Republican difficulties with the Patriot Act are, ultimately, the result of past efforts by Republicans to "end the rancor" and get along with Democrats who have consistently proven themselves not to be trustworthy.
A mindset of “acceptable risk” is spreading throughout the federal government with regards to the War on Terror. The most recent example of this dangerous behavior involves the Patriot Act, which appears to be in its death throes, if not already defunct.
Granted, the Patriot Act has its flaws, and could stand some revision. But could the Congress and Senate actually contemplate a resurrection of the abominable security roadblocks that left the country vulnerable to 9-11? At this point, it seems this possibility is something that our heroic “leaders” in Washington are at least willing to ponder.
Unfortunately, the Patriot Act suffers from a widespread and undeserved reputation as a dire threat to the civil liberties of law-abiding Americans. Yet the worst aspect of the present quandary is that, once again, the ability to implement and uphold such a statute rests solely in the hands of the White House and Congressional Republicans. And once again, their past compromises and capitulation are coming back to haunt them.
The public harbors a justifiable distrust for the federal government, and in particular its reluctance to abide by constitutional limits to its scope and authority. It is altogether undeniable that it has exceeded its bounds many times with impunity, particularly during the Clinton years. Much could have been done to rectify past wrongs and rein it in during the early days of the Bush Administration. But sadly, this did not happen.
Were any average American touring the White House, to scratch his or her name onto the walls or furniture, a quick arrest and prosecution would quickly and properly ensue. Yet when Clinton staffers extensively vandalized White House office assets while vacating the premises in the final days before President Bush’s inauguration, absolutely no attempt was made to hold them accountable. And things only got worse from there.
From “Pardon Gate” to the Jamie Gorelick scandal to the gross abuses of government power exerted by Attorney General Janet Reno, a host of criminal activities were committed during the Clinton years for which no retribution was ever dispensed. These were not merely political rivalries, but crimes against America.
President Bush apparently sought to heal wounds and mend fences, but in his misbegotten effort to institute a “new tone” in Washington, he ultimately allowed such criminal activity, which adversely affected the entire country, to set a precedent for future Democrat administrations.
So, if he is sufficiently comfortable with such actions to overlook them, should anyone believe that he could be entrusted with the fearsome power of the Patriot Act without posing a risk to the liberties and rights of the American people?
In truth, few if any Americans seriously believe that President Bush sought to continue in the footsteps of his predecessor. Yet neither did he appear intent on holding anyone accountable for the vast malfeasance inflicted upon America during the Clinton years.
Worse yet, having never been made to face the consequences for their collaboration with rampant corruption of the Clinton White House, Congressional Democrats are, not surprisingly, shameless enough to presume the “moral high ground” and condemn Republicans as hopelessly corrupt. In a sense, those partisan Democrats have a point.
Consider the inexcusable suppression of a volatile piece of information known as the “Barrett Report.” Independent Counsel David Barrett has been investigating major malfeasance within the Clinton Administration since the late 1990s. But now that Barrett’s investigation is essentially complete, prominent Senate Democrats are diligently working to prohibit its publication.
This suppression of information is itself a crime in the worst traditions of the Clinton Presidency. Unfortunately, those Democrats seeking to censor it are once again abetted by morally bankrupt Republicans, in particular, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri and Michigan Congressman Joe Knollenberg.
Thus is the public confronted with the disturbing reality that the enemy of liberty and freedom does not reside in one political party or another, but in a Washington establishment that places itself above the law.
Soft peddling or ignoring past violations does not elevate the GOP above those who committed such criminal acts. Instead, it makes the present administration and the Congress into passive collaborators in their crimes.
In the end, President Bush’s ability to exercise legitimate Executive power would be greatly enhanced if Americans were treated to the spectacle of a significant percentage of the previous administration being marched off to Leavenworth for having so flagrantly abused that power.
America deserves access to the Barrett Report. True Justice demands it.
Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming and has been involved in state and local politics for many years. He writes for several prominent conservative websites, as has written for regional and national magazines. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @CGAdamo.