ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a nice summer evening. You have just finished supper
and are relaxing with your family after your hard day at the office. Your
favorite reality show is on television, and you along with your wife and kids
are heavily engrossed in it.
Suddenly your door gets pounded down and men with guns and
helmets come rushing in and tackle you to the ground so they can cuff you. Your
family is in terror, but also they are in shocked because they notice the
lettering on the uniforms of these men ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ FBI.
Your drug off and thrown into a jail cell where you wait to
hear what crime you have committed. You sit there saddened with great concern of
your family. Your wife is in a frantic because she does not know where you are
or what crime you have committed. She thinks of calling an attorney, but what
good can it do when she donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t know your crime. Also she has your children to
worry about and wonder how she will survive.
The next morning comes and you hope to hear why you have
been taken, but as they day dwindles so does your ambitions of hearing any news.
Sad part is this continues for another week.
A greater feeling of discouragement rises in you as you
realize you have been jailed now for over a month, charged with no crimes and
you nor your family know what happened. In fact you begin to wonder if life is
even worth continuing.
This is a horrible story that I pray none of you ever have
to live. The truth is though, it is a story that could come to being under the
USA Patriot Act.
This act was rushed through Congress as a means to fight
terrorism in the home front, but in fact it has given an abusive amount of power
to law enforcement and essentially voided the fourth amendment.
Friday, the House Judiciary Committee, held a hearing to
listen to testimony of witnesses against the Patriot Act. These are all very
well educated and well informed individuals in their field. The hearing only
came after Democrats demanded the hearing. Why did they demand it? Because the
Democratic members had already been subjected to hours of testimony, given by
proponents of the Patriot Act.
So in order to bring fair and balanced government into
play, the Democrats quickly arranged for four witnesses to come to capital hill
and give their views on the Patriot Act. The views they shared were frightening
to say the least, but not as frightening as the outcome.
One view given by James Zogby, president of the Arab
American Institute, told the people how other repressive countries are citing
the Patriot Act as support for their practices of unjust imprisonment and
torture. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œDemocratic reformers and human rights activists use to look at America
as the city on the hillÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Mr. Zogby, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œnow we have lowered that barÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
If you have not watched this hearing, I encourage you to do
so. I have seen it three times now and it amazes me more every time. It can be
viewed over the internet on CspanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s site.
The biggest crime I find in this is that they are not
listening to Mr. Zogby, who knows better than anyone there the way of the Arab
world. Instead they listen to President Bush, who in January of 2002 did not
know the difference between Arab ShiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢a, Arab Sunnis, and Kurds, yet he knew he
could be their hero in giving them democracy.
The most frightening part was how this meeting ended. Rep.
Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the committee closed the meeting after he gave
his remarks scolding the witnesses. He yelled at them for bringing up points of
GITMO and other prison abuse scandals and said that the Patriot Act had nothing
to do with it. In fact it was Rep. Mike Pence who introduced the problems of the
abuse when he accused Amnesty International of endangering the lives of
Americans in uniform by referring to the prison at Guantanamo Bay as a “gulagÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
He also called for Mr. Pitts, chairmen of Amnesty International USA to retract
the statement from the report and issue an apology. Truth is Mr. Pence saw this
as an opportunity to grand stand and draw attention from the matter at hand, not
the panel. Sensenbrenner didn’t allow the Amnesty representative, Chip Pitts, to
respond until Nadler raised a “point of decency.”
Sensenbrenner gaveled the meeting adjourned and he and his
republican partners made haste to exit the room as points of order were being
raised by other members. Thanks to CSPAN for keeping the cameras going and
allowing us to see what was on the mind of our elected officials, even though
someone turned the microphones off in the room. It lead to some very heated
discussion and makes one wonder how we can even call ourselves a democracy when
this type of one-sided discussion is allowed to exist.
Mr. Sensenbrenner is hurt by the Patriot Act coming under
fire, considering he was one of the original authors of it. In a democracy when
we realize that our laws may have flaws, it is the duty of our elected
representatives to correct them. Mr. SensenbrennerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s actions showed that he
truly does not support democracy, and acted in a way that Hitler or Stalin would
of. He needs to be made to apologize not only to the witnesses, but also the
members of the committee and the American people for exemplifying a dictatorship
in the way he runs his meetings. His actions were not only uncalled for but also
unethical. With the decreasing approval of Congress, and especially Republican
members, I hope that they will stand up to Mr. Sensenbrenner and educate him on
what it means to be an American.