Homeland Security and Anthrax
Walt and Mary are old friends. My wife and I have known them for well over 30 years and we consider them family. Walt and Mary are individuals and their view of the world is much different than ours, yet we sill remain friends. Both are a few years older than we are, and retired. They watch lots of TV, listen to nighttime talk radio, and subscribe to a number of different conspiracy theories.
I leaned over the table, looked at Walt and asked, "What do you think about the new Anti-Terrorism Bill?"
Walt takes a deep drag from his cigarette. "We have to do something if we want to be safe."
"Yeh, but at what cost?" I reply.
Walt puts a serious expression on his face and says, "I guess things will never be the same, we'll all have to make some sacrifices if we want to be safe."
"You willing to give up your civil rights and your freedoms?" ask I?
Walt sets down his cigarette and leans toward me. "Come on, we're not giving up anything. We may be a bit inconvenienced, but I am sure not having to give up my guns, and we are certainly not surrendering our birth rights."
I take a sip of my coffee. "Is that so? Have you read the bill."
"I read what the newspapers said about it," replies Walt.
I look very intently at Walt. "Yeh, but did you read the Bill? It allows for the government to tap your telephones, your email. They can follow you wherever you go."
"Not exactly," says he. "Only if you are an alien and they suspect you of being a terrorist. If you are a citizen, you are still protected by our usual laws."
"I think that we will be having a lot more government spying," says I. "And it won't matter if you are a citizen or not. They won't need a court order. All the government will need is someone to accuse you. They have been given the authority to have military tribunals. Military tribunals don't have to follow our normal rules of evidence. They can accept hearsay evidence, and they don't even have to tell a person why they are being held. This is the U.S. not Russia, and what I am reading just doesn't seem right."
"It's not right," replies Walt, "But, what you are sayin' isn't right either. As a citizen, you do have your rights, and we live in the U.S of A. not Russia. In our country we still have rules and laws to protect us. Besides, if you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn't be afraid of the government."
I respond, "The founders of our country were afraid of Government. They felt that all governments, if given the opportunity, will abuse freedoms. They established checks and balances. They also wrote protections for all of us into the Constitution. I see no reason why portions of the Constitution should be suspended. Do you want the government reading your mail? Do you want them looking into all your personal records? Do you want them questioning your neighbors about you, or seeing what you have on the hard drive of your computer? Who knows what a person has to hide, and what a person would like to keep private? Be it from the government, your friends, or even your wife. Some things are no one's business but your own."
"We're at war," Replies Walt
I respond, "I don't see Congress issuing any declaration of war."
Walt's kitchen door crashes open, and Mary and my wife walk in with their arms filled with groceries.
"We got some chips and dip," bellows Mary. "I also got some of those little sausages that Walt likes."
"Did you get us some more smokes?" asks Walt.
"Yep, and some more of your generic beer too. None of that yuppie Hefelweisen