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Re: [BKARTS] Patriot act follow-up

The FBI's continued persecution of Steven Kurtz is a product of that agency's
false pride - not a question of politics.  (Have we Americans become so polarized
in our political views that we can't tell right from wrong?)

We are right to oppose the maltreatment of Steven Kurtz.

We are wrong to prostitute that cause for ideological gain.

I live in Buffalo.
I happen to be a Republican.
I believe that Steven Kurtz is innocent.
I deplore the stubborn behavior (both by the prosecution and by the FBI)
which has replaced common sense in this case.  Such abuse of power -
especially newly granted power - transcends party lines with astonishing
ease.  This situatation (or one very much like it) would be happening right
now, no matter who the nation had elected to the Presidency in Y2K.

The citizens of the United States of America were deeply frightened by
the events of Sept. 11, 2001.  (As well we should have been!)
We are now learning to cope with that fear - and to reject unnecessary
curbs to our personal liberty.  Nobody believed it would be easy to find
a reasonable balance.

I cannot blame President Bush or John Ashcroft for the mistakes being
made by their remote subordinates.  The blame belongs to those who have
chosen to twist the Patriot Act into a tool for criminal law enforcement.
It was never intended to be used in that manner.  (Yet we all knew that
this would happen.  Any time a bureaucrat is handed undue power,
he or she will quickly put it to use for a convenient and unintended purpose.)
The most vicious ills in our Nation's history have grown from a sincere desire
to do good.

The Patriot Act was voted into law by a bipartisan majority of both
houses of Congress.  We were -all- frightened by the events of September 11,
2001.  Most of us over-reacted.  Most of our elected officials over-reacted.
They hired an army of poorly trained airport screeners; they made a number of
end-runs around the Bill of Rights; and they were afraid to entrust the public
safety to average Citizens.  These were all mistakes.  The last was perhaps the
greatest error.  Average citizens, exercising due vigilance, have always been the
strongest weapon for good in a free society.

Does anyone recall the behavior of the previous Attorney General during
the disaster at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas?  Were you
horrified by her decision to place Agency pride above the lives of the children?
(I was!)  No political party can -ever- be trusted with overwhelming power.
Those who built our Nation were painfully aware of this danger.  They went
to great effort to forestall it.  Their experiences were recorded and preserved
(through the Book Arts) so that their descendants would never be forced
to relearn those dangers through personal experience.

Perhaps we'd all better take the time to do a bit of reading, a bit of printing,
and a bit of pamphleteering.  :-)

I'll leave you with these few words - far more eloquent than my own:

"Free government is founded in jealousy, not confidence.
It is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited
constitutions, to bind those we are obliged to trust with power...
In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence
in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1799 --

"But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people
is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the
blessing.  It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the
Federal Government."
-- Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address, March 4, 1837 --

"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I
suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an
up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of
individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant
heap of totalitarianism.  Regardless of their sincerity, their
humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for
security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned,
'The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads
among them bounties, donations and benefits.' "
-- Ronald Wilson Reagan, October 27, 1964 --



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