In my own words
Oct. 21, 2001
In the wake of September's terrorist attacks on America, there has been a flurry of investigative, legislative and military activity to shore up our nation's defenses and reduce our vulnerability to prevent recent history from repeating itself.
Manhunts at home and abroad have rounded up scores of would-be terrorists, but investigations reveal this to be merely the tip of the iceberg.
While President Bush has wisely urged Americans to avoid the pitfall of venting our frustrations on Americans of Middle Eastern descent, he and his Attorney General have asked the Congress for expanded powers to pursue and prosecute suspected terrorist organizations known to be operating within our borders. Predictably, civil libertarians have cried foul and claimed that the government was trying to shred the Constitution, trample the Bill of Rights, and engage in racial profiling.
Conversely, I've heard Americans on the other side of the ideological fence shortsightedly swear that they would rather give up all of their rights than to have another month like September.
Whoa … surely we can protect our population and our Constitution at the same time.
The expanded powers the Justice Department has asked for primarily deal with the authority to conduct wiretapping and surveillance of groups known or suspected to be engaged in terrorist activity. As a military officer sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, I have no problem with that.
To me, there is a great deal of difference between expansion of wiretapping authority against citizens of the United States and wiretapping foreigners who may be linked to terrorist organizations. It's time for law enforcement to take the gloves off and do whatever it takes to root out those who think that killing thousands of innocent civilians is doing Allah a service.
Citizens of the United States have a right to live in America with all of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. For non-citizens to live in America, however, is a privilege, not a right. The distinction is significant.
Most immigrants, like my grandparents, came here with the dream of becoming American citizens heart and soul. But today, many come to our shores with hatred for the very country that allows them to study, work and live in freedom with no intention of becoming citizens.
We have felt the sting of their hatred and now are faced with the sad truth that their war against us has only begun. We have no choice but to fight back.
The sensitivity lobby has abandoned reason in their charge that law enforcement unfairly uses racial profiling against persons of Middle Eastern descent. The terrorist organizations that have attacked America are from the Middle East, and law enforcement has an obligation to pursue every lead they have.
If the Irish Republican Army were responsible for the attacks on Washington and New York City, the focus would be on young Caucasian males, and I, for one, would understand and welcome the scrutiny as reasonable. Even in a free society we must occasionally be inconvenienced to ensure the protection of others.
I have every confidence that we can win the war against terrorism while maintaining the balance between freedom and security. I have every confidence that we will.
Craig Ziemba, a pilot, lives in Meridian.