Highlights

 
Quotable
History is littered with wars which everybody knew would never happen.
Enoch Powell
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
July 26, 2005

Our Rights Suspended for 10 More Years


by Rep. Ron Paul

Congress passed legislation last week that reauthorizes the PATRIOT Act for another 10 years, although the bill faced far more opposition than the original Act four years ago. I'm heartened that more members of Congress are listening to their constituents, who remain deeply skeptical about the PATRIOT Act and expansions of federal police power in general. They rightfully wonder why Congress is so focused on American citizens, while bin Laden and other terrorist leaders still have not been captured.

The tired arguments we're hearing today are that same ones we heard in 2001 when the PATRIOT Act was passed in the emotional aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. If the PATRIOT Act is constitutional and badly needed, as its proponents swear, why were sunset provisions included at all? If it's unconstitutional and pernicious, why not abolish it immediately? All of this nonsense about sunsets and reauthorizations merely distracts us from the real issue, which is personal liberty. America was not founded on a promise of security; it was founded on a promise of personal liberty to pursue happiness.

One prominent Democratic opined on national television that "most of the 170 page PATRIOT Act is fine," but that it needs some fine tuning. He then stated that he opposed the 10-year reauthorization bill on the grounds that Americans should not have their constitutional rights put on hold for a decade. His party's proposal, however, was to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act for only four years, as though a shorter moratorium on constitutional rights would be acceptable! So much for the opposition party and its claim to stand for civil liberties.

Unfortunately, some of my congressional colleagues referenced the recent London bombings during the debate, insinuating that opponents of the PATRIOT Act somehow would be responsible for a similar act here at home. I won't even dignify that slur with the response it deserves. Let's remember that London is the most heavily monitored city in the world, with surveillance cameras recording virtually all public activity in the city center. British police officials are not hampered by our 4th Amendment nor our numerous due process requirements. In other words, they can act without any constitutional restrictions, just as supporters of the PATRIOT Act want our own police to act. Despite this they were not able to prevent the bombings, proving that even a wholesale surveillance society cannot be made completely safe against determined terrorists. Congress misses the irony entirely. The London bombings don't prove the need for the PATRIOT Act – they prove the folly of it.

The PATRIOT Act, like every political issue, boils down to a simple choice: Should we expand government power, or reduce it? This is the fundamental political question of our day, but it's quickly forgotten by politicians who once promised to stand for smaller government. Most governments, including our own, tend to do what they can get away with rather than what the law allows them to do. All governments seek to increase their power over the people they govern, whether we want to recognize it or not. The PATRIOT Act is a vivid example of this. Constitutions and laws don't keep government power in check; only a vigilant populace can do that.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Imagine an Occupied America
    3/10/2009

  • The Draft: Just Say No
    2/17/2009

  • Gaza Resolution One-Sided and Unwise
    1/10/2009

  • Obama's Opportunity
    1/6/2009

  • Whose Iraq Predictions Have Come True?
    9/23/2008

  • How Foreign Policy Affects Gas Prices
    8/23/2008

  • Getting Out of Iraq
    7/17/2008

  • Using One Tragedy to
    Create Another
    7/16/2008

  • Congress's 'Virtual Iran War Resolution'
    7/3/2008

  • War, Economy Can't Be Decoupled
    6/19/2008

  • March to War in Lebanon?
    5/22/2008

  • The Economy: Another Casualty of War
    5/20/2008

  • The Emerging Surveillance State
    4/8/2008

  • The Iraq War Ledger
    3/25/2008

  • Living by the Sword
    3/15/2008

  • Intervening Our Way to Economic Ruin
    3/14/2008

  • No to Torture, Yes to the Constitution
    3/13/2008

  • Stop Choosing Sides
    3/7/2008

  • War at Any Cost?
    3/1/2008

  • Protect America from the Protect America Act
    2/1/2008

  • The Ties That Strangle
    1/10/2008

  • Bombed If You Do, Bombed If You Don't
    12/11/2007

  • 'Homegrown Terror' Act an Attack on Internet Freedom?
    12/7/2007

  • Entangling Alliances
    11/15/2007

  • Struggling for Relevance in Cuba: Still No Cigars
    10/30/2007

  • Interventionism? Isolationism? Actually, Both
    10/25/2007

  • Support the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007
    10/21/2007

  • The Fear Factor
    7/31/2007

  • Don't Delay: US Out of Iraq Now
    7/14/2007

  • Signing Statements Erode Constitutional Balance
    7/12/2007

  • Recapturing the Spirit of Independence
    7/3/2007

  • Have We Forgotten 2003 Already?
    6/21/2007

  • Nonintervention: The Original Foreign Policy
    6/19/2007

  • The Price of Delaying the Inevitable
    6/5/2007

  • On Patriotism
    5/24/2007

  • Congress Must Do Its Duty
    5/22/2007

  • More Bureaucracy,
    Less Security
    5/15/2007

  • We Just Marched In (So We Can Just March Out)
    4/24/2007

  • More Pork for More War
    3/27/2007

  • Defund the War
    3/22/2007

  • The Original American Foreign Policy
    3/16/2007

  • The Scandal at Walter Reed
    3/9/2007

  • With Friends Like These…
    2/27/2007

  • In Congress, Opposing the War but Doing Nothing to Stop It
    2/15/2007

  • Congress Racing to Spend
    $1 Trillion on Iraq
    2/13/2007

  • Support the Troops by Ending the War
    2/1/2007

  • Inflation: The Hidden
    Cost of War
    1/30/2007

  • The Fatal Conceit
    in the Middle East
    1/23/2007

  • The Irrelevance of
    Military Victory
    1/16/2007

  • On the Mideast Escalator
    1/15/2007

  • Saddam Is Dead - So Are 3,000 Americans
    1/6/2007

  • 2007 Promises More of the Same
    12/26/2006

  • America's Original
    Foreign Policy
    12/19/2006

  • Who Makes Foreign Policy?
    12/12/2006

  • Congress to Ponder Conscription?
    11/28/2006

  • The Law of Opposites
    9/9/2006

  • This Will Come Back
    to Haunt Us
    7/21/2006

  • Avoiding War With Iran
    5/23/2006

  • Foreign Policy, Monetary Policy, and Gas Prices
    5/9/2006

  • True Foreign Aid
    5/2/2006

  • Policy Is More Important
    Than Personnel
    4/25/2006

  • An Embargo Is Not a Peaceful Alternative
    4/18/2006

  • Iran: The Next Neocon Target
    4/7/2006

  • Making the World Safe for Christianity
    3/30/2006

  • A Sense of Déjà Vu
    2/20/2006
  • More Archives


    Ron Paul is a Republican Congressman from Texas. He was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for President.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2014 Antiwar.com