NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 4, 2005

Since September 11, bureaucrats and special interest groups have fought to place everything from peanut subsidies to steel protectionism into the category of national security; even federal law enforcement agencies have been expanding their powers, whether or not it has anything to do with enhancing security, says the Cato Institute.

To prevent this abuse, Congress could use its power of congressional oversight, but many members are often too reluctant to challenge law enforcement officials. Therefore, for freedom to prevail, three things are essential, says Cato:

  • Government officials must take a sober look at the potential risk and recognize that there is no reason to panic and act rashly.
  • Congress must stop federal police agencies from acting arbitrarily; before imposing costly and restrictive security measures, police agencies should be required to produce a cost-benefit analysis.
  • Lastly, government officials must demonstrate courage rather than give in to their fears; radical Islamic terrorists are not the first enemy that America has faced.

Furthermore, to counter the push for diminishing liberty, it is necessary to counter the specious arguments behind it. The most common argument is that 9/11 "changed everything." But life changed forever with the invention of gunpowder, germ warfare, and the atomic bomb. History is, in large part, the story of aggression's innovation. Restricting freedom cannot stop or turn back hostility's advancement, says Cato.

Source: Melanie Scarborough, "The Security Pretext: An Examination of the Growth of Federal Police Agencies," Cato Institute, No. 94, June 29, 2005.

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