Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Admitting a Mistake

Directly following 9-11 I was filled with a flood of emotion. They were mixed. My initial reaction was one of fear, but within hours it was replaced with anger and pride. I was indignant that someone would come to my country with an intent of harming my fellow countrymen and women. I can only imagine that others felt the same. At that moment I was willing to hunt them down and string them up for all to see as an example to those who would plot harm against us in the future.

As a nation we reacted much the same way. We gathered up our warriors and sent them on a mission to hunt down those responsible. In addition we passed sweeping legislation nearly immediately granting our government the ability to bypass our bill of rights.

At the time I was on board. I was wrong. At the time I didn't see this as handing over our rights willingly, but rather as a tool to hunt down terrorist. In short I was trusting our government to use the powers it was granted by congress, and thus the people, wisely.

The Patriot Act which had a sunset, but continues to be renewed, says that the FBI need not show probable cause, nor even reasonable grounds to believe, that the person whose records it seeks is engaged in criminal activity. It also allows for further investigation by the FBI if they simply don't like the books you are checking out from the library, or what you are writing on your blog for that matter.

This was a mistake. It was passed through Congress based on our fear. We were wrong. We should have headed the warnings of those sounding the alarm that we were giving up our civil liberties.

Do I still believe in hunting down those responsible. Yes. I do not believe we should change who we are to do so.


Becky said... are the first person I know who was originally on board and now admits that legislation was a mistake. Just out of curiosity, what changed your mind?

All In said...


It was actually a number of things. First, I truly believed that the government was only looking into the backgrounds of non-citizens. I do feel it wise to investigate the motives of those who wish to come to this country. However, I have learned first hand that both the Bush and Obama administrations have used specifically section 215 of the Patriot Act to investigate our own citizens. The tipping point was when I found proof of government agencies hiring people to monitor cell conversations even in my podunk Wy town. This amounts to nothing less than a blatant violation of our 4th Amendment Rights.

Our ancestors have faced more difficult challenges without the need to toss out our most important rights. I think we can do the same.

I guess the short answer is that I foolishly trusted our government because "my guy" was in power. I will not make that mistake again.

I wonder if Liberals currently trust their guy.

Becky said...

It's always easier to have faith in the purity of the motives of someone you agree with politically, and harder to critically evaluate their stances and actions. I think that's just human nature, and I'm guilty of it just as often as anyone else.

But in an ideal world, we would all always be skeptical, regardless of who it is...and we would recognize such skepticism as a healthy and important part of patriotism, instead of decrying it as anti-American.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I can allay your fears. I have always known the Patriot Act allows the government to investigate Americans, but it only allows investigation of US citizens with a court order:

(b) Each application under this section--

`(1) shall be made to--

`(A) a judge of the court established by section 103(a); or

`(B) a United States Magistrate Judge under chapter 43 of title 28, United States Code, who is publicly designated by the Chief Justice of the United States to have the power to hear applications and grant orders for the production of tangible things under this section on behalf of a judge of that court; and

`(2) shall specify that the records concerned are sought for an authorized investigation conducted in accordance with subsection (a)(2) to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.

And ALL Patriot Act related activities have both judicial AND congressional oversight.

I feel pretty safe about it even with this most deeply corrupt party in charge.

I am far more worried about my vote being disenfranchised because Democrats are stuffing ballot boxes with ACORN registered votes, or being targeted by the IRS than I am about being illegally investigated.

Scott said...

I can see your points. I think all in all, it was meant with good intentions. However, much like everything else in government, it's become manipulated to achieve political advantages, and has lost its original spirit.

To me, it's similar to what Nixon used against his enemies, only he didn't have a 9-11 event to make his actions legal.

Anonymous said...

It's tricky. I appreciate your post and your opinion of the Patriot Act, but I am not quite there with you.

I honestly do not care if somebody in law enforcement is reading my e-mails or listening to my phone calls, if that will help them to stop terrorist plots, such as the ones that were recently foiled in three places in the U. S. What do I care if some FBI agent reads about my son's grades in school or my recipe for pesto?

However, as a matter of principle, I do wonder if it went too far.

I was one of the people wondering how 9/11 could even happen. Were'nt they listening in? Weren't they connecting the dots.

Now they are doing so, and people object. The government cannot win in the minds of some people. Either they need the power to detect and repel terrorist plans, or we are sitting ducks.

Overall, I prefer the former.

All In said...

We have come a long way from give me liberty or give me death. Just how intrusive are we willing to let the government be? Where do we draw the line? Is it reading our emails? Listening in on our phone calls? Checking on what books you buy? What church you attend? Searching your home for illegal matterials?

We have already given away most of our 4th amendment rights. I guess most of us are ready to give up the rest of it. What is our safety worth if we dissolve our liberty to get it.

All In said...

Rguy - You know I have been thinking about what you said. That you are "okay" with government officials reading your emails or listening in on your phone calls. But you of all people should understand that it isn't about whether or not YOU are "okay" with it, but whether or not the CONSTITUTION is okay with it. If you look at the issue in terms of the 4th ammendment only, I believe the issue is more clear.