the proposed 2004 Anti-Patriot Act Ballot Question
lead by Councilor Susan Falkoff, have lead an effort to place an anti-Patriot
Act ballot question on the 2004 ballot here in our town.
Citizens for Common Sense Government are in favor of letting the people
vote on this issue. However we would prefer that the question be placed
on the 2005 municipal ballot. As a truly local issue it should be on
a ballot reflective of local sentiment as it pertains to our town and
our cooperation or non-cooperation with federal and state authorities.
The enemies of the USA Patriot Act would rather hide this and neatly
fold it into a presidential election. Thereby shielding some from the
political fallout that would certainly ensue if Watertown were looking
at this through a truly municipal ‘lens’. Also, having
the question before voters in 2005 would have the side benefit of increasing
voter turn out for the council and school committee races. Nonetheless
we do not oppose the question being on the 2004 ballot in principle.
the proposed resolution is problematic and could well be defective
on points of law. The second article calls for
barring the use of state resources or institutions to carry out
actions that violate constitutional rights, such as racial and
religious profiling, conducting secret investigations without reasonable
grounds, and maintaining files on individuals and organizations
without reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct”.
surface, this sounds great. It’s something we would support as
well. No one wants constitutional liberties eroded. But, the resolution
is based on the supposition that the USA Patriot Act does in fact do
these things. Does anyone have an idea of how many cases have been
brought before the courts in 200 years of American history that were
problems of constitutionality and the interpretation thereof? I didn't
notice anyone at W.C.E.S. wearing black robes. The second article asks
our legislature to bar state resources and institutions (which are
there to keep us safe) based on our own individual assessment of the
constitution. Why do we pay judges if all we need is the W.C.E.S.?
us back to the issue proper forum. This resolution instructs our state
representative to do two things, neither of which is within their purview.
are expected to don judicial robes and render a constitutional opinion
(on a federal matter no less).
having done that, they should then pass legislation which conflicts
with federal law.
all kinds of jurisdictional and constitutional problems. Such legislation
would be no less egregious than southern states refusing to comply
with the Civil Rights Act. Even the most liberal interpretation of
the 10 th Amendment would have to
strike down any such legislation passed in Massachusetts.
we have received several complaints about the manner in which the signatures
were gathered. Specifically, proponents were soliciting signatures
in municipal buildings, like the Town Hall and the Middle School. THIS
IS AGAINST THE LAW!
a couple of suggestions for Councilor Falkoff and our friends at the
W.C.E.S. First you can’t defend the Constitution while at the
same time violating the law. Teach your volunteers to obey the election
laws! Secondly; learn how to write a resolution that is not defective
on matters of jurisdiction and points of law. You’re asking Watertown
voters to trust your constitutional assessment of the Patriot Act,
when you can’t write a resolution that will stand up to the scrutiny
of an informed layman.
Watertown Citizens for Common Sense Government
Bill of Rights is not a Suicide Pact
Franklin warned our young nation not to "…give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary safety…”
however, organizations have emerged that would compromise essential
safety to maintain a little temporary liberty. Ironically, their position
could lead to the loss of all freedom. In that regard, we would all
be well served to heed former Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson's
caution: the “Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact”.
Constitution that recognizes our civil liberties charges the Federal
Government to provide for the common defense. It was ordained to SECURE
the blessings of liberty, not just for ourselves, but also for our
there exists an inherent tension between individual rights and public
interest. Today, that tension manifests itself in a real paradox. On
the one hand, “We the People” empower the Government to
defend the nation. Ultimately, we do so to guarantee our precious freedoms
endure. On the other hand, the current crisis demands we tolerate possible
encroachments on the very liberties we seek to defend.
of us that watched the Twin Towers fall, my mind was flooded with emotions.
After the horror and rage subsided, I pondered how this infamous day
would change our way of life. I remember thinking; they took advantage
of the very freedoms which make us strong. I also feared compromising
our open society, would give those savages a victory.
Anti-Patriot Act resolution was introduced before the council sub-committee,
I was ambivalent. I opposed the measure simply because this issue was
above municipal pay grade. Nevertheless, my attitude towards this new
law was healthy suspicion, not wholehearted support.
funny thing happened once I decided to research the rhetoric.
Mark Twains declared, “gets halfway around the world before the
truth even gets its shoes on”.
my consternation, falsehood is exactly what I discovered when I investigated
the claims being made. The opponents of the Patriot Act had been waging
a campaign of myths, distortions and half-truths.
goes on today aided by slick T. V. Ads. These ads claim the Patriot
Act now allows law enforcement to search your home without your knowledge.
ads don’t tell you is that this is nothing new.
have upheld “sneak and peek warrants” since the 1970’s.
The Patriot Act simply allows authorities to apply the identical standards
to terror suspects that apply to drug dealers and the mob. These standards
require cause be shown to obtain such a warrant. Further, authorities
must eventually inform the suspect of the search. A judge monitors
this entire process to ensure there is no abuse.
Joseph Biden put it this way: “… What’s good
for the mob should be good for terrorists.”
widely promulgated myth is that the Patriot Act gives the Government “new” powers
to monitor library records. The truth is; this provision deals with
business transactions that “could” include libraries records.
Further, the power is not new. Prior to the Patriot Act, law enforcement
could obtain the very same records through a cumbersome Grand Jury
procedure. The only thing that is “new” is that now a Federal
judge can issue the subpoena. Faced with a time sensitive threat, this
only makes sense. Once again, the whole process is subject to judicial
distortions are just the icing on a poison cake. Virtually all their
claims are based on half-truths. They never mention the built in safeguards
such as Congressional and Judicial oversight.
Reno told the 9/11 Commission, “Generally, everything that's
been done in the Patriot Act has been helpful … while
at the same time maintaining the balance with respect to civil liberties." But
they ignore this reasoned conclusion.
astonishment, even their supporters in the Senate condemn their tactics.
I recently watched C-SPAN's coverage of the Judiciary Committee hearings.
I heard Senators who agree with them in principal; use terms like hysteria
to describe the Anti-Patriot Act crusade. Senator Russ Feingold, the
one Senator who voted against the Patriot Act, agreed that this campaign
is ‘over the top’.
Feingold is correct. It is so ‘over the top’ that it takes
30 pages, 10,224 words and 295 paragraphs to describe.
these organizations being so disingenuous?
local lobbies EXCLUDE parts of Watertown from this vote?
are legitimate questions we should all be asking as we continue to
evaluate the veracity of these groups.
now, we have a more important question to tackle.
time to look beyond the slick and contrived images birthed in Madison
Avenue suites. This issue can’t be reduced to deceptive slogans
or restricted to “cherry picked” precincts. Those of you,
who can vote should investigate the facts. Visit www.lifeandliberty.gov. Read the 30 pages that expose the baseless fear-mongering. Then decide
if Question 1 will keep us “Safe and Free”.
rights are sacred; we compromise them with fear and trepidation. But
let us not enter into a “suicide pact” with those who have
distorted the truth.
Watertown Citizens for Common Sense Government