This I Believe

Stephen - Dallas, Texas
Entered on February 11, 2007

This I believe:

– that all human beings are created equal no matter where they are born;

– that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights;

– that these rights are God-given, and that no government can bestow these rights, but can only deny their free exercise.

I believe that the Bill of Rights attached to the Constitution of the United States of America identifies those human rights.

I believe that the Constitution was designed to make government accountable to the people, and that the people must be forever vigilant in safeguarding those rights, lest they be usurped by those who covet power.

I believe that no person or government agency can be above the law.

– If you know that a crime is being committed and you do nothing to prevent it, then you are complicit in the crime. Just ask Zacarias Moussaoui, who expects to be executed by our government because he allegedly had foreknowledge of the attacks of 9/11, but he kept silent. Can he be held to different standard than any other person? Even a government leader?

– If you kidnap somebody, hold them against their will, torture them, and keep it a secret from the people to whom you are accountable, then you have committed a crime.

I believe that any government that creates secret prisons, holds people indefinitely without charging them with a crime, and denies access to legal representation and due process of law, represents every abuse of power that our great Constitution was designed to prevent.

I believe that protection from tyranny is not an American privilege, but a human right.

– If we are not diligent in exposing the crimes of our government, then in our complacency we are no different than the people who pretended not to see what was going on and let the Nazis rise to power.

I believe that a government must have a good intelligence system, and that it has a right to state secrets. But I also believe that when government officials commit a crime, they cannot hide behind a cloak of “classified information,” nor can they be allowed to hide shameful behavior behind such a cloak.

– For example, a few months ago a CIA employee was fired for blowing the whistle on her superiors. Her crime was not to reveal state secrets to our enemies, but to bring to the light of day the politically embarrassing violations of human rights by our government. Rather than charge that she was unpatriotic and disloyal, I believe that she had a moral obligation to speak out. Had she actually committed treason she would have been prosecuted, not fired.

I believe that the biggest crime of all is for a population to let the government ignore the constitution, and then accuse anybody who tells the truth of being unpatriotic.

I believe that the Constitution of the United States of America is the greatest document ever written. Despite many abuses, and despite its endurance for more that two centuries, I believe it is an extremely fragile document whose sacred freedoms can be easily given away and never again salvaged. I believe that the Constitution respects the rights of all human beings, not just Americans, and that it is the duty of every person to protect the Constitution.

This I believe, that every American can and must protect the rights of all human beings, no matter their heritage.