Debating real issues in safety

Trivial controversies hide discussion of civil rights violations.

by Keith Lawrence

It looks like itâÄôs finally safe to write to The Minnesota Daily. WeâÄôve gotten over Ross AndersonâÄôs âÄúracismâÄù and âÄúambitions for Fox NewsâÄù as well as unrelenting attack/defense of the UniversityâÄôs greek community. Then again, Paige Vigil knows âÄúhow to spot a womanizer.âÄù Maybe we could talk about a real issue? The Obama administration has just requested that three grievous powers granted to the executive branch via the USA PATRIOT Act, including the âÄúlone wolfâÄù provision, be renewed. According to The Washington Post, the provisions allow investigators to âÄúuse roving wiretaps to monitor suspects who have switched cell phone numbers, to obtain business records of national security targets and to track âÄòlone wolvesâÄô who may be acting alone on behalf of foreign powers or terrorist groups âĦâÄù DonâÄôt we need these provisions to protect us from terrorism? Well, no, actually. A 2003 report by the Senate Judiciary Committee found that the FBI had all the tools it needed to stop the Sept. 11 attacks. They just failed to properly use them. So, we have unnecessary provisions that strongly intrude on the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans and do nothing to strengthen national security. Sounds like a power-crazed neo-con scheme the Democrats âÄî the âÄúchange we can believe inâÄù party âÄî wouldnâÄôt give a second thought about letting expire. Except Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Al Franken, D-Minn., along with a number of other Democrats (and ultimately a majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee) voted to renew this provision. The strong opposition came from Republicans. This criticism is reminiscent of Bush administration Attorney General John Ashcroft when he called Bill ClintonâÄôs proposals for invasion of privacy a âÄúwholly unhealthy precedent,âÄù warning that privacy should not be abandoned âÄúin the name of national security.âÄù A few years later, Ashcroft became an adamant PATRIOT Act supporter. It looks as if our leaders donâÄôt object to the dissolution of civil liberties unless doing so constitutes a popular attack on the opposite party. Then again, I think I see a âÄúwomanizerâÄù and a sorority member binge drinking. Keith Lawrence Undergraduate student