Anti-terrorism law threatens civil liberties

I have opposed the “Patriot Act” from the very beginning. As we remember the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I thought it was appropriate to re-post this on the blog.

Bloomington Herald-Times, November 18, 2001

To the Editor:

President Bush has done an amazing job leading the nation through the crisis that began September 11th. I fully support Operation Enduring Freedom to destroy the terrorist network and punish those nations that support terrorists. We have been attacked and it is wholly appropriate to respond to an act of war with military action.

However, while Bush has shown greatness in dealing with this matter, I am very concerned about the recently passed anti-terrorism bill, known as the “USA PATRIOT Act.” This bill places too many restrictions on civil liberties. The authority to monitor Internet activity is so broad that a lot of people will have their privacy violated who have nothing to do with any type of violence. Many people with small connections to terrorists could be charged with aiding them even if they had no idea what was being planned. The PATRIOT Act also gave law enforcement the ability to search someone’s home or office in secret.

While this bill is aimed at foreign terrorists, it could potentially be used to harass domestic political activists, such as pro-lifers or environmentalists. Given reports that the Clinton Administration used the IRS to audit conservative groups, this is a definite concern were we to ever elect someone like him again.

The enduring value of America, established though our Constitution, is freedom. It is our freedom that makes us different from the totalitarian regimes that have threatened us, from the Soviet Union to the Taliban. We must never relinquish that freedom.