Monday, May 15, 2006

Students Ask Candidates About Patriot Act

The kids in the local schools know something about our nation and it's Constitution, and they have other smarts too, of course. But I was most happy the first question they brought before GOP candidates running for congress was about the Bill of Rights and concerns that the Patriot Act violates those standards.

We studied the Bill of Rights, and it says we have the right of protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Do you think that parts of the Patriot Act violate that right? Why or why not, and what do you think should be done differently?

The 4th Ammendment also says such searches require a court-issed warrant, too. According to the report in the Greeneville Sun, here's how the candidates asked that question responded and I'm not very surprised by their answers:

Richard Roberts, a Greeneville attorney and businessman, said he does not think this right is violated by the Patriot Act, and noted that the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to ensure its passage, and its protections are very important.

The Patriot Act was a response to an attack,” Roberts said, mentioning the attacks on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001, “and was a logical response to that threat.”

Of national concern today, Roberts said, is Americans’ disclosing information about the secrecy of telecommunications and wire fund transfers. “If we have questions about the appropriateness of a wiretap,” the law calls for having a judge look into the matter, he said.

Dr. Phil Roe, vice mayor of Johnson City and an obstetrician/gynecologist, said privacy is “a huge issue” in medicine, but the Constitution asks the president to see to the country’s security.

Roe said bioterrorism threats from “scary viruses” are something the Patriot Act can and should address, and he said he agreed with Roberts “completely. When people break the law, they should be punished.”

Retired federal prosecutor Dan Smith, of Johnson City, noted that the 4th Amendment does give the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, “but the emphasis is on ‘unreasonable,’” Smith said.

He said talk of “illegal wiretaps — that’s the liberal media saying it’s illegal.” Smith said he sees nothing improper about listening in to telephone calls from other countries to known or suspected terrorists."

No surprise to me the GOP sees Fear as motivation and reason enough to violate the Amendmment, and that the President's power to override courts and be the ultimate "decider".

It's a key element to the Bush presidency - he (and many of his supporters) - simply prefer a single "decider" to determine which laws are viable and which need only Presidential interpretation. Oh, and it's all the "liberal media's" fault that anyone has doubts about the need to create and store a massive databse of phone conversations.

Some argue that Congress gave him that authority after 9-11 and I'm happy the kids at least know to raise the question.

The entire article shows how much the candidates are following the president's key talking points on Iraq and the loss of jobs to overseas development and other issues.


  1. Anonymous12:21 PM

    Good grief, that's a horrible article. Does a Democrat stand a chance in that district?

  2. Not unless some truly dynamic personality comes along and even then, history says it is a long uphill struggle.

    Republicans have held the district continuously since 1881 and for all but four years since 1859. It was one of only two districts in Tennessee (the other being the neighboring 2nd) whose congressmen did not resign when Tennessee seceded from the Union prior to the Civil War.

    I kinda think it says more about a highly organized GOP rather than reflective of citizens who feel well represented. Most I know in the area are the first to complain about Congress. But history speaks VERY loud about the voting records here.