The United States Senate just released a report on the activity of the CIA in the months following 9-11. The report brought into question the techniques the CIA has used over that time to get information out of people they feel a threat to the United States. All of us who lived during that time know how unsettling life was during those days. And if we are truthful to ourselves, we don’t feel anymore secure today than we did at that time.
We Americans are a paradox. We hold high our liberties and our freedom, but we have difficulty giving those liberties and freedom. We demand our second amendment to have firearms, but we want to eliminate abortion – there is a moral contradiction. We are outraged that liberals are forcing same-sex on our society but we don’t want government interference in our individual lives – there is a moral contradiction. We want the borders tightened and keep the immigrants out, but we want free trade and for other nations to buy our product – there is a moral contradiction. We are like the Cox Cable ad, “we want our cake and we want to eat it, too.”
Our liberties are only as good as the liberties that we grant to others. Following World War II, society was so incensed at how the Germans, Japanese and Russians had treated not only prisoners of war, but civilians, that the world came together and formed the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions was made up of four treaties and later added three protocols for standards of international law. Those international laws became the basis for what we call “human rights.” For the United States (the CIA in particular) not to honor those laws (whether on American soil or off of American soil) is a contradiction to the rights and liberties we all hold dear.
As our grandparents have said to all of us, “the end never justifies the means.” I am mindful of a story in the Bible (Matt 21:23). Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism — where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’-we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
If we really believe in our heritage as Lincoln said, “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Liberty and freedom (human dignity) is not just an American thing, it is for ALL people.