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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Swine Flu and Terrorism


Not surprisingly, immigration warriors are using the swine flu outbreak to buttress their case for closing the borders to the outside world. In the process, they miss a big problem, however, one that I have raised for many years. If we’re going to have the government close the borders to people coming into the country to protect us from infectious diseases, then we’re going to have to also close the borders in the other direction, which means prohibiting Americans from traveling to other countries, where they can catch diseases and bring them back. And that necessarily will mean a lot of control and tyranny, as citizen of North Korea will attest.

The news media is confirming this problem. It turns out that the swine flu outbreak in Maryland was not caused by Mexican immigrants but instead by an American. And guess which American: Robert Gibbs who just happens to be President Obama’s White House press aide. And guess how he caught the flu — by traveling to Mexico with President Obama himself!

So, I guess the immigration warriors are just going to have to prohibit every American, including the president and his staff, from traveling overseas, in order to keep us safe.

Oh well, at least there will be some collateral benefit to depriving Americans of their fundamental right to travel wherever they wish. Keeping all Americans locked in would also obviously mean that all CIA agents and U.S. soldiers would have to stay home too, which would mean no more overseas empire bases, invasions, wars of aggression, occupations, secret overseas prisons, etc.

Oh, another point: Why should we Virginians permit Marylanders to infect us with swine flu? Why aren’t the immigration warriors calling for closing the border between Virginia and Maryland? Are we supposed to let them infect us just because they’re fellow Americans instead of foreigners?

The answer to all this anti-freedom nonsense is this: Oftentimes life can be precarious and dangerous, but, to paraphrase Patrick Henry, are life and safety so dear that they should be purchased at any price, especially the loss of liberty and fundamental rights? Perish the thought!

Meanwhile, Ali al-Marri, who the Pentagon held as an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terrorism” for some 5 years, has entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court to the federal crime of terrorism. He now faces the possibility of 15 years in a federal penitentiary.

But wait a minute! Isn’t that impossible? Haven’t war-on-terrorism warriors been telling us for 8 years that terrorism is an act of war, not a federal criminal offense? Haven’t they been telling us that with respect to the people they’ve been holding at Guantanamo and other U.S. prison camps around the world? Didn’t they say that the 9/11 attacks were an act of war, not a criminal offense?

Well, those people had better get word to the federal judge who is presiding in the al-Marri case because he just accepted a plea of guilty to the federal crime of terrorism. For that matter, they might want to contact the federal judge in the Zacharias Moussaoui case, who also accepted a guilty plea to the federal crime of terrorism.

So, what about those people who the Pentagon and the CIA are still holding at Gitmo and elsewhere? Well, guess what! The Pentagon and the CIA continue to hold them under the rationale that terrorism is an act of war, not a crime. Imagine that!

Do you see a problem here?

As we have long been pointing out here at FFF, after 9/11 the federal government just assumed the power, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment, to subject accused terrorists to two different judicial processes: the one established by the Pentagon after 9/11 and the federal-court process established by the Constitution.

Thus, ever since 9/11 the government has wielded the authority to treat two different people who are accused of committing the same offense in two completely different ways. It would be difficult to find a better example of a violation of the principle of the rule of law and the principle of equal treatment under law.

And the choice makes all the difference in the world. If the government had opted to continue subjecting al-Marri to the Pentagon’s system, he could have been held in prison forever without a trial, they could have continued to torture and abuse him, and they could have forced him to be tried by a kangaroo military tribunal whose outcome could be preordained.

By opting to send him into the constitutional process, everything changed. Al-Marri no longer could be tortured or abused, and he was accorded all the rights and guarantees of the Bill of Rights. The system worked, as the Framers envisioned it would work, and as we have been maintaining here at The Future of Freedom Foundation for the past 8 years.

Returning to Patrick Henry, are life and safety so dear that they should be purchased at any price, including the abandonment of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and such long-established principles as the rule of law and equal treatment under law? Perish the thought!

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.