Sunday, August 15, 2004

It's Not What We Don't Know...

"... that hurts us, it's what we do know that just isn't so." The quote is from Will Rogers, noted pundit of the mid-20th century, but it's just as applicable today.

Case in point: all of the badmouthing of the USA Patriot Act. According to some out there (such as all of the Democratic presidential contenders including the party's nominees for the ticket) passage of the Patriot Act has turned America from a democracy to a police state and shredded our Constitution. Of course, what the Kerry/Edwards ticket fails to mention is that they both voted for the Patriot Act!

It's been almost three years since the Act passed, and there is not one instance of rights abuse under the Patriot Act. Despite the claims of the doomsayers, the Patriot Act really did two things: it made the same laws that apply to the Mafia (racketeering) and drug traffickers apply to terrorism suspects, and it updated federal wiretap provisions to stay with current technology (mobile phones, email).

I don't have a problem if the next Al Qaida hijacking team will now have their cell phones monitored (after a court order has been applied for and provided), or if the next time we capture a suspected terrorist the FBI can examine the contents of his laptop computer and turn over any information to our intelligence services.

Since 9/11 there have been several publicized arrests of alleged terrorists. Some have been released, but many more have pled guilty (or have been convicted). We have not suffered another terrorist attack anywhere in the world (I don't include Iraq and Afghanistan because we are still militarily involved in these countries). We have seized bank accounts, broken up terrorist cells, and yet we are not rounding up all people of Middle Eastern descent and putting them into prison camps (as FDR did to Americans of Japanese descent during WWII).

In short, we are at war. We've been attacked by an enemy whose stated goal is the eradication of our country, our culture, and our predominant religions. The president and his administration have a very narrow row to hoe... protecting the country without throwing away the things that make our country great (our liberties). So far they've done an admirable job.

So, the next time you hear someone complaining about John Ashcroft or the Patriot Act and how bad and unconstitutional and un-American they all are... ask them to cite one instance of someone who has had their rights unjustly violated. Just one.

They can't do it, because it hasn't happened.

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