Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) said terrorists groups such as the Taliban bear a resemblance to Nazis and should be punished, but he warned of limits on civil liberties in the fight on terrorism Tuesday night in the Alumni House.
The GW College Republicans hosted Barr, a conservative lawmaker who represents Georgia’s seventh congressional district.
Barr spoke to about 40 students, emphasizing the need for decisive military action in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States.
As a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, Barr voted in favor of anti-terrorism legislation but said he is wary that it may infringe on the privacy of U.S. citizens.
Barr was clear about his stance on the Bush administration’s reaction to the Taliban.
“If it looks like war and sounds like war, then it certainly is an act of war,” Barr said in reference to the attacks.
He maintained his view that the United States should not hesitate to declare war on the Taliban and its supporters.
“We didn’t deal with the Nazis using diplomacy; we brought them to their knees with our military,” he added.
Barr said although the Taliban is currently a serious problem, terrorism would continue to plague the United States even if the military destroys their forces tomorrow.
Barr also said throwing money at airports will not improve safety.
“If the FAA has not done a good job safeguarding our airports because of incompetent employees, we need to get rid of them instead of giving them billions of dollars to be incompetent with,” Barr said about security failures.
Barr concluded his remarks by admitting that it has been hard to generate interest in privacy issues after the attacks, which he said is unfortunate. He then reiterated the need to classify the country’s actions toward the Taliban as warfare.
“War is black and white. Diplomacy is very gray,” he said. “The time to mix the two ended Sept. 11.”
Barr said President George W. Bush can play by different rules than he could before because the country is engaged in war. At the same time, Bush must take great care to protect the rights of lawful immigrants, he said.
After the event, senior Mike Jackson said he agreed with Barr on privacy issues.
“I am confident that Congressman Barr will protect the freedoms of the American people that have been overlooked in the past couple weeks,” he said. “As a resident of Georgia, it was informative to hear his comments and beliefs concerning these pressing issues.”
Micah Kagan, a GW student and self-proclaimed Democrat, said he agreed with Barr’s remarks.
“I was pleasantly surprised that he was not as partisan as I thought he would be,” Kagan said. “It’s nice to know that both parties can agree on the privacy issue.”
College Republicans Chair Shannon Flaherty said she was happy to host Barr for the third time on campus.
“He’s a very good friend of our club,” she said. “He always brings in a good crowd and has a good discussion with us.”