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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years Later

Well, here we are at the sixth anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. Have we learned anything?

I am not talking about our bumbling national security guards and intelligence agencies. I am talking about you and I as Americans.

We as Americans can no longer take for granted that we are safe at home. The foreign terrorists effectively confirmed that. But I wonder, are we any safer now?

The USA Patriot Act was passed shortly after the attack, on the premise that it would make us safer in the United States, but has it?

It is slowly coming to light just how far the USA Patriot Act has damaged civil and constitutional rights in the United States. Three years ago a federal judge ruled the portion forbidding giving expert advice and assistance to groups designated as international terrorist organizations unconstitutional, ruling it impermissibly vague and violating the First and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Other provisions should also be declared unconstitutional.

One provision is the so-called 'sneak and peek' or 'delayed notification' searches of American households. Under this provision, government officials may enter your home or business without a search warrant and take anything they 'think' might incriminate you. All you know is you come home or enter your business later and find the place broken into and stuff missing. For weeks, months or even years you may think you were simply robbed. This was supposedly changed in the Patriot Act reauthorization recently to require the government to give you notice within 30 days, but with the opportunity for two 30-day extensions with the showing of good cause.

Another provision requires bookstores and libraries to make your viewing habits available to them upon request (ie without a court warrant) and forbids them from telling you the information was accessed. The reauthorization supposedly removed the automatic application of the gag order.

Under provisions of the USA Patriot Act, peace activists, social change advocates, members of the American Islamic society and even political opponents of sitting officials have found themselves denied the right to travel by commercial airliner because they have been included in the federal 'no-fly' list.

I am reminded of an old warning:

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor SafetyBenjamin Franklin

Have we forfeited the essential liberty of ourselves and our children? Only time will tell, I just pray we do not find out too late.

Anyone care for a yellow star or black triangle?

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