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Letters of Marque and Reprisal

April 26, 2009

How would the Founding Father’s respond to terrorism?

By Daniel Quintero 3/01/09

September 11, 2001, a day when the United States was attacked and that will live in the hearts and minds of Americans for many years to come. On this day, the United States was hurt, but the people were not. Americans wanted to fight back.

They wanted to hunt down those who were responsible and bring them to justice. Yet when the War on Terror began, the fight against terrorist ended.

The War on Terror brings us no where closer to ending terrorism. Just like with most other propaganda terms, the word “terror” can connote many different ideas. What is terror? Who fits into the term of terrorist?

This blanket term made the war on terror utterly meaningless. Eight years after the start of this “War,” and Osama Bin Laden is still at large, America is involved in two official quagmires, both which have not produced any benefit. Perhaps the only real achievement of the war on terror has been the successful thwarting of civil liberties.

There is a better way to defeat terrorist. Most people know about the enumerated powers of Congress as specified in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. Congress is given the power to declare war, but immediately following, it is given power to grant letters of marque and reprisal. Reprisal means the actions one takes to deal with a person who has injured him. Marque means the crossing of borders.

Basically, a person or group in America who has been injured by a person or group in a different country can retaliate outside of America if the opposing country does nothing to help. Not only would this reduce the deficit, for it would mainly be individual groups contributing and not scale costly war.

Although it is not a full declaration of war, it is a good way to retaliate against terrorist. This is why Ron Paul introduced legislation in 2001 and 2007 that would grant letters of Marque and Reprisal to the President.

The goal of these resolutions was to allow the President to focus exclusively on finding Osama Bin Laden and other top terrorist. Since the terrorist are not directly fighting on behalf of a country, it is silly to declare a war. But a letter of Marque and Reprisal would help the President focus exclusively on the individuals responsible.

The President could then work with groups in other countries to offer incentives for catching the terrorist. Instead of an entangled alliance, it would be two groups working on each other’s behalf. Once the terrorist were captured or killed, the letters would expire, allowing for minimal collateral damage.

The Constitution gives Congress and the President certain powers because these powers are important and need to be implemented at certain times. It is not bad enough that our government does things that are unconstitutional, but to actually ignore the Constitution when the answers lie inside it is beyond any comprehension of thought.

The Letters of Marquis and Reprisal were the perfect measures to take after 9-11, and they still are. Go and tell your legislator to end this war on terror and to grant these letters to the President. Then after that, justice may once again rule this land and the terrorist responsible for those attacks will know the iron fist of the United States.

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