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We Should Not “Balance” Our Constitutional Rights With Security

As Ben Franklin so famously asserted, if we’re going to go down the road of compromising our rights for security, we’ll deserve – and almost certainly end up – with neither.

Prior to an initial court appearance from his hospital bed, Boston bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev was finally read his Miranda rights, after already having provided possibly self-incriminating, information to federal officials.

The situation with Tsarnaev and the decision not to initially read him his Miranda rights when he was first arrested highlights the fact that we, as a nation, are on the edge of national hysteria.

Today, some are still suggesting that we have to “balance” our Constitutional rights with security, and that it was a good thing we did so by not initially telling Dzohkar Tsarnaev of his Fifth Amendment rights.

As Ben Franklin so famously asserted, if we’re going to go down the road of compromising our rights for security, we’ll deserve, and almost certainly end up, with neither.

Our Fifth Amendment rights are among our most important, because they protect us from abuse of and by the one, single institution that we have empowered to imprison and even kill us: our government.

The government of the United States is an extraordinary and precious thing, from its beginning as a noble experiment in freedom and democracy to today.

Buy, like all governments, with the power to grant life and death, it needs clear constraints.

Committing horrible crimes, even acts of terror, is wrong.

It’s brutal and horrible and criminal.

This is why it’s so very, very important that we hold ourselves to the highest standards possible in prosecuting such criminals.

The Bush Administration took us in some very, very wrong directions

One of the biggest, besides lying us into war, was to begin tearing apart these very constitutional rights, particularly those relating to the Fourth and Fifth Amendments which protect us from the most egregious abuses of government.

Now we have an opportunity to right that wrong, to put ourselves back on the side of the patriots who founded this country and all those who have fought and died to keep it a free democratic republic ever since.

It’s time to acknowledge the mistake in not reading this young man his Miranda rights as soon as was possible, and reverse this loophole that was never even voted on by us or our representatives.

But even more important, it’s time to stop carving holes in our Constitutional rights that protect us from unreasonable searches, seizures and arrests, and, instead, begin strengthening them.

America should again become a shining beacon of liberty to the world.

And that begins with repudiating the abuses of the Bush years and holding close to our founding principles.