There are those who believe that we as Americans must repeal the Patriot Act, grant habeas corpus to foreign terrorists, and refrain from counterespionage on our own soil in order to discover spies who have infiltrated us. These restrictions are necessary, they say, because Liberty demands it.
This is a flawed belief system. Let someone who used to be a conscientious objector, who evolved out of that dangerously naive viewpoint, describe why.
Read the Declaration of Independence, which is the basis of our American ideal of Liberty.
In what order are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? Does the order have any import? Or was the order chosen at random?
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Life has to be first. It takes Life to enjoy Liberty. Nobody can be free if they are dead. Security, or safety, is the method by which Life is protected. National defense, and the intelligence methods used to protect it, are central to security and a cornerstone of any sensible national government. Once Life is protected, then Liberty is ensured. And once Liberty is protected, by restrictions on the coercive powers of the government against its own citizens (not on foreign spies and terrorists), then the Pursuit of Happiness is protected. It has to be in that order because that’s the only way it can actually work.
Liberty does not trump Life. Life is the trump, Liberty is the partner suit, and the Pursuit of Happiness is a lesser suit.