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BEN FRANKLIN WAS RIGHT

U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher

May 31, 2011

[Publisher's Note:  As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who represents coastal Orange and Los Angeles Counties.]

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Memorial Day is the time that we set aside to remember with gratitude those heroes who gave their lives to protect our freedom.  But no one should ever forget that it was our freedom they were protecting . . . and we can lose that precious gift to enemies of freedom, whether they be foreign or domestic. 

As a patriot I voted against the “Patriot Act” and my fellow patriots deserve to know why.  In the aftermath of 9-11 I voted for the original Patriot Act, recognizing the crisis that comes with 3,000 of our fellow citizens being slaughtered.

Yet even then, “permanently” expanding government power to counter this global Islamic terrorist threat was not part of the solution.   Thanks to the diligence and leadership of Dick Armey and a few others, sunset provisions were put in place to see to it that the power unleashed to defeat Islamic terrorists would have to be reaffirmed by a vote of Congress, or those “emergency” powers would disappear.

President George W. Bush, however, had a different agenda.  When reathorization came around five years ago, we were basically asked to reauthorize the original legislation, except this time all the sunsets were to be left out.  That’s the kind of freedom lover GW was and is.
We are in the middle of a war and he uses the opportunity to permanently expand federal law enforcement’s power over the population as a whole. WelI, I opposed that power grab and to this day can’t understand how so many of my conservative friends, who really are freedom lovers, went along with it. 

As everything turned out, several sunset provisions stayed in the bill, others turned into a permanent expansion of federal power.

I was hoping all this would be corrected when we again reauthorized the Patriot Act.  It wasn’t.  Even worse, after promising in the last election open rules for amendments to be offered, total transparency and the right to a full and open debate on all significant issues, the Patriot Act - which is significant -- was being shoved through with no hearings, no amendments allowed, and little debate.  For those reasons alone it should have been voted down. Instead it was given a brief extension based on a commitment that when it came up again amendments would be permitted and the process would be much more open. Well, It came up again, and again no amendments, no open discussion and the minimum of debate time. Substance wise, there was still at least one provision in the bill allowing federal agents total access to a targeted American citizen’s records and accounts, without so much as a judicial search warrant. Hey, even if there is a miniscule amount of “probable cause,” search warrants can be easily arranged. Obviously, somebody wants unbridled power and that is not in keeping with America’s traditions. I voted NO again.

Make no mistake we are at war with Radical Islam. It is a security crisis of sort, thus this is exactly NOT the time to be permanently altering the power of government over our lives.  Unfortunately, those pushing the Patriot Act cannot get this simple truth into their mind. In the meantime, freshman Patriots like Lt. Col. Allen West and a few of us old timers, like Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn) are holding the line against those, foreign and domestic, who would destroy our freedom. 

Too many Americans have died protecting our freedom for us to give it away to our own law enforcement bureaucracy.  No matter how well motivated, sooner or later such an expansion of government power will come back to haunt us.  As Ben Franklin warned: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

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You can read more about Congressman Rohrabacher, or reach him via his official website here.

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