"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
--Preamble, Constitution of the United States
The country's "leaders" have failed in their most basic, fundamental, constitutional duty -- to provide for the common defense -- by letting the government's power to track terrorist communication lapse Sunday as of midnight. As a result, We the People have been left vulnerable to another September 11, 2001 -- or December 7, 1941.
The warlords in Tokyo who launched a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that fateful day -- "a date which will live in infamy" -- should have sent a thank-you note to the generals and admirals, the "intelligence" agencies and all the other sleepy watchdogs who were supposed to be on guard. But weren't.
Washington had to resort to Western Union relays to alert the American fleet, and by the time the warning had arrived at Honolulu, there was no American fleet left -- only a smoking remnant, and the valor of the surprised sailors and aviators there was wasted.
This week's lapse in American security is enough to bring back memories of poor Henry W. Stimson, the long-time American secretary of war and state who once refused to peek at enemy communications ("Gentlemen do not read each other's mail.") He soon learned better, and so did the country. But the lesson keeps being forgotten, and this time the National Security Agency's authority to collect phone records in bulk was allowed to lapse. And the country left blinded.
This time our enemies should thank Rand Paul and his fellow isolationists in the Senate who claim they are defending a principle of the American Revolution, namely the right to privacy, by leaving the country defenseless. "This is what we fought the Revolution over," claims Sen. Paul. He's forgotten the other American revolution, the one that far-sighted statesmen like Washington and Hamilton had to wage when they found that the first one had left us without a government able to defend us.
Now the irresponsibles are at it again. To quote what good old John McCain said of Sen. Paul, he places "a higher priority on his fundraising and his ambitions than on the security of the nation."
If he's looking for an emblem that captures his attitude toward national security, Sen. Paul might consider the ostrich, which this week replaced the eagle as the American symbol. The ostrich sticks its head in the sand, confident that because he can see no danger, it doesn't exist. It does. And the Rand Pauls ignore it at their peril and the country's.
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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.