Deadline nears for dubious act

After the attacks of Sept. 11, increased vigilance is more than expected. It is the right to peace of mind. It is the right to live free of fear.

But what happens when citizens feel more threatened by the government that has vowed to protect them, than by the terrorists from whom they are being protected?

More than 200 years ago, a bunch of old guys we now refer to as patriots got together to write the document we now recognize as the Bill of Rights.

Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, congress passed the PATRIOT Act, an extension of power for law enforcement agencies. A new power that critics say demeans the Fourth Amendment (where the old guys declared illegal search and seizures to be unconstitutional).

Opponents of the PATRIOT Act say it gives too much power to agencies like the FBI and the CIA. Some fear it will weaken the courts and the application of checks and balances.

Secret searches and wiretapping may be reason enough for congress to strike down the act’s renewal.

Still, congress voted Wednesday to temporarily extend the PATRIOT Act. The extension is for five weeks, but sooner or later, a decision will be made.

To congress: When protection takes a sharp turn into overreaction, abuse is just around the corner.

-Bryan Falla for the editorial board