PATRIOT Or Big Brother?

FoxNews has a piece that asks about the losses in civil liberties since September 11, especially the PATRIOT Act.

As a conservative, I’m all for a vigorous homeland defense, and if that means profiling Arab Americans, that’s fine. 100% of the hijackers were Arabs. If a group of acid tongued rail-thin blondes start hijacking aircraft, then they should be profiling Ann Coulter. But profiling young mothers and Congression Medal of Honor recipients is simply idiotic.

The PATRIOT Act skirts the line of constitutionality. Some of its provisions should be and probably will be struck down by the courts. Yet at the same time, there’s been no massive quashing of dissent in this country. John Ashcroft hasn’t started building detention camps. We’re not all standing at attention in front of the telescreens for the Ten Minutes Hate. (Unless you’re watching a Democratic politician speaking, in that case you’re probably seeing a good minute or more of hate towards conservatives and Republicans.)

The fact remains that we are at war with an insiduous enemy that can enter our borders at will. Tying the hands of law enforcement to gather intelligence on potential threats only works towards the benefit of terrorists. As with Iraq, the stakes are now too high to wait for one of these groups to detonate a dirty bomb in the DC subway or Manhattan.

There need to limits set on these new powers, that is certain. Some of them need to be repealed once this war is won (and crushing militant Islam is the only way to win this war, just as we did with Nazism and fascism). We most definitely need to be exceptionally wary of these powers, and I don’t fault the media for being skeptical of them.

However, none of that alters our current situation. We are at war. In wartime, sacrifices must be made. Freedom of speech does not encompass blabbing military secrets to The New York Times, nor does it include giving out intelligence that would let our enemies know what terrorist cells we know about and which ones we don’t. These are things that simply cannot happen if we are to survive this challenge. The PATRIOT Act is hardly perfect, and it needs to be carefully monitored, but a balance must be struck between protecting the personal liberties of those who might do us harm and protecting the liberties of all Americans.

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