| COMMENT Bob Weaver 2002|
Is it "drastic measures for drastic times" or is it the full-blown arrival of Orwell's "Big
Brother is watching you!" Many historians believe we may have arrived, declaring the
Patriot Act will have little to do with terrorism.
Questioning the just passed laws and assumed powers, often leads to the questioning of
patriotism. So for the record, I believe in America and its great constitution and believe
myself to be a patriot, but feel compelled to express my vital concerns. Nationalism should
never be confused with patriotism.
The CIA is back in business spying on Americans, sharing sensitive information with other
agencies without judicial review.
The federal government in the "War on Terrorism" has assumed the summary power to
allow the FBI to spy on Americans in their churches, on the Internet, in bookstores and in
Does anyone remember the recent FBI history of J. Edgar Hoover, who kept tens of
thousands of files on Americans he disliked, when someone said they were
Examination of the files indicated most of the information was gossip or contained
information about people's personal life that had little to do with them being enemies of the
Starting now, be careful what you read, investigate or complain about.
The Homeland Security measure encourages TV installers, truck drivers and meter readers,
people who have access to family dwellings, to report unusual or suspicious activity to
authorities. The program is called TIPS, which could end in a crusade to turn in your
Supporters say it will only apply to the "bad guys," and if you are not doing anything wrong,
you have nothing to fear. History does not hold this true.
The "power" allows the government to instruct personnel or install equipment in libraries to
watch patrons reading habits, and if librarians inform the patrons what is going on, they
can be prosecuted.
The Bush administration is giving itself the summary power to silence dissent by equating
criticism with aid to terrorists, declaring public debate would "erode our national unity ....
diminish resolve .... give ammunition to America's enemies."
The attorney-client privilege of communications, long a constitutional right, can be
intercepted and monitored by the Justice Department and their lawyers.
The establishment of military tribunals, which ignore the constitutional rights of citizens in
civilian courts, described as necessary in high-risk times, with the implication it will only be
used against our enemies.
The new law allows the government to conduct secret searches, with notification being
made after the fact in many cases.
There is much, much more.
It is shades of Japanese interment camps, blacklists, free speech restrictions and other
powers assumed by the federal government in times of crisis. Nearly all have been viewed
as an overreaction to frightening circumstances.
Many constitutionalists believe the government already has ample powers to combat the
threats at hand, and the new "tools" are unnecessary at best and, at worst, dangerous.
The Homeland Security Bill also contained tax breaks, contracts and exemptions, many of
which seem questionable.
Where are the gun rights folks and the NRA on these issues which crush constitutional
rights and civil liberties?
These "powers" need continued deliberation and a watchful eye.