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December 23, 2005

How can I oppose the Patriot Act? Quite easily, actually…

Ms. DS writes, I think you are wrong on the Patriot Act. I think they have caught a LOT of criminals that meant harm to America. I would like to ask one question: How in the cat hair are they going to catch those that want us all dead if there is NOT some form of surveillance?

Here is how I responded:

  1. I’m looking for those who conduct the surveillance to abide by the old-fashioned standards in the Constitution. Quaker anti-war activists or upper-middle-class college-students who ask for a library inter-loan copy of Mao’s Little Red Book are not threats. Nor are old ladies boarding airplanes – period. The truth of the matter is that nearly every American is not a threat to the national security. If you want to surveil, get a warrant the old-fashioned way. Go through the flimsy tests required for making your case to the judge. Let Americans be secure in their papers and, in the meantime, we shouldn’t permit the government to assemble “enemies lists” made up of people who dare to publicly dissent from the official government policy (yours truly would be included there). I don’t want them going through my private records because I had the gall to question their policies.
  2. There’s something very fundamental being lost here – the very thing that makes America unique and special. I’ve written about one portion of this on the blog – the bad bargain of trading liberty for security.
  3. If the claim were true that they’ve “caught a LOT (emphasis yours) of criminals that meant to harm America” (a strange sentence construction by the way – usually you have to commit a crime to be a criminal) then I think the White House would’ve provided the facts, not to mention the numbers, necessary to back up that claim. They didn’t. That appears to be a very strong “argument from silence” demonstrating that they DIDN’T (emphasis mine) have the numbers necessary to back up the claim. Show me the numbers!

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