Congratulations to the organizers of this year's Independence Day activities. They have rightly selected "Freedom is Not Free" as the theme for the parade. Indeed, freedom is not free.
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Consider, in just the last six years our government has suspended the right of habeas corpus for those allegedly guilty of certain behaviors and beliefs and authorized wiretapping of U.S. citizens without judicial oversight or review.
It has shielded administration officials from their critics by herding dissenting citizens into "free speech zones," thus ensuring that their voices would not be heard, and grossly abused the Constitution's separation of powers by concentrating power in the offices of the president and vice president. It also has engaged in torture, in violation of our own laws and international treaties (a practice shamefully supported by our own Sen. Ted Stevens). The dismal list of constraints on our freedom could go on.
Our leaders have incarcerated our freedoms in the name of national security, and have set the stage for an imperialist America, engaged in war without end.
As we celebrate our independence from an earlier despot (also known as "George"), and as we reflect on our imperiled freedoms, we would do well to remember the words of our founding fathers.
It was Benjamin Franklin who said, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither," and James Madison who said, "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
Let us commit ourselves to loosening the chains that bind our freedoms. Freedom is, in fact, not free. It is our job to liberate her.
President, Veterans for Peace