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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

The land of the free?

Does your name appear on any of the government’s lists of suspicious people? How would you know?

The Fort Lauderdale protest was deemed not to be a credible threat and a column in the database concludes: “US group exercising constitutional rights.” Two-hundred and forty-three other incidents in the database were discounted because they had no connection to the Department of Defense — yet they all remained in the database. [my emphasis]

The 1970s, the 1950s... this isn't new. The only difference is that this time, we voluntarily gave the power to the government; we invited them to spy on us. What did everybody think the Patriot Act was all about, anyway?

They said they would do this – and I certainly believed them. What I didn't believe was they'd be responsible about it, or respect individual liberty. It’s been a very long time since I’ve visited the public library. Not because I’m subversive, but because it bothers me enormously to know that somebody could watch what I read. What if I choose an author who has written something I don’t know about – but about whom the government is concerned? Think that would be a flag? How would you know?

The Patriot Act, approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has made it easier for the FBI to conduct secret searches, monitor telephone calls and e-mails, and obtain bank records and other personal documents in connection with terrorism investigations. Critics said the proposed renewal would do too little to let targeted people challenge national security letters and special subpoenas that give the FBI substantial latitude in deciding what records -- including those from libraries -- should be surrendered.

The Senate is locked up right now about renewing those few parts of the Patriot Act that haven’t become permanent. Thank goodness somebody is standing their ground – finally! I hope it dies a painful death. - because never for one minute did I trust the government with that kind of power. As things turn out, looks like I was right, and I couldn’t disagree more strongly with Trent Lott when he says:

Some prominent Republicans defended the surveillance, arguing it was necessary to combat terrorism. "I don't agree with the libertarians," said Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.). "I want my security first. I'll deal with all the details after that."

Since few places were more secure than Siberia at one time, I think I’ll try to hold onto my civil liberties, thanks. People have already fought too hard to get them.


  • At 12:41 PM, Blogger Mark said;

    As a proud member of the Fargo 42, who was banned from Mr. Bush's local appearance because I had (gasp!) written critical letters to the newspaper, I have to guess that I'm on some list somewhere. What's funny about my story is I once ran for state legislature. I would be *shocked* to find that the North Dakota Republican Party didn't have a dossier on me. And yet, when they added her to the Fargo 42 list, they got her name wrong. If this is how they're running the war on terror, we're all in a heap of trouble.

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