Response to Chicago Sun-Times’ “Check prying patriot, but don’t take all its teeth”
Although we live in the United States, a country ruled by a Constitution and Bill of Rights which stress an individual’s freedom from government intrusion, the Sun-Times editorial board would rather we live under a repressive, meddling dictator just so that we can live in complete security, free from all threats of outside attacks (“Check prying Patriot, but don’t take all its teeth,” Oct. 13).
The changes the board wants made to the Patriot Act will not make it acceptable. The Fourth Amendment clearly states that, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The Patriot Act now allows the government to conduct searches without even notifying the subjects. The editorial claims that if the agents doing searches inform subjects a week after the search is conducted, all is well.
But as the American Civil Liberties Union points out, “Notice is a crucial check on the government’s power because it forces the authorities to operate in the open.” For example notice allows subjects to point out irregularities in a warrant, such as the fact that the police are at the wrong address or that the agents are exceeding the scope of the warrant. This protection of the Fourth Amendment is completely obliterated by the Patriot Act. Instead of the Sun-Times rallying its readers to demand its repeal, the board is actually encouraging this unconstitutional behavior.
The fear of outside attacks should not let us Americans accept living in a country which attacks our liberties. The mission of the government is to protect us not only from terrorists, but also from it.