now with more cowbell
Your Liberty: Patriot Act should be history, not the future
Posted: 2005-02-18 00:00
No comment(s)
Author: Phil Gengler
Section: The Stute

The American government is at war, and this conflict is not being waged in Afghanistan or Iraq. This war is being fought right here on American soil, and it is being fought against American citizens. It is the war between the government and Americans' civil liberties.

Unquestionably, the USA PATRIOT Act expanded the powers of the federal government, and of law enforcement agencies, to effectively spy on citizens. With this power, one would expect to find some sort of check or balance; there is none.

The Act allows the government or law enforcement agencies to compel businesses to turn over any information it is asked for; it also makes it illegal for that business to notify the affected persons of that fact.

This Act has been the basis for other power grabs at the expense of our civil liberties. Had Congress voted down the Act, it would have sent a clear signal that security needs to be balanced with the very liberty it is to secure. Instead, its passage has opened the door for more and more legislation that erodes our liberty under the false pretense of securing America.

In his opposition to the Act, Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) said to the Senate, "There is no doubt, that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country where the police were allowed to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country where the government was entitled to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your e-mail communications ... the government would probably discover and arrest more terrorists, or would-be terrorists ... But that would not be a country in which we would want to live."

This year, several sections of the Act are due to "sunset," or expire. The Bush administration is pushing Congress to make these sections a permanent part of the law.

The USA PATRIOT Act was rushed through Congress so the government would not appear to be standing still; now we have had three years to consider it. We must not let the government make the same mistake again, this time without an expiration date. Let Congress know that the America we want to live in is an America where our basic liberties are protected.


No new comments are allowed.