San Diego Business Journal Don't Give Up the Country's Soul

The number of people who say they would be willing to give up some freedoms in order to have more security alarms me. I am reminded by the scripture in the Bible that says, "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul?" The soul of the United States of America is our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. How will it benefit us if we give up our freedom to become like inmates in a prison of our own making instead of executing justice on those responsible for these despicable deeds?

We must recognize that certain fanatic sects of the Muslim religion have declared war on the United States, and their fanaticism may cause them to be used as pawns of egomaniac leaders of Islamic nations for their own purposes. Their hatred and contempt for our beliefs, our form of government, and our way of life lead them to believe that they can triumph over us as easy prey.

Unfortunately, they are right. We have allowed ourselves to become too lax and complacent. We allowed ourselves to be lulled into a nation of "passive watchers" instead of "active doers." Even the training of flight crews is based on the premise of "don't resist, cooperate" instead of resisting takeovers.

While we can't prevent every act of terrorism by fanatics, there are things we can do without giving up the basic freedoms that make our country a "beacon of hope" to the rest of the world. What good does it do to ban knives from aircraft if terrorists have access to planes as employees of airlines or airports? Do we really want government agents monitoring our every activity , opening our mail, accessing and reading our e-mail, and listening to our cell phone calls? Personal privacy without government intrusion is one of the basic precepts of our Constitution. Do we want to give up our personal privacy to government in exchange for possible increased security from terrorists?

A few things come to my mind that could have prevented the wholesale loss of life caused by the planes crashing into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon. What if the Federal Sky Marshall program were re-established? Or, what if flight personnel were armed and trained to resist and disarm hijackers instead of cooperating with them. What if there was a button in an airline cockpit that a pilot could push to alert the FAA that plane was being hijacked? What if this alert to the FAA was tied into a system where a military plane would immediately be dispatched to escort a hijacked plane? If all else fails, what if military personnel were permitted to shoot down planes that are on obvious "suicide missions?" Yes, there still would have been loss of life if these systems and protocol had been in place on September 11, 2001 but it would have been in the hundreds and not the thousands.

We have the longest undefended borders and coastlines of any country in the world. We must control our borders and immigration responsibly but we don't want to do it at the cost of becoming like "Berlin" under the communist Russian regime. Our government must provide for the security of citizens but not at the cost of Constitutional freedoms.

Michel Nash-Hoff
San Diego