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DIMINISHING RETURN

 


By Geoff Metcalf

May 23, 2005

NewsWithViews.com

"Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them;” --Frederick Douglas

Expanding the Patriot Act powers without adequate mitigation is a bad idea.

I too often note, "it is not a question of WHO is right or wrong but WHAT is right or wrong that counts." Plato once observed, “Those who are too smart to enter into politics will be governed by those who are not.”

During the NAFTA debates in 1991 strange bipartisan coalitions developed on both sides of the issue. Here we go again…Former Congressman Bob Barr recently noted, “When leading conservative groups share some of the same concerns as organizations on the other end of the ideological spectrum, I think it's time for Congress to ignore the hyperbole of the defenders of the status quo and pay attention.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, is planning a bill that would expand FBI subpoena powers as part of the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act. It is a way bad idea!

  • The bill would eliminate prior court review of private records sought by the FBI for intelligence gathering purposes.
  • The bill adds a provision that permanently reauthorizes eight intelligence-related sections of the Patriot Act that otherwise would expire December 31.

Frankly, ANY and all legislation should have sunset clauses. If legislation is good and supports the constitution and the republic it should be reaffirmed periodically. If legislation undermines key principles in support of partisan agendas it should atrophy and die.

Abuse of power under the color of authority is a bad thing regardless of who engages in the practice.

We are engaged in a 'War on Terror'. It is a real war with real bad guys wanting to do real bad stuff to the United States.

So what are we fighting 'for'? We are fighting for AMERICA! Right? Okay, 'What IS America?"

  • It isn't cities or ports, or rivers and mountains.
  • America...the essence of America, is crystallized in the founding documents:
    o The Declaration of Independence
    o The Constitution
    o The Bill of Rights.
  • Those founding documents were specifically designed to restrict and control government...not "we the people".
  • The 'Bill of Rights' doesn't GIVE us ANYthing. The Bill of Rights merely acknowledges 'God given inalienable rights'.
  • In other words NO one GAVE us ANYTHING...and since government did not give us anything they can't take away those gifts divinely granted.
  • For a government to presume to mitigate and control what God hath given is way beyond the scope of arrogance.

Ben Franklin once observed (correctly) that, "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security". However, that is exactly what our government is apparently asking us to do.

But we want and need our government to protect us from the evil that threatens. This is a classic ‘catch-22’. We want government to protect us from the bad guys...but if we permit them to undermine and abrogate our core principles, our 'God given' constitutionally guaranteed rights…what do we have?

Sen. Roberts would give the FBI new power to issue administrative subpoenas, which are not reviewed by a judge or grand jury, for quickly obtaining records, electronic data or other evidence in terrorism investigations.

The administration has been jonesing for this power for two years, but so far lawmakers weren’t buying.

Roberts' planned bill also would make it easier for prosecutors to use special court-approved warrants for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies in criminal cases.

Eight expiring sections of the law that deal with foreign intelligence investigations would become permanent. WAIT! Why make them permanent? Why not just extend them?

There is also a provision that authorizes wiretapping of suspected terrorists who operate without clear ties to a particular terrorist network.

"While we're fighting to bring provisions ... back into balance with the Bill of Rights, here we have the intelligence committee moving to give the government more power outside the judicial system to gain access to records of Americans," said former GOP Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia.

The administration is adamant that expiring provisions become permanent. That is a real bad idea on multiple counts.

If the expiring provisions ARE necessary extend them for a fixed period. If the onerous elements become permanent, then some subsequent administration will have another punitive government tool with which to harass critics. I am personally aware of at least two dozen Clinton critics who were harassed with punitive political IRS audits. Sadly, if government CAN abuse power government WILL abuse power. The simple solution is to mitigate that power for very specific reasons and for very limited periods of time.

© 2005 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's Web Site: www.geoffmetcalf.com. While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book!  E-mail: geoff@geoffmetcalf.com


 

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“When leading conservative groups share some of the same concerns as organizations on the other end of the ideological spectrum, I think it's time for Congress to ignore the hyperbole of the defenders of the status quo and pay attention.”