Friday, March 14, 2003

Red Alert for Bill of Rights, Part 1:
Nat Hentoff has a great piece in The Village Voice about the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 ["Red Alert for Bill of Rights!"].

Here is my take on the bill from The Winchester Star this week:
Editorial: Not the American way

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Americans have had to grasp the knowledge that our citizens, shores, and flight patterns are no longer as safe as they once were. But at the same time that we cope with the events of that horrifying day, we must also not forget how our nation differs from those we are fighting against.

Take the recent capture of alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaik Mohammed — a great victory, proving that our government should continue to concentrate on the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and Al-Quida, and not get distracted with an invasion of Iraq. Mohammed’s capture has led to widespread calls for him to be tortured until he tells our military what we want to know. Official policies — not to mention international treaties — prohibit torture. As well, the act of torturing is not how a civilized society should be treating criminals we have arrested. It is not the American way.

Since the passage of The USA PATRIOT Act, the citizens of our nation are starting to find out what exactly was in this document and how it will effect our nation in the future even though most elected officials did not read the document before they voted on it.

Recently, public libraries and bookstores across the nation have begun posting notices warning their patrons that the law, "prohibits workers from informing you if federal agents have obtained records about you." Unlike traditional search warrants, federal agents no longer have to show that people are suspected of crimes or possess evidence of a crime. This is not the American way.

According to published reports, passengers on airlines will now be subject to sweeping background checks, including criminal records and credit checks, before being able to purchase a plane ticket. Why does the federal government need to know about your credit rating? Again, this is not the American way.

Now, the Bush Administration is presenting an updated version of The PATRIOT Act, entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act. If passed, this law will grant even broader spying power capabilities to federal agencies on Americans.

These acts by those who say they are trying to preserve "freedom" are in fact decimating the rights endowed by our creator as Americans. This is not the American way.