The Daily O’Collegian

Crockett Cobb
Contributing Columnist

For those of you sitting in the back of the classroom, America has initiated another front to its war.

Once the double take is over, go back and read that sentence again.

Yes, another front in the War on Terror. This time around, however, there aren’t any human casualties as a result of this front.

The casualties of this war are the basic rights of our progeny and us. The primary cause of these basic infringements is the nefarious bastard child of fear, the USA PATRIOT Act.

The PATRIOT Act was passed in the Senate with only 1 dissenting vote and passed in the House with a significant majority.

I know some of you are saying, “But hey, there was a sunset clause on that bill, and it was set to expire this year.”

Why yes, my friend, you’re correct.

The sad part of this is that the 11 of the 16 provisions of the PATRIOT Act are currently under consideration to be passed into law permanently. Versions of the bill have passed both the House and Senate, and are currently being meshed into one coherent law for President Bush to sign into law.

Some of my friends tell me I’m a little paranoid about the entire ordeal. I don’t believe them. Case in point is the latest use by the FBI of the PATRIOT Act.

On August 26, the FBI used provisions in the Act to demand library records from an institution in Connecticut. That’s right, library records. Thankfully, there are organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union to step in.

The ACLU has brought a lawsuit to protect the rights of the citizen involved, but the case is still pending.

If the government feels threatened by a person who is reading books, something is drastically wrong with the policies set forth by our representatives.

To paraphrase a quote from Ronald Reagan, “The scariest words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help,’” which in this case, is incredibly true.

If you remember back to September 2001, the citizens of the US wrote a blank check to the government to fight the War on Terror. On the “Pay to:” line, we collectively wrote, “whatever is necessary to make us feel safe again.”

Nowhere in our elections did we rubber stamp a progression into the Orwellian state of Big Brother.

Given the tendencies of the current President and Congress, the path the US is headed down seems far too much like that of represented by Orwell.

Four years later, our rights have suffered the drunken fondling of a government bent on “protecting” its constituents. Instead of being relatively safer, we’re only further paranoid by the random color code changes in the terror alerts.

We sit frightened in the corner watching England and Spain suffer terrorist attacks. However, unlike the Americans, the Spanish and English don’t roll over and let the government take control.

The British citizens started web sites with photos of people holding signs that say, “We are not afraid” and continued on with their daily lives. Americans persist in surrendering rights to the War on Civil Liberties in hope of some protection.

Benjamin Franklin put it most accurately when he said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

As often as this quote is thrown around when the aforementioned law comes up, it is still the most eloquent dissenting opinion to such evasive acts as has ever been stated. It is ridiculous to think that our liberties should be sacrificed for security from threats that we are unable to quantify.

It’s best if the collective citizenry of the US keeps a vigilant eye on the government and its privacy invading laws.

Following the adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” leads to the conclusion that it’s easier to stop laws from being passed than to repeal bad laws.

If we all work together, maybe we’ll never have to hear our children say, “When you were young, were we at war with Oceania?”

Crockett Cobb is a contributing columnist at The Daily O’Collegian. He can be reached via e-mail at cwcobb@gmail.com