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Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
National Security

Can't erode rights to protect them

Recent opinion in this paper concerns loss of laws providing civil liberties for a perceived need of national security following 9/11. (Jan. 13 Viewpoints commentary, "Rights are forgotten in the 'war on terror'').
I think this fear is real but that our methods to combat it are not only illegal and immoral but lead to divisiveness and further peril.
Much too often lately, we read or learn about mass shootings in malls, schools, theaters, coffee shops without even the rationale of gang violence. This random, senseless killing produces terror as surely as any foreign terrorist could. It is natural and reasonable to take measures to prevent it in all ways possible. And most certainly this does lead to measures taken against our own citizens. Although not known as motivated by political aims, and confused with insanity because it is incomprehensible -- the same rationale is used to suspend normal criminal procedures with the goal of trying to prevent these actions.
My thoughts are that suspending laws in this way is completely counter-productive as follows:
1. Our laws were designed as the best way we know to gain the truth, rather than often stated to "protect" the guilty.
2. In times of great fear, history shows that laws must be more rigorously followed rather than suspended.
3. Gut reactions or powerful emotions like fear and rage lead to quick accusations which need to be assessed rationally.
4. Accusations without due process promote likelihood of error rather than prevent it.
5. The door is opened by fear-based loopholes in law for opportunistic people to use this power for personal gain at the expense of the innocent.
Thus, the order created by law-abiding citizens in following the laws will lose the security they hope to have and as accusations start to fly, society huddle into divisive camps trying to protect what they have and love against their neighbors without real cause. Investigative procedures once found illegal, using eavesdropping and high-tech, lead to a situation where any citizen may be required to prove him or herself as safe, which is impossible. So, no one is then safe.
By all means, let us return to our ways of proven law let everyone from top to bottom, follow them. Enforcers may then return to their roles as guardians of law and the principles they are base on.
Sharon Robinson
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