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A Disaster for Individual Freedom

The argument has been made that for nearly 150 years, civil liberties in this country have been on the upswing. The fact is that nothing could be further from the truth. Jeff Jacoby, in an article for the Boston Globe, asks the question, was the 9/11 decade a disaster for individual freedom? Jacobys opinion is Congress and the president may restrict political liberties during wartime or a crisis, but when the crisis eases liberty rebounds and then some. The balance between security and freedom shifts back not to where it was, but to even greater liberty and expanded individual rights. Thus, after the Civil War ended, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments made the United States an even freer country than it had been before. Following World War II, FDR's internment of the Japanese was rescinded and is now so reviled that no mainstream political figure would dream of defending or emulating it. For nearly 150 years, civil liberties in this country have been on the upswing. Ten years after 9/11, they still are. There is one big problem with Jacobys assessment: he is wrong! First, the Global War on Terror is by US government prophecy a perpetual war with no end in sight. It is a war that will not end by surrender on board a battleship like the USS Missouri, as with the Japanese in World War II. So, there is no comparison between the war on terror and any previous war. Second, following our wars, security and freedom have not shifted back to greater liberty and expanded individual rights -- particularly since 9/11. Mr. Jacoby is a bit out of touch with reality. Perhaps he has been out-of-town and has not heard of the USA Patriot Act, which has seriously diminished liberty in America. The act has substantially expanded government powers. The 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th Amendments have been eroded, allowing law enforcement greater latitude in searching telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records. Nurtured by government and the private sector, Americans are obsessed with a fear of terrorism, giving way to A shadowy national security state [that] has access to our emails, phone calls and web-surfing habits; government agents monitor our political activities and collect reports about

our suspicious activities photographing bridges for scrapbooks or art projects or attending political protests. Corporate and government security cameras record our movements in city streets, offices, airports (of course) and malls. Security guards are everywhere on patrol; they take our pictures and copy our licences [sic] before admitting us to office buildings. Federal agencies compile extensive, notoriously inaccurate blacklists that have denied innocent, unsuspecting Americans access to credit, jobs and housing, as well as the right to fly. Federal prosecutors employ an expansive, elastic federal penal code against people targeted for bad reasons instead of bad behaviour [sic]; and like other law enforcement and national security agents, they are rarely held accountable for abusing their power or the laws they swore to uphold. So Mr. Jacoby, we have lost liberty. 9/11 was The Day That Changed America.