Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Either pass The Patriot Act or insult dead heroes

Now that that Patriot Act is clearly on its way to being passed, I can publish this diatribe I have been sitting on for a week or so.

Following are excerpts from an article in the Wall Street Journal about the Patriot Act. It paints an either/or fallacy: either support the Act or insult those who died on 9/11. Furthermore, its blatant appeals to fear undermine whatever logic lies buried within the body of the article. Most importantly, this author politicizes the Patriot Act as much as she accuses its opponents of doing. The Patriot Act is not about morality. It's not about safety. It's about LAW. If it allows actions that are against the law, the government shouldn't be passing it. End of story. If I, as an American citizen, could be classified as an enemy combatant and thrown in jail indefinitely, without having access to a lawyer or my day in court the way Jose Padilla has, then we are breaking the law. I want every terrorist in jail. I want no more Americans killed. But we must work within the law. We must change--not scrap, but change the Patriot Act so that it doesn't strip away our Constitutional rights.

Here is the introduction and the conclusion of the article (all emphasis mine.)

Our Right to SecurityAl Qaeda, not the FBI, is the greater threat to America.
Monday, January 30, 2006 12:01 a.m.

One of the most excruciating images of the September 11 attacks is the sight of a man who was trapped in one of the World Trade Center towers. Stripped of his suit jacket and tie and hanging on to what appears to be his office curtains, he is seen trying to lower himself outside a window to the floor immediately below. Frantically kicking his legs in an effort to find a purchase, he loses his grip, and falls. That horrific scene and thousands more were the images that awakened a sleeping nation on that long, brutal morning. Instead of overwhelming fear or paralyzing self-doubt, the attacks were met with defiance, unity and a sense of moral purpose. Following the heroic example of ordinary citizens who put their fellow human beings and the public good ahead of themselves,the country's leaders cast aside politics and personal ambition and enacted the USA Patriot Act just 45 days later. A mere four-and-a-half years after victims were forced to choose between being burned alive and jumping from 90 stories, it is frankly shocking that there is anyone in Washington who would politicize the Patriot Act. It is an insult to those who died to tell the American people that the organization posing the greatest threat to their liberty is not al Qaeda but the FBI. [This may be the only thing we agree on.] Hearing any member of Congress actually crow about "killing" or "playing chicken" with this critical legislation is as disturbing today as it would have been when Ground Zero was still smoldering.


It is an irresponsible violation of the public trust for members of Congress to weaken the Patriot Act or jeopardize the NSA terrorist surveillance program because of the same illusory theories that cost us so dearly before, or worse, for rank partisan advantage. If they do, and our country sustains yet another catastrophic attack that these antiterrorism tools could have prevented, the phrase "connect the dots" will resonate again--but this time it will refer to the trail of innocent American blood which leads directly to the Senate floor.

Ms. Burlingame, a former attorney, is the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, the pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

My heart goes out to her. But maybe she doesn't have the clearest head on this matter.

Read the entire article here.

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