Friday, 30 December 2011

N.H. Paper Warns Against "Dangerous" Ron Paul

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Jack KennyIn a front-page editorial Thursday, the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader told readers of the statewide daily that "Ron Paul is a dangerous man." While the Republican presidential candidate's libertarian views on domestic issues are attractive to some voters, the editorial conceded, "it is Paul's position on issues of our national security that are truly dangerous."

"He has repeatedly said that we should allow Iran to continue to develop a nuclear weapon," is one of the charges against Paul in the editorial, written by publisher Joseph W. McQuaid "This is the same country whose leadership vows death to America, the 'Satanic power,' and who wants Israel wiped from the map." Yet the editorial page of the same newspaper two days earlier featured a column by Patrick J. Buchanan, in which the columnist cited the statement of Pentagon spokesman George Little in clarifying recently televised comments by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

"The secretary was clear that we have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon," Little said. While statements by President Obama and the other GOP presidential candidates have either alleged or implied that Iran is right on the verge of producing a nuclear bomb, Rep. Paul has argued against forcing a military confrontation over a weapon that might not even be in the developmental stages — one that, according to the Pentagon spokesman, the Iranian government may not have even decided to build. Paul insists that our nearly nine-year war in Iraq over alleged "weapons of mass destruction" should be instructive in that regard.

In the interest of "full disclosure," I will note here that the Union Leader's support for the Iraq War became a source of friction between the editors and me when I was writing a twice weekly column for the paper, and the Union Leader dropped my column at the end of 2003. In the spring of that year, around the time President George W. Bush made his dramatic landing on the U.S.S.  Abraham Lincoln and made a triumphant speech beneath a banner marked, "Mission Accomplished," Publisher McQuaid wrote a front-page editorial about those he called "the losers" in the controversy over the Iraq War. Prominent among the war opponents he named as "losers" was Pope John Paul II.

The Union Leader has not always been in favor of bombing and invading nations that have not attacked us and pose no evident threat to our country. When President George H. W. Bush was leading the run-up to a war with Iraq over that nation's conquest and occupation of Kuwait in 1990, the Union Leader editorialized frequently and fervently against Bush's call for the United States to lead a coalition of nations to forcibly liberate Kuwait and create what Bush described as a "new world order" under the auspices of the United Nations. Yet the paper editorially supported the second President Bush in his utopian quest for a "global democratic revolution" to rid the world of "evildoers."

In 1992 and '96, the Union Leader supported the presidential campaigns of the aforementioned Patrick J. Buchanan, who, like Ron Paul, has opposed both Iraq wars and who consistently opposes going to war for reasons other than the defense of the United States, our people, our territory, and our honor. Like Paul, Buchanan has called for an end to America's self-imposed burden of world policeman and has pointed to the folly of continuing to occupy bases in Germany and Japan 66 years after the end of World War II and two decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

But the Union Leader began changing its editorial tune in the year 2000, with the passing of publisher Nackey Loeb, the widow of longtime publisher William Loeb. Under McQuaid's stewardship the former Loeb newspapers (the Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News ) went from Buchananite to Bush Lite in fewer than five years.

The papers continue to preach the virtues of small-government conservatism and adherence to the Constitution. Yet their editorial pages have been silent about the recently passed provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that allow the President to use military forces to apprehend Americans, both abroad and here in "the homeland," and hold them indefinitely in military prison, without charge and without trial, if they are suspected of collusion with known terrorists or terrorist organizations. And McQuaid accuses Paul of taking a stand that is, in the publisher's word, "nuts," because the Texas congressman insists on the due process rights that the Congress and the President have cavalierly cast aside. The New Hampshire Union Leader/Sunday News supports the Obama policy of targeted killing of American citizens as "enemy combatants," though they might never have committed an act of violence against the United States or been anywhere near a battlefield.

"Paul believes that if a U.S. citizen throws in with al-Qaida or associated groups overseas, where he plots American death and destruction, we need to somehow find him, arrest him, and bring him back to stand civil trial here rather than eliminate him, even if that is the only option," McQuaid complains. But one who "throws in with al Qaida" to plot death and destruction of Americans might fairly be said to have committed treason. And while it may have escaped the publisher's notice, the Constitution of the United States includes instructions for dealing with accused traitors. Those instructions include a trial with a heightened due process requirement. Article III, Section 3 says:

No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

But that's only the Constitution, which appears to count for little in the age of Bush and Obama, or on the editorial pages of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. In times past, those newspapers at least appeared to hold that document in what might be called "minimum high regard." Today they seem to regard the Constitution of the United States the way Dorothy Parker once described a novel she reviewed: as something not "to be tossed aside lightly," but rather, "thrown with great force."

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