By: Susan Knowles
It’s difficult to turn on the television or read an article on the Internet without hearing about the Ebola virus.
Understandably, many are concerned and some are beginning to question the leadership of this country in handling the potential threat to the U.S.
Recently, President Barack Obama, assured the American public when he said, “First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.”
He further guaranteed Americans that his administration was taking precautions and working with countries in West Africa to ensure that someone with the virus wouldn’t be able to get on a plane bound for the United States.
Obama went a step further to say, “In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home.”
All of the words, meant to comfort and convince the public that they are safe, fell by the wayside when a man recently traveled from Liberia and allegedly failed to reveal on a healthcare questionnaire that he had been in contact with someone stricken with Ebola.
After traveling through several states and eventually landing in Dallas, Texas, Thomas Eric Duncan is currently being treated for Ebola and those he came in contact with are being quarantined.
There is another confirmed case of Ebola and several cases being watched that have American’s on-edge.
A freelance reporter for NBC has been diagnosed with Ebola after returning from Liberia and now there are concerns that three additional cases may show positive results for the Ebola virus.
Washington, D.C., Utah, and Hawaii, have enacted quarantines because they suspect patients may have the virus. However, Hawaii’s State Department of Health, now feels confident that they have ruled out the possibility of Ebola with their patient.
Many Americans are beginning to voice their concerns about the spread of Ebola and are calling for Obama to restrict travel from countries in West Africa because of the potential threat to U.S. citizens.
So far, Obama has not deemed it necessary to curtail travel from countries in West Africa to the U.S.
Must the U.S. wait for Obama to decide if restricting travel into the U.S. from those countries with Ebola is a threat to America or is there another solution?
There have been those critical of the U.S. Congress for surrendering their power, under Article I of the U.S. Constitution, especially when it comes to matters of national security.
In 2005, then Sen. Barack Obama, wrote to his Senate colleagues, vehemently opposing the extensive wire-tapping powers given to then President George W. Bush by Congress, under the provisions of the Patriot Act.
Obama argued that the provision was a “sweeping power never authorized in any context by Congress before the Patriot Act.” It was his opinion that Congress had relinquished too much of its own legislative power to the executive branch.
Obama’s concern now seems contrary to his current use of a “pen and phone” to extend his presidential powers to include, what some believe, are powers designated only to Congress.
Also, in May 2010, Obama penned his signature to the National Security Strategy document, which sets forth an overview of U.S. national security strategy, including those pertaining to biological threats.
While the document covers what a biological threat is and how it can detrimentally impact the well-being of the U.S., it also indicates that, “unintentional or deliberate outbreaks of infectious disease…,” is also a national security threat.
Currently, there is no evidence that any of the Ebola patients brought the virus into this country as part of a biological threat of terrorism.
Whether it can be claimed that any of the victims of Ebola came here knowing that they could spread the virus unintentionally or otherwise is not as clear and may never be answered.
However, Ebola is obviously an infectious disease that if left unchecked, could have long-term societal, economic, and political consequences, given the devastating effects of this virus.
It has already been determined that Ebola poses a national security threat to West Africa and requires our military to be deployed there to help in the fight.
Ebola is also a threat to the national security of our country.
The President would have to agree with this claim since he wrote in his own 2010 National Security document that the outbreak of infectious diseases is a national security threat.
Congress has the authority and the responsibility to protect the citizens of this country from a threat to national security regardless of whether the president ever chooses to act.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the senior Republican on the Senate’s health committee, when speaking about the Ebola threat to West Africa said that the U.S. must take the Ebola threat as seriously as it does the Islamic State terrorist group. He then gave his support to Obama’s request for millions to be used in the fight to eradicate Ebola in West Africa.
Alexander also said, “This is an instance where we should be running toward the burning flames with our fireproof suits on.” “This is an emergency.”
Most Americans would agree that they want to see Alexander and other members of Congress with the same enthusiasm and passion to protect the American people.
The burning flames have now reached the U.S. and Congress should be running to use their Constitutional power to restrict travel into the U.S. from countries that threaten the national security of the U.S. We have an emergency on American soil!
Congress can and must do everything “necessary and proper” to protect the citizens of this country when the president refuses to recognize the threat.
Congress must act now to stop Ebola from coming into the U.S. before it is used against us as a biological weapon or before it has a chance to reach pandemic proportions.
Susan Calloway Knowles, is a licensed California psychotherapist, former practicing California attorney, author, and political/cultural blogger.
Her website is SusanKnowles.com. Susan’s book, a political fiction, is entitled Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember and is available on Amazon. Susan can be reached by email at [email protected].
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