Delicate balance between civil liberties and security
Regarding Paul Rosenzweig's July 29 Opinion "Face facts: Patriot Act aids security, not abuse": The reality is that the Patriot Act is not monolithic in nature. It is not all good, nor all bad. Realistic opponents of the act, such as myself, recognize vital antiterrorism tools - such as breaking down the wall between intelligence and enforcement agencies - and want them retained. We do not want the wholesale repeal of the act.
Neither, however, do we want hastily and poorly conceived criminal statutes arbitrarily applied to citizens. To assert that "there has been no abuse" is amusing, considering that the act allows invasions people aren't supposed to know about. "Sneak and peek" warrants wouldn't be very sneaky if the government told people they were being searched.
The idea of the police policing themselves is one that many people have issues with, and justifiably so.
If the Patriot Act is intended to shield us from terrorism, and that is the only purpose for which it has been enacted, then the answer to critics that say it infringes on civil rights and liberties is simple and obvious: Include a provision that excludes evidence gathered under a Patriot Act investigation from being admissible in court for any other type of criminal or civil prosecution.
Terrorist organizations flourish in the environment of a police state. Terrorists have had a great deal of experience running police states, and have had time to develop successful models of that form of government. If we allow fear to compromise the freedoms upon which this country was founded, we become the enemy ourselves, and the terrorists win.
Somers Point, N.J.
Regarding your July 29 article "Why the US granted 'protected' status to Iranian terrorists": The Mujahideen-e Khalq organization (MEK) is a legitimate opposition group in Iran and many Iranians respect its members for standing firm in front of terrorist mullahs.
When the MEK first revealed Tehran's secret nuclear program in August of 2002, the White House said that if it weren't for the Iranian opposition groups, the facility could have gone unnoticed for many years.
The MEK represents demands of the majority of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy and is committed to the establishment of a secular, representative government.
The time has come for regime change in Iran. No government should deal with the most dangerous terrorist state, which has committed so many atrocities, including the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners 16 years ago this month.
Your July 21 article "Is it fair and legal for inmates to foot their room and board?" posed conflicting ideas for me.
Convicts chose their own behavior, so why should we pay taxes to support them while they are incarcerated. But their families are innocent, and may suffer if they are forced to send upkeep payments to prison.
There have been efforts made to teach prisoners a trade to help them find employment after their release. Starting commercial businesses inside jails would allow inmates to be trained and then hired at normal beginning salaries that would pay for their upkeep? Profits and salary increases could be deposited until the prisoners' release or sent to their families.
This would help turn the convict into a successful person in the everyday world.
Wilma B. Howard
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