Sunday, February 15, 2004

Let's talk: Patriot Act

We received many letters in response to last week's Forum feature on the USA Patriot Act.

We must protect all our needs better

I disagree with much of the Patriot Act and think it's bad for America. I agree with the general idea and think it's good for America, which is to protect Americans. But the act undermines the American government by taking away our liberty.

One purpose of the Constitution is to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity," as clearly stated in the Preamble. This act makes our government appear weak. Therefore, what we should do is find a way to protect the American people that doesn't deny us our rights.

Hannah Leguillon, Bridgetown


Patriot Act is big government at its very worst

It has long been the hue and cry of the right that we need to get rid of big government.

The terrorism act just proves that their cries are just another case of whose ox was being gored.

The Bush administration is getting rid of big government, all right - by trading it for a very small government of a select few.

This form of government is known as an oligarchy. Other oligarchies have included the Soviet Union, as well as lots of small Third World countries.

Gwen Billingsley, Carrollton, Ky.


We must be united in fighting terrorism

I feel that all Americans should be behind the Patriot Act. It was created to fight terrorism. If there is any American who will honestly say they don't mind terrorists bombing our buildings and crashing our planes, I would like to hear it. But I think the people should support any act that will help to abolish terrorism.

We all need to have faith in our leaders no matter what personal opinions we have. After 9-11, we cannot afford to be a divided country.

Kelley McCabe, Green Township


Laws passed in haste endanger freedom

These concerns were voiced to many members of Congress before the USA Patriot Act was passed:

• Know what you are voting on, because this far-reaching legislation will place broad powers in the hands of John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge - too much power.

• If you delete the unconstitutional portions from the act, is there anything left?

Here are some concerns after the passage:

• The above concerns were not taken into consideration and corrections are now being called for.

• In the even similar legislation under circumstances similar to 9-11 is ever considered, will it be passed in a panic, as was the Patriot Act?

History has proven that governments left unchecked will naturally evolve into tyrannical entities.

Richard L. Banks, East Price Hill


'Probably' doesn't cut it for librarians

The mere fact that the designers of the Patriot Act went to lengths to create a title that implies that those who question this act are unpatriotic demonstrates how this administration wishes to silence those who would disagree.

Forgive me, Attorney General John Ashcroft, if I take no solace in your suggestion that the provisions concerning librarians "probably" won't be used. According to the act, I won't know if you have used them. I don't want you to ever be able to use them.

Linda Regensburger, Withamsville


What might happen without Patriot Act?

I believe the Patriot Act is good and is necessary to protect our nation from terrorist attacks. It carries out useful duties such as making wiretaps easier and instituting stricter immigration rules, which benefit our security.

The Patriot Act has definitely helped our nation in a positive, not negative, way. Who knows what could have happened in our country if it wasn't for the Patriot Act?

Leah Dinkelacker, Green Township


Original patriot would be horrified

The Patriot Act is the work of pseudo-patriots who aim to permanently expand the government's police authority. The Bush administration asks the American people to trust blindly that it will not use these extraconstitutional powers to snoop indiscriminately into the affairs of law-abiding citizens.

A true patriot named Thomas Jefferson once said, "In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

Jefferson would surely be horrified by the scale of human mischief at work within the Patriot Act's 132 pages.

Bill Dundas, Florence


Nothing good comes of giving up rights

I can't say that I see anything positive about the Patriot Act. It eliminates probable cause as a minimum for investigation and searching. It puts my personal information at the fingertips of the government. The bill allows for "sneak peak" searches that don't need a warrant.

All this is going to do is take away the rights of American citizens. I'm not saying that our country shouldn't try to stop terrorist attacks, but I think sacrificing my personal rights is a bit extreme, don't you?

Chester Knapp, Clifton


Peeking, sneaking provisions disturbing

I think portions of the Patriot Act are very dangerous. For example, Section 216 allows use of electronic surveillance devices without probable cause or court supervision. The government attorney can monitor subjects by merely certifying to the court that the use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation. This is not limited to terrorist activity. Judicial oversight provides a crucial check on government activity.

I also oppose the "sneak and peak" Section 213 provision, which allows property to be searched and seized without immediate notice to the owner. Notice is crucial to due process.

And I resent the implication that those who oppose this ill-conceived law are unpatriotic. On the contrary, as a citizen and a lawyer, I hold the United States Constitution in great esteem and believe that it is very patriotic to uphold its basic principles.

Cynthia Summers Lewis, Clifton


Evildoers want us to give up liberties

The Fourth Amendment protects the innocent against arbitrary arrest; law enforcement must show probable cause. An official uninvolved in the investigation must issue a search warrant. These protections, if given up through the Patriot Act, will let the evildoers win.

What makes our country the best to live in is our very freedom we have traded away in panic. How can we show the world that democracy works if we erase freedoms when pressured?

When you cannot trust gathered intelligence, you should not do away with the checks and balances that are there to protect us.

Paula Glover, Hamilton

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