Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Positive Step Towards Improving the Patriot Act

Yesterday the House voted not to renew a portion of the Patriot Act that allows investigators to obtain people’s library checkout records and bookstore receipts. This is a positive step towards removing the portions of the Patriot Act that cross the line between strong policing and invasion of our freedoms.

The measure passed with a solid 238-187 vote, which provides hope that enough libertarian-minded Republicans are willing to remove the other bad ideas included in the original Patriot Act. Opponents say we need the ability to look at library and bookstore records in order to apprehend terrorists. But there is and should be nothing wrong or suspicious with reading books—any books. Any number of innocent Americans could get caught up in this police method if it were ever to become common practice.

We must always remember that the War on Terror is not just about preserving our lives. It’s about preserving our freedoms too. And much of freedom is based on our ability to live our lives in relative anonymity, without probing by our government. We need vigorous policing, but we also need vigorous freedoms.

Allowing criminal investigators to look at our bookstore purchases and library records opens a door that should not be opened. The potential for abuse is too great. As I’ve said before, I trust our law enforcement to almost always do what’s right, but I don’t trust them to never do what’s wrong. That’s why there are barriers created. That’s why, in the Constitution, our Founders ensured law enforcement could not have free reign.

The House just took and important step forward in reestablishing an important barrier. Now we need the Senate to follow suit and President Bush to have the wisdom to not veto the changes.


At 4:33 PM, Blogger ChrisJ said...

Alan, you make great points here and I would like to add that some would say the terrorists suceeded in attacking our economic and military institutions, but maybe it was our freedom, the one thing we put above most other countries that they were attacking.

I don't have any idea what it takes to run a country, much less defend one, but a country that prides itself on freedom, should stand firm on not letting the actions of the terrorists inject a fear that takes our freedoms away.

I agree with you Alan and hope the politicians are looking directly at the position most Americans hold on their freedom.

I for one do not want to lose my freedoms and in most cases would say do whatever to secure those freedoms we hold so dear.

At 4:47 PM, Blogger ChrisJ said...

I know the following comment does not belong on this thread, however, did you or anyone see the article about the government forgiving $40 billion in aid/borrowed money from other nations? Is this correct?

And if so you think they may be interested in forgiving some of the US citizens student loan debts? Because I would surely love a little forgiveness for my student loan debt.

At 5:25 PM, Blogger Lokon said...

hear hear,
both to the post and to the preceeding comment.

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised bUsh doesn't throw blogs into the mix of his creation of paranoid theological authoritarian government. Anyone can become a "Certified Suspected Terrorist" by our goverment today.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Dave said...

The question about bookstores and libraries that everyone seems to overlook is whether that is what starts an investigation or whether it is merely a tool available for persons already under investigation.

If someone is already under investigation, then all it does is confirm or dispel a suspicion, as in, yes, that guy is spending a lot of time looking at airplane schematics and plans to the local nuclear plant. Since we already know he has ties to al Qaeda, spent 6 years in Afghanistan, and was trained in explosives, we might want to watch a little closer when the target of the investigation goes on "vacation"

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Since we already know he has ties to al Qaeda, spent 6 years in Afghanistan, and was trained in explosives...

If law enforcement already knows all that and they need the suspect's library check-out records to convince them this guy is a threat, we've got some serious problems. Fact is, such powers are unneeded for law enforcement to keep us safe and only open doors for possible abuses.


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