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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

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The US Justice Department’s internal watchdog said on Monday that it had demanded investigations into nearly three dozen credible complaints of abuses committed in the implementation of the controversial USA Patriot Act.

The alleged abuses, committed mostly against Muslim suspects rounded up as part of the war on terrorism, ranged from beatings to threats, as well as one allegation that FBI agents planted evidence. The inspector-general’s office said that it had received more than 1,000 complaints of civil rights violations under the Patriot Act in the six months ending June 15; 34 cases were deemed serious and credible enough to warrant investigations.

34 out of 1000. That’s not bad. But that’s only the complaints. How many other cases has the Patriot Act played a part in? Regardless, we are left with 34 cases of abuse of civil rights. It is easy to say that 1 case is too many, but that only leads to anarchy. Mistakes will be made because humans are involved, so we must accept 1 case or abandon laws all together. I’m not ready to do that just yet.

So the question becomes, are 34 cases worth it? To answer that, we must determine the benefits. What are we getting out of the Patriot act? 34 cases worth of protection? I don’t know. It is the inherent flaw of laws. When they’re working, we don’t see the benefits. Is terrorism down? It seems like it. Is it because of the Patriot Act? I somehow doubt it.

So what benefits have we gotten from the Patriot Act? It would seem very few. So are the 34 cases worth it? If the benefits are small, it would seem not. However, the fact that we have an watchdog groups aimed directy at this gives some hope. The fact that this report was issued proves that things aren’t nearly as bad as some would have us believe. We need to keep an eye on the Patriot Act and push to end it when it expires, but remember that we do need laws. Finding the balance between safety and liberty is a never ending task but the Patriot Act is on the wrong side of it.

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