Bush and the Patriot Act: Declaring War on Our Rights?
When I decided to write this essay, I knew without hesitation that I would write about Washington's response to the terrorist attacks that struck New York and Washington. I did not realize how difficult such an undertaking would be, as I find myself in a somewhat an uncomfortable position. Forcing myself to confront the issues at hand means deciding which freedoms are acceptable casualties in this war and for whom. To allow Attorney General Ashcroft to lead us into a new era of American justice that resembles McCarthyism or the internment of Japanese-Americans a half-century ago would be regrettable.
I do not mean to imply that the US response should be weak; to the contrary, I support an expansion of this effort into Iraq. I've always had a passion for government, ours in particular. The difficulty comes from choosing how to defend that government, as it is our secular and modern way of life that is under attack. And though quoting ancient Greek is cliché, I find the rule of law to be reassuringly passion-free and just. My support for the ACLU stretches back ten years, which is considerable as I am only twenty years old. I also strongly support strengthening our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The inability of the FBI, CIA, Justice Department, INS or NSC to detect the terrorist attacks before they were executed was grossly delinquent; to borrow a phrase from The New York Times' Maureen Dowd. This breach in intelligence is even more shocking when the amount of money poured into national security annually is considered. That we need added protections in this time of national crisis is indisputable. However, the manner in which we defend our way of life is by no means inconsequential.
The country and world need to have unwavering confidence in our government at this time. The world is now watching our actions closely. We are on the right side of justice in this war and should not give up our moral high ground in achieving our ends. Washington's immediate, bipartisan response to the terrorist attacks speaks well for our representatives and reflects the revived sense of patriotism prevalent nationwide. However, we are now sufficiently distanced from the attacks of September 11 to hold the Administration's proceedings to the very American standard of justice, which we are now engaged in defending. I am shocked to witness this country quietly succumb to the recent blatant and inappropriate expansion of powers the Justice Department and White House have assumed. This is not melodrama. A democratically elected US President and his Attorney General are proceeding as if they were reading out of a rouge states' instruction manual. This country is too great to fall to cave-dwelling terrorists who redirect a population's frustrations at us. It is not un-American to question the legitimacy of the recent anti-terrorism legislation, though risky for politicians...