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Patriot Act infringes on civil liberties, allows for privacy invasion

War Watch

By Veronica Limeberry
On March 17, 2008

In response to the recent figures that put this current war at costing billions of dollars, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz recently remarked, "For a fraction of the cost of this war we could have put Social Security on a sound footing for the next half-century or more."
To describe this phenomenal cost, New York Times author Bob Herbert declared that this spending was like a "cancer inside the American economy."
I would like to contend that this war is not only a cancer to our economy but even more disastrous, a cancer to our civil liberties and freedoms as American citizens.
To illustrate this, one need only take a look at the Patriot Act, passed barely a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
What exactly is the U. S. Patriot Act? It sounds very American and well, patriotic, right?
The U.S. Patriot Act of 2001 is actually an acronym which stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001."
Not really anything to do with patriotism directly, but it still sounds good, right?
But let's explore the hard facts to judge how really "patriotic" this act really is.
First of all, the Patriot Act authorizes officers to be able to detain immigrants to the United States indefinitely - doesn't sound very constitutional, does it?
The Patriot Act also includes something fondly called "sneak and peek searches," which allow law enforcement officers to search homes or businesses without permission from the owner, occupant or search warrant.
This begs the question, "What about the Fourth Amendment?"
In addition to these "sneak and peek searches," the use of "National Security Letters"
allows the FBI to search telephone records, e-mail records, and financial records without a court order.
Wave goodbye to that hard won right to privacy.
I encourage you to read this Act in its entirety, as the list of civil liberties which it violates does not end there.
Now, how was such an act passed by our representatives on Capitol Hill, who are supposed to be supporting our rights and representing us as their constituents?
According to Congressman Jim McDermott, most of the representatives did not even read the bill.
Congressman John Conyer Jr.
supports McDermott by stating, "We don't really read most of the bills. Do you know what that would entail if we read every bill that we passed?. [it would] slow down the legislative process."
So there you have it! Our trusted representatives in Congress are not even taking the time to read the bills they pass into laws that are supposed to represent our interests as voters.
There is some hope left, however.
Brandon Mayfield was a victim of one of the "sneak and peak searches" after the Madrid train bombings, and ended up becoming wrongfully jailed for two weeks.
After officials realized the mistake, Mayfield was released and sent a public apology from the United States government.
Fortunately, Mayfield was aware that words were not enough to rectify the injustice of destroyed civil rights, and he took his case to court.
On Sept. 26 of 2007, Judge Ann
Aiken ruled that these searches were, in fact, unconstitutional and in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Thus, even as rights are being corroded and destroyed, there are still those who take it upon themselves to fight for the protection of their constitution and their government, (and in this case, the protection of their constitution from their government).
And so, I encourage you as a fellow citizen to take a look around you and to evaluate how much you appreciate the freedoms granted to you by our Constitution.
Think about what are the most important aspects of our society to protect from those who wish to harm us.
Is America not a great country because of its freedoms and civil liberties?
The outcome is up to you and what you are willing to do to protect what you have before it is shriveled and gone.

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