“Sometimes a right, once extinguished, may be gone for good.”
-U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero
I won’t lie. The Patriot Act scares me. Mostly because, let’s face it, it’s huge and no one knows what the hell it says. Yes, yes, Michael Moore hijacked an ice cream truck and drove around reading the Act to Congress members he felt neglected to puruse the bill. But beyond that, do you and I know what it says? Not I!
Declaring that personal security is as important as national security, a judge Wednesday blocked the government from conducting secret, unchallengeable searches of Internet and telephone records as part of its fight against terrorism.
Hey, I am not saying we don’t need to catch terrorists, so don’t even go there with me. It’s the “secret and unchallengeable” bit that scares me. Have you ever seen The Net? All right, maybe it isn’t as bad as that, but as my opening quote suggests, it’s a slippery slope.
This Slate article summarizing and analyzing the act states:
The truth of the matter seems to be that while some portions of the Patriot Act are truly radical, others are benign. Parts of the act formalize and regulate government conduct that was unregulatedóand potentially even more terrifyingóbefore. Other parts clearly expand government powers and allow it to spy on ordinary citizens in new ways. But what is most frightening about the act is exacerbated by the lack of government candor in describing its implementation. FOIA requests have been half-answered, queries from the judiciary committee are blown off or classified. In the absence of any knowledge about how the act has been used, one isn’t wrong to fear it in the abstractóto worry about its potential, since that is all we can know.
So I recommend reading the Slate article in full. I plan to. (Yes, I admit I haven’t made it through.) I just think that we need to be educated and aware of the things that are happening to us. We need to know both how the government plans to catch terrorists AND how it might impede on the rights we blissfully take for granted.
Read up kids!