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Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay are writing columns on important issues for today.

Americans Must Never Surrender Freedom!

April 14, 2014

The President takes an oath to defend this County before assuming the duties of office.  Our military takes the same oath which begins, "I, (your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; . . . So help me God."  This sacred responsibility of protecting citizens is not without bounds -- namely the bounds of the U.S. Constitution.  Washington wrote to the Provisional Congress, “When we assumed the [role of] soldier we did not lay aside the [role of] citizen,” During his command, even though the British imprisoned their captives often in death-riddled prison ships off of Manhattan Island, Washington followed a higher road, caring for the enemy. 

On September 11, 2001, an emboldened enemy cowardly killed thousands of innocent citizens at the World Trade Center. This was an active of terrorism, not an act of War.  Congress reacted by passing the Patriot Act.  In 2011 President Obama extended several major provisions of the act for four years including allowing: 

  • “Roving” wiretaps which authorize listening in on conversations based upon the person and not just a single phone number; 

  • The FBI to apply for a court order forcing businesses to produce materials that assist in investigations involving terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities; and

  • Surveillance/searches of “Lone Wolfs” where the person is suspected of terrorism activities but no connection has yet been made to a foreign government.

There is always a delicate balance between being protected from terrorism and intrusive prying into our private lives.  If being protected means we will lose our freedoms then we would err on the side of freedom. 

It is appropriate to give authority for surveillance where a reasonable person can draw the conclusion that terrorist activity is being supported by the surveillance target.  But general “fishing expeditions,” searches and tracking of data upon regular U.S. citizens going about their daily lives is not appropriate. Any permission to conduct such searches needs to be done with a warrant and with oversight of an appropriate Court that is looking out for our rights -- specifically our 4th amendment rights. 

 There has been much talk in the news of late about the NSA collection of telephone metadata.  One such report said this is not the same as listening to a person’s phone calls or reading text messages/email but instead it allows the intelligence community to see what numbers are being called by specifically identified numbers, doing so under a court-ordered warrant.  If this is the case we do not object to such activities.

We believe terrorist should be treated as enemy combatants and not as common criminals.  Some say, "don't terrorists have the same rights we have?"  NO! This is an important point; citizens have rights, but foreign terrorist don’t under our Constitution and they are governed under military jurisdiction.  President Truman used nuclear weapons on Japan to save American lives, also saving Japanese lives. The much debated enhanced interrogation techniques like water-boarding that does not cause death or irreparable harm should also be considered -- in limited circumstances -- on foreign terrorist to save lives, theirs and ours. 

There are no easy choices.  As Americans we must never surrender our freedoms that have been paid for with the blood of our patriots; while we seek protection against terrorism.  When freedom is lost it is lost forever.  We will fight to free others and we will fight to protect our American sovereignty and freedoms.  

Mark, John and Bill