By Joseph Cannon on 9/5/2006, 10:43am PT  

Guest blogged by Joseph Cannon

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 such assaults on history, AmericaBlog reminds us the the Republicans once had a very different attitude toward terrorism.

In July of 1996, Clinton asked Congress for increased wiretapping authority in order to catch terrorists --- unlike Bush, who simply assumed such powers, consulting his lawyers instead of the legislators. The Republicans smacked down the idea, citing the dangers of increased presidential powers.

They also fired up their base with dark tales of a Clinton power-grab, using terror as a excuse. You can relive this history as I did --- by firing 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. The change in attitude is almost as stunning as the attempt to change history itself. 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:

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.
It was to be expected that laws made under such circumstances of semi-hysteria would be imperfect and threatening to the liberties of innocent American citizens whose only "crime" was belonging to a "suspect" group or class whose opinions were not "politically correct." Such we believe was the case with the original "Terror Bill", and such we believe to be the case today with the legislation proposed by the Clinton Administration in the wake of the downing of TWA Flight 800 and the Olympic bombing in Atlanta.
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.

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.

Man, you people are screwed. If even one of these jokers gets this kind of an anti-terrorist bill passed, or anything else like it, you're all damned to hell and all movement to reverse and "heal" will of course be terrorism.
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.

Clinton will emerge as the clear big winner from the recent spate of 'terrorist' attacks here in the US. Clinton's unconstitutional agenda of civil-rights-suppressing legislation will move forward in Congrees and all reports of Clinton scandals have been swept from the front pages of US newspapers.

I predict a continuing wave of terrorism up until the elections or until Clinton declares martial law and cancels the elections.

At one time there was due process. If an asset or property was to be confiscated or seized then the government had to pay for it. However, under the Act of Terror (Clinton's 1995 Anti-Terrorist Act), if you are defined as a terrorist by the Fed then you loose your property rights altogether as well as your income (ie... home and guns).

Now guess who gets to make that definition? Why the Pres. himself - Bill Clinton.

It's hardly clear the White House needs the power it wants. Even without more power, the Clinton team is tapping phones at a record pace. The Washington Post estimates the number of federal taps will top 700 this year, more than twice the 1992 figure.