Saturday, December 17, 2005


Giuliani on the Patriot Act

Taking Liberties With the Nation's Security - New York Times: "The central provisions of the Patriot Act allow law enforcement and the intelligence community to share information. This might seem elementary, but for years law enforcement had been stymied by a legal wall that prevented agencies from sharing information. For four years now, inter-agency collaboration, made possible by the Patriot Act, has played an important role in preventing another day like Sept. 11. The act's provisions helped make possible the investigations in Lackawanna, N.Y., and Portland, Ore., in which 12 people were ultimately convicted for attempts to aid Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
So what happened in Washington? The House voted on Wednesday to renew the act; it stalled in the Senate. If the Senate fails to approve the extension, the government will be forced to revert in many ways to our pre-Sept. 11 methods. Sixteen provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire on Dec. 31, including the key information-sharing ones.
It is simply false to claim, as some of its critics do, that this bill does not respond to concerns about civil liberties. The four-year extension of the Patriot Act, as passed by the House, would not only reauthorize the expiring provisions - allowing our Joint Terrorism Task Force, National Counterterrorism Center and Terrorist Screening Center to continue their work uninterrupted - it would also make a number of common-sense clarifications and add dozens of additional civil liberties safeguards."

I think when most of us think of Rudy, we think of a man that was able to get elected in New York with an [R] next to his name. I was told he was able to do this by making unions and other liberal groups in that city understand that he would be their Mayor too. That got him elected. Granted, for the better part of his tenure, he was courting controversy either personally or professionally, but he went on to become the Nation's Mayor, a hero. What we seemed to grown to love about him is that while he has been loyal to his party, he has not been a party line lemming. When Rudy feels strongly about something, he does not seem to feel the need to check that belief with the party platform or pollsters.
While there is no doubt that Giuliani is a politician, there is a strong sense that he is a man of conviction and strength. I read this and kept thinking...would he write this if he didn't really feel it in his gut? The answer is no. Then the next question might be whether he is an expert on the topic. While there are others, I would say most of the country would probably agree that he has had to become one, if even reluctantly. Do those two answers mean that his stance on the Patriot Act is right? Not necessarily, but it lends a responsible voice to a topic that has irresponsible voices both for and against it.
I also have to ask myself whether I would be passionately praising the Patriot Act if we had been hit by terrorists recently. I also have to weigh that against what I would have felt about the Patriot Act prior to 9/11. The basis for our civil liberties has not changed because of 9/11. My stance will need to fall somewhere between these two extremes in order to have any credibility. Rudy's stance seems to recognize and fall between these two extremes.

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