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Thursday, January 22, 2004
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Patriot Act breaches right of privacy

Opinion Editor Jeff Brubaker is a junior history major from Weslaco.


Liberty is one of the pillars of our society. This is made clear by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and is something that politicians like to say they support when it comes time to get elected. Reality, however, shows that when times get tough, liberty is the first to be sacrificed on the altar of security.

If anyone in this country has a confused idea of security it’s George W. Bush. His administration brought to life the ironically named Patriot Act, which curtails the activities of Americans just as easily as terrorists. In his recent State of the Union Address, President Bush called the abilities given to law enforcement agencies in the Patriot Act necessary. But is it necessary for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to know what you are writing in your e-mails? Or to know what books you have been checking out of the library?

While such measures can be justified when a suspected terrorist is being investigated, these acts are completely unwarranted when the subject of investigation is a mere citizen going about his or her daily business. In fact, the FBI can search any citizen’s house and that person would never have to be told. So much for the right of privacy. Can anyone remember when law enforcement had to get a warrant to search someone’s house?

And whatever happened to probable cause? Under Bush’s Patriot Act, law enforcement no longer needs to justify probable cause before they begin treating a citizen as a criminal. While one can be reasonably sure that such infractions have been committed in the past by various law enforcement agencies, the difference now is that there is nothing an innocent citizen can do about it.

Taking liberties away from Americans is no way to protect America. Wouldn’t any intelligent person see that what the enemies of the United States want most is for the protections and guarantees of the U. S. Constitution to be thrown aside; that laws such as the Patriot Act are doing more damage to our country than any terrorist attack?

What Americans need is a president who will not do the terrorist’s work for them. President Bush’s controversial laws and unpopular wars are all done without the mandate of the people, only with the mandate of the electoral college. And the sad truth is that any candidate currently running is capable of doing a better job.

Who would you rather have defending this country: a former National Guardsman who did his best to fight the North Vietnamese invasion of Texas or a former NATO commander? Who would you rather have guarantee good and affordable heath care: an oil tycoon or a former doctor?
Bush’s reaction to terrorism is not a new story, but was simply a rushed and ill-planned solution to a much bigger problem. His incursions on civil liberties are more than enough to alarm regular citizens, not just watchdog groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. He must be held accountable for his misdeeds and shown the door next November.