Column by Harry Goslin.
Since October 26, 2001, the United States has undergone several transformations. That's the date the original version of the PATRIOT Act became law and marked the beginning of Police State America.
Whenever "key" provisions of the Act were scheduled to "sunset," we have been bombarded by warnings from Congress and the executive branch of dire consequences for the United States should the Patriot Act not be continued in its entirety.
We hear the usual platitudes that have become common since the Act was first passed. Shrill voices speak of how it is absolutely "vital" that any components of the Act set to expire be extended so that law enforcement has the necessary "tools" to "combat" terrorism to keep America "safe."
That old adage, that law enforcement cannot be everywhere at once, regardless of whatever proto-fascist structure you create to promote "security," would carry little to no weight in such an emotionally-charged environment.
Too many still believe that laws like the Patriot Act actually provide a foundation for the state to protect its subjects. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Patriot Act was sold as a law that would give law enforcement the "tools" necessary to prevent another 9/11. It was specific to fighting terrorism. But, like all laws that don't have enough bad guys to target, other "bad" guys can easily be found.
The vast majority of individuals accused, but not convicted, of "terrorist activity" the last ten years have been for such offenses as arguing with flight attendants, protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and using a laser pointer to look at stars with a child.
Legislators and law enforcement, being components of the state, cannot sit idly by waiting for somebody to do bad. If no one can be found to be breaking laws intended to stop terrorists, well, then, you have to improvise.
Stretch the interpretation of the law. Throw the net wider to ensure more can be found in violation of the law. Expand the meaning of "terrorist" and "terrorism." Make a molehill into a mountain.
If nothing more, sufficient concern will have been created to push for specific changes to existing laws to make sure the "tools" will exist in the future to stop "bad" guys. More funding for law enforcement and other "security" measures is a certainty.
Then we just keep marching down a familiar road. Like drug laws. The "tools" necessary to fight drugs were supposed to save us from bad guys and bad stuff. All we got was a gutting of the 4th Amendment. Well, we've gotten nothing but complete destruction of the Constitution under the Patriot Act.
More laws don't mean more safety and security. The Patriot Act is the best example of this. It means less freedom for all as this country continues to turn into a giant prison, allowing movement and behavior so long as it's acceptable to the guardians.
Welcome to another, newest version of America.