Judge Andrew Napolitano, the author of “Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom,” joined Glenn Beck on The Glenn Beck Program Wednesday to discuss the legal issues surrounding the conflict in Syria, the NSA spying scandal, and libertarianism.
In Beck’s opinion, Napolitano possesses “one of the best minds” out there today, and is a man who “actually can save our nation.”
Beck began by playing “devil’s advocate” on Syria, asking solemnly, “what about the children?”
“The lynchpin for American involvement in a foreign war is not revulsion at what’s happening,” Napolitano replied firmly. “The lynchpin for American involvement in a foreign war is, will our freedom and security be affected if we don’t get involved? Answer: no. How could we possibly be affected by a war 6,700 miles from here?”
Napolitano proceeded to lay out four circumstances under which the American military can legally get involved in a foreign war, based on “the treaties we’ve signed and the body of international law to which we agree.”
1) “When we’ve been attacked. Hasn’t happened, we haven’t been attacked by Syria.”
2) “When we are about to be attacked. When the enemy’s at the gates, we don’t have to wait for them to fire the first bullet. When an attack is imminent… Not the case with Syria.”
3) “When we’ve been invited into the country of an ally that’s been attacked…Doesn’t apply for Syria.”
4) “When a country has violated an international norm to which it has agreed, and the U.N. has authorized us to do it.”
Some might say the use of chemical weapons has violated an “international norm,” but Napolitano pointed out that Syria didn’t sign the treaty against the use of chemical weapons.
He then went a step further: “Who’s used chemical weapons on their own people? How far are we from Waco, Texas, where federal agents used chemical weapons to murder 76 Americans in 1993, in the Clinton administration? Can you imagine if China or Russia wanted to bomb us to punish us for what we did at the time?”
Beck then asked Napolitano whether any of what is happening constitutes treason, saying “common sense” tells him fighting on the same side as Al-Qaeda certainly seems like aiding and abetting the enemy.
“[Treason] would be providing material assistance to an organization that is waging war, or a state that is waging war against you,” Napolitano began. “The government prosecutes people for providing material assistance to terrorist organizations – that’s life in prison. How could the government itself provide material assistance to a terrorist organization?”
When Beck pointed out that the administration would argue they’re not providing assistance to Al-Qaeda, they’re providing assistance to “the good guys,” Napolitano noted that if Assad falls, Al-Qaeda will kill all those “good guys” who stand in their way, take their weapons, and take control.
“If we do anything to help Al-Qaeda by harming Bashar al-Assad, by weakening him, by degrading him, by leveling the playing field of the battlefield, as John McCain said, that will be the moral equivalent of providing aid and comfort to the enemy, that is known as treason,” Napolitano said. “And if we bomb a country, if we enter the country militarily absent those four conditions we just talked about, the president could be charged for a war crime for which there is no statute of limitations.”
The two briefly discussed the developments on the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, before Beck asked if the judge would “press for treason” if President Obama decides to strike Syria, and if he believes we should impeach him?
“Yes, I believe we should impeach him for the NSA spying alone,” Napolitano responded without hesitation. “It is the most massive, organized, systematic violation of expressly articulated Constitutional freedoms in the history of the United States, again, putting aside the Civil War era. Treason would be more difficult. Why? A treason charge would have to be brought by a federal prosecutor, which he controls.”
We are not only less safe as a result of such programs, Napolitano argued, we are also less free.
He referenced a line from a former head of the KGB, “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.”
“There are 4,400 federal crimes…You can find a criminal act to apply to almost anyone,” he said. “The reason that that doesn’t happen is because we have areas of human behavior immune from government surveillance…but when the government can watch everything we do, and listen to everything we say it will, if it wants to… find something you did or said that violates one of those 4,400 crimes and then ruin you with a prosecution, and really ruin you with a conviction.”
“Freedom requires breathing room,” he concluded, and Beck added that it also needs morality.
So what does the future look like? Both agreed that Americans on both sides of the political spectrum are increasingly disgusted with and fed up with the parties. Is there a possibility of a “real libertarian movement for the first time in 100 years,” Beck asked?
“Look, do I think that Rand Paul could lead us to an era of prosperity, happiness, and small government…? The answer is yes,” Napolitano responded. ” That will presume that there is a constituency for that, and that people are elected to Congress who agree with that. But just having a president in the White House who would shy away from power, rather than use it to his own ends, would be something the likes of which the country hasn’t seen in 175 years.”
And it’s very likely, he added, that such a constituency will exist.
“I think we are about to endure some of the most trying times in the post-World War II era and the electorate will react to that in 2016 by moving in huge numbers in the direction of a libertarian, or libertarian-minded candidate, someone like Rand Paul,” he commented.
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