Friday, March 24, 2006

Common Cause Flap

I applaud Chellie Pingree for publicly criticizing the so-called "Patriot Act" and also for standing up to the FBI.

Thirty-five years ago this month, a group calling itself the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into the agency's office in Media, Pa., and removed hundreds of files documenting its policy of surveillance, infiltration and harassment of civil rights and anti-war activists.

Thanks to the efforts of those patriotic Americans, newspaper articles based on the documents prompted Congress to hold hearings on some of the illegal activities engaged in by the FBI and CIA. Unfortunately, recent revelations have shown that the reforms subsequently adopted by Congress to prevent such abuses by the FBI were not successful.

The FBI is still spying on whistle-blowers, peace activists and other patriotic Americans, not because they pose a threat to national security, but because they oppose U.S. government policies. The truth is, there never would have been a need for the "Patriot Act" if the FBI had done its job in the months leading up to 9-11.

If the FBI would spend more time preventing crime and less time covering up its illegal activities, patriotic Americans would feel free to exercise their First Amendment rights to freedom of expression without having to worry about being placed under the type of surveillance authorized by the "Patriot Act."