not only limited governmental powers but divided those powers among the three branches of government and between the federal government and the states. Under the U.S. Constitution, the powers of the federal government are few and specified, and all other powers "are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The local, state, and federal governments all have important roles to play in protecting the public. The federal government is authorized to provide for the national defense, but law enforcement is supposed to be principally a local responsibility, with the police accountable to the communities they protect and serve. Such an arrangement prevents a central government from using a nationalized police force to consolidate power--along the lines of what has happened in the past in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.

To assure the protection of U.S. citizens, intelligence powers have been divided among the different branches and levels of government--from local police intelligence units to congressional investigating committees.

When our nation was attacked on 9/11, it was the local first responders--from the private citizens aboard United Flight 93 to the firemen and police officers who rushed into the burning WTC towers--who provided the most heroic defense on that tragic day. …

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