Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: <i>Freedom Alert!</i> .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Freedom Alert!

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez urged Congress to renew the expiring components of the Patriot Act today. That in itself should raise warning flags among those who are concerned with civil rights for American citizens. He justified his position by stressing that we haven't abused these powers yet, so they should be extended.

The reason these components of the Patriot Act - including the ability to obtain search warrants without a Judge's order, to notify citizens after their property has been searched, and to obtain records of citizens reading habits without authorization - had a shelf life is that, in the aftermath of 9/11, there was concern that citizens' rights might be trampled due to the outpouring of righteous indignation because of the attacks on our homeland. Now that we've had a chance to view them with cooler heads, it seems irresponsible to continue to subject our population to the unconstitutional tactics that these components permit.

In a post 9/11 world, every effort should be made to protect us from terrorism. But the denial of rights spelled out in the Patriot Act as it was written can lead to overt government intrusion into innocent aspects of every American's daily life.

The government hasn't used the provisions in the Patriot Act as much as they'd hoped because they were temporary provisions, and knew that if they were abused, they wouldn't be renewed. Now that they're up for permanent inclusion, the government won't be held to the same constraints.

The potential for abuse here is tremendous, and if renewed, these provisions could leave all Americans at risk of government intrusion in their private lives. More and more, it seems like the party of "less government" is seeking to infuse the federal government into our private affairs in the name of national security.

I hope this scares you as much as it does me. Although I have nothing to hide, I don't cherish the idea of being investigated because I check out a copy of "Catcher in the Rye" from my local library and find my house trashed in a search for terrorist paraphernalia because of it.

Don't think it'll happen? Just wait. If these provisions get renewed, you'll see a lot more citizens' rights get trampled than have happened in the past.

In the meantime, I think I'll head to the bookstore and stock up on what may be considered "subversive" literature before it's outlawed.


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