Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Terror: Ten years ago...

As you probably know, ABC plans to commemorate 9/11 with a lying "docudrama" designed to portray Bill Clinton as soft on terrorism. As a small counter to this assault on history, Raw Story reminds its readers of this AmericaBlog entry:
CNN, July 30, 1996

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, emerged from the meeting and said, "These are very controversial provisions that the [Clinton] White House wants. Some they're not going to get." ....[Hatch] also said he had some problems with the president's proposals to expand wiretapping.

So Bill Clinton, rather than just breaking the law as Bush did (then again, perhaps this is why Bush broke the law - he knew from history that the Republicans controlling the congress would oppose his efforts to expand wiretapping), decided to go to the Republican congress in 1996 and ask them for increased authority to do more eavesdropping in order to stop the terrorists - stop September 11. Senior Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, one of the GOP's top picks for the Supreme Court and a GOP committee chair, objected.

The Republicans stopped President Clinton from getting all the tools he needed to stop the next September 11 - well, no, actually they opposed giving President Clinton all the tools he needed to stop the actual September 11.
This foray into recent history prompted me to fire up Google Groups in order to see what Clinton's conservative opponents were saying about terrorism ten years ago. Below, you will find a hastily-compiled selection of excerpts. Some of these comments were written directly for usenet, others are quotes from web sites or printed sources. In order to convey an impressionistic sense of how conservatives thought at that time, I've decided to forego names and dates; if you want full context, fire up Google for yourself. All the quotes appeared somewhere on usenet during 1996.

Those of you old enough to recall those days will testify that these sentiments were widely shared in conservative circles. As you read, ask yourself if you can imagine any of our modern death-to-Islam types saying such things about Bush or the current world situation:
Clinton could SAVE several billions instead of spending a meagerly $100 million by curbing U.S. terrorism with its predictable response from others. How? Stop what we're doing around the world.
It's dangerous to formulate national security and foreign policies under conditions of hysteria and election-year politics. More important than protecting the commercial circus in Atlanta, or even airliners, is the need to protect the Constitution and citizen's rights from abridgement.

Every time there is a crisis, real or imagined, those Americans who yearn for more powerful central government, or those who long to impose their moral views on others - demand curtailment of rights. This week, it's FBI wiretaps without court orders, joining NSA monitoring of all international calls and faxes; and demands that alleged 'terrorist' information be banned from the Internet.
But as the Clinton administration plunges ahead with its anti-terrorist crusade, it is worth recalling one lesson that the rest of us have learned. You do not beat terrorists by aping their vicious tactics and riding roughshod over civil liberties to establish a police state.

You beat terrorism, or contain it, by upholding the rule of law and democratic decencies - by being the good guys. The moment we become the bad guys, then the bad guys have won.
(To read the rest, click "Permalink" below)

Continuing with our potpourri of 1996 conservative opinion on terror:
Oh, yeah, the plan: the best-kept "secret" of our overly- governmentalized age is that terrorism almost invariably _reactionary_; simply stop doing things -- things you shouldn't be doing anyway -- that cause terrorists to attack you and the attacks will stop.

Terrorism is the price that governments -- and their hostage subjects -- pay for exercising illegitimate power. Despite pundits whose ignorance is exceeded only by their presumption (_Wall Street Journal_'s Paul Gigot leaps immediately to mind) 20th century history demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that no further expansion of that power will do anything but make make the problem worse.
Behind virtually every terrorist attack we've ever seen or suffered, it's relatively easy to discover vicious and repeated acts of aggression against innocent individuals by the state.

Preceeding the highly-publicized excesses of the Irish Republican Army, for example, we find 850 years of violent occupation by an exceptionally brutal foreign power that's managed to con the world into believing that it's civilized.

Half a hundred years of Middle Eastern terror arise directly from the fact that, instead of coming to America -- the appropriate refuge for "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" -- either before or after World War II, European Jews decided to take somebody else's landaway, and treat their victims the same way they themselves were treated by the Nazis.
I truly believed that the politicians drafting the legislation that : continues to chip away at our rights were motivated by humanitarian : reasons, it might be easier to forgive their misguided efforts; : however, I don't think they're all as stupid as some of their : legislation would make them appear to be, so I am forced to question : their real motives. And they never seem to miss a chance to ride a : public tragedy to advance their cause.
The Reno letter objects to "terrorists" being given rights. But that assumes guilt. The whole idea of our constitutional system is that people should have a fair chance to answer charges before they are convicted. Does Janet Reno think we should ignore the Fourth and Fifth and Sixth Amendments because they protect "criminals"? Does Bill Clinton?

Even before the terrorism bill, with its habeas corpus and numerous other repressive provisions, the Administration had shown a cavalier disregard for civil liberties.
The administration has asked for authority to prevent terrorist groups from raising money in the United States, the right to deport immediately foreigners who support terrorist activities, high-tech surveillance and other tools for law enforcement officials, and the right to mark chemically the explosive materials terrorists use to build bombs, enabling them to be traced.

But Republicans in Congress opposed Clinton's bill because they feared it would give too much power to law enforcement and government.
Politicians sacrificing the Bill of Rights on the media- reelection alter need to understand there is a cost to treason against this nation and its Constitution, and that the down- payment will come due with this Fall's election.

We covered the "terrorism bill" in the Security column of our 11 Sep. 1995 issue. In our view, it remains a bill designed mainly to assist the government in terrorizing its own citizens through increased and unconstitutional prohibitions on their freedoms. It does nothing to impede terrorism, and all such actions -- blowing up people and buildings -- are already crimes punishable under state and local laws.

As we have repeatedly stated, terrorism is an outgrowth of foreign policy. The efforts of elected officials to trade "terrorism prevention" for the increased government power is as old as history. Benjamin Franklin said it well: "Those who would forfeit essential liberty for temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety."
The Anti-Terrorist bill is a hysterical over-reaction which has the potential to destroy the United States. First, the definition of "terrorist" could include almost anyone or any organization. Those individuals could be denied the right to free speech, the right to gather, the right to legal counsel, the right to face their accusers, the right to a fair trial and the right to personal property - WITHOUT COURT ACTION. Simply put, the officer becomes judge, jury and executioner. Federal powers under the Clinton Anti-Terrorist act would allow for loose rules of engagement (ie... shoot on sight) and submission of evidence gathered illegally (ie... wire taps and break ins). Federal law enforcement would have the power to search and seize any property or information without warrant. In addition, the bill will also authorize the use of U.S. military forces against U.S. civilians, including air support, tanks, and armed troops.

The House Freshman rejected the Terrorist act and rightly so. They recognized the danger of a President with unlimited power.
Anti-terrorist hysteria has become the excuse for governmental attempts to circumvent online freedom of expression, guaranteed by constitutions, laws, and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.


Anonymous said...

Oh, my God! How is it possible that heads are exploding all over Washington from the cognitive dissonance?

Joseph, you've really outdone yourself on this one. I do wish you'd cited sources, because this post ought to be shooting across the Internet. Brilliant work.

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God. This is so excellent. And invigorating, since there's almost nothing that makes my blood boil more than conservatives' hypocritical retro indictment of Clinton for allegedly failing to try to bolster U.S. defenses against terrorist acts during his admin. And don't even get me started about how disgusted I become when they claim that Clinton (Clinton!) used a heavy, authoritarian hand when it came to dealing with hostile governments abroad, let alone wasted money doing so. One of the things I've always admired the most about Bill was how shrewd, delicate and tactful he always attempted to be when dealing with foreign aggressors (unless there was absolutely no other choice). Because Bill understood that whole, "the sword devours in one way or another" concept, and endeavored to keep blowback from our defensive efforts from biting us in the ass as best he could. Unlike some people.

Bryant said...

I agree with unirealist

This is a good post, but the inclusion of citations would make it an essential one.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is brilliant, but worthless without citations.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Let's get some citations for these ridiculous quotes. I'd love to use this as a reference.

LieparDestin said...

Howdy Joseph, I diaried this yesterday at DKOS and theres nearly 200 comments worth of good information.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, please, please, put the citations in. That's only fair.

Anonymous said...

Acccording to Democratic Underground, ABC pulled the plug on the official blog of 9/11 Docudrama. They kept getting comments attacking the bias and propoganda aspect of the Documentary.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. But I wonder what "liberals" were saying 10 years ago in response to President Clinton's request. I wonder how that would jive with what they are saying right now?

Joseph Cannon said...

anon, I already know the answer. Liberals bitched about Clinton almost as much as right-wingers did, even though the right-wingers pretended that Clinton was supported by legions of hypno-zombies. It is in the nature of progressives to carp about whomever is in power.

In the course of this research, I came across a 1996 piece by Michael Parenti which mirrored some points made by Clinton's enemies to the right.

For about twenty years (previous to W administration) the Republican advantage was that their base supported "their" team's leaders. Dems traditionally offer only sneering, grudging support to ANY pol. That's because every liberal feels in his heart of hearts that he could do better.

As for those who want names-n-dates (or at least links): An expanded version of this piece may appear on BradBlog. Look there...

Anonymous said...

There's also:

1. Clarke's testimony re: the stark contrast between the Clinton administrations focus on terrorism vs. Bush / Cheney's almost complete reversal of that focus;
2. Well-documented cries of "wag the dog" any time Clinton took concrete steps to attack terrorist infrastructure;
3. Successful apprehension during Clinton's term of *real* terrorists (vs fake ones like the Florida 7), including the Y2K incident;
4. A huge statistical increase in terror events around the world since Bush initiated his pre-emptive war policy.

Joseph shows that charges of Republican hypocrisy are well founded, but it's also clear that charges of Republican incompetence and spin in selling failures as successes are also founded in fact.

BTW, Joseph, I agree that Dems (or better yet, liberals) "give only sneering, grudging support to any pol", but not just because we believe we can do it better. We also (unlike Republicans) demand measurable results, reality-based plans and conclusions, and loss of office for hypocrites and liars, regardless of party (cf Lieberman).


Anonymous said...

This Bush vs. Clinton crap makes me sick.

Attention people!

There is no difference between the two!

There is no difference between the two political parties!

They both serve the same masters.

If you haven't caught on to that yet,you need to get up to speed in a hurry.

Anonymous said...

This "Republican = Democrat" crap makes ME sick.

Attention, Anon 6:14 PM, there IS a difference between the parties, if only a matter of degree.

Yes, they do serve the same masters, but that doesn't necessarily equate to the same results.

The distance between winning and losing in most endeavors comes down to small differences, a few percentage points.

You're the one who needs to wake up. What's your alternative?