Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Heartland Does Get It

The 'conventional wisdom' has it that the liberal elites, those who traitorously insist on criticising the current regime, are located on the coasts. 'Real Americans' live in the heartlands and are perfectly happy with the current regime's programs. A recent editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune puts the lie to that so-called wisdom. Real Americans, no matter where they live, are terribly concerned with the trend towards demolishing constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties in the name of security.

The president wanted a vote making the soon-to-expire Patriot Act permanent. After impassioned negotiating, a filibuster and a last-minute fight between the House and Senate, lawmakers instead opted to extend the law for one month -- a move that buys time to explore whether the Patriot Act is actually worthy of America's law books.

Propelled through Congress by Republican leadership in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the law has never undergone the thoughtful scrutiny any such measure merits. More and more lawmakers -- even some of the president's most dependable Republican backers -- are wondering whether the Patriot Act is all it's cracked up to be.

The president couldn't be surer that it works. "In a war on terror," he said last week, "we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment." So the president asserts, but what moves him to say so? He's not cited a single instance in which the Patriot Act has proved pivotal in averting terrorism. Yet somehow, even in the absence of proof, the assumption prevails that the Patriot Act is all that stands between American tranquility and terror.

It's a dangerous assumption to make -- especially when American liberty is at stake. That's the point the president seems to miss -- and that the skeptical seek to emphasize. Many of the Patriot Act's provisions, they grant, raise no concerns at all. Their misgivings focus on a few provisions that have greatly broadened the government's power to invade personal privacy.

This law expands the ability of law enforcement to conduct secret searches and surveillance. It permits the FBI to paw through citizens' medical, financial and mental-health records without notification or permission. It enables investigation of citizens even if they're not suspected of criminal conduct. Perhaps worst of all, it permits noncitizens to be jailed for the most threadbare of reasons -- and authorizes indefinite detention without public judicial review.

It's hard to see the patriotism in that arsenal of repressive tactics. Indeed, it's hard to imagine liberty-loving Americans condoning such strategies. Those who do surely must believe they'll never be the subject of the government's gaze. But what leads them to think so? History teems with stories of innocent people enduring persecution by unrestrained government. This country's founders wrote the U.S. Constitution to shield its people from such suffering.

When lawmakers gather in the New Year, they'll have only a month to explore the legitimacy of the law's most worrisome provisions. It's up to the White House to prove that the sabotage of freedom is in fact necessary to safeguard it -- that the Patriot Act is indeed patriotic.
[Emphasis added]

Once again, the STrib nailed it.


Blogger Willy Jo said...

how many times do you vote fer yerslef in a day? ru a republicdum er sumthin?

you no cuse yer cheetin & votin more than once to get yer massage across.

12:57 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home