Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Congressman Ron Paul debate the Patriot Act and its implications for America.
Do we repeal the act, as Ron Paul would prefer, or do we strengthen it to further expand the government’s anti-terrorism capabilities?
Gingrich: I think looking at it carefully and extending and building an honest understanding that all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives. This is not going to end in the short-run and we need to be able to protect ourselves from those who, if they could, would not just kill us individually but would take out entire cities
No, I would not change it. I’m not aware of any specific change it needs and I would look at strengthening it because the dangers are literally that great….again, very sharp division. Criminal law, the government should be, frankly, on defense and you’re innocent until proven guilty. National security – the government should have many more tools in order to save our lives.
Ron Paul: Why I really fear it is we have drifted into a condition we were warned against
…Don’t be willing to sacrifice liberty for security. Today it seems to easy that our government and our Congresses are so willing to give up our security. I have a personal belief that you never have to give up liberty for security. You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights.
…This is like saying we need a policeman in every house, a camera in every house…
…You can prevent crimes by becoming a police state. If you advocate the police state, yes, you can have safety and security, and you might prevent a crime, but the crime then will be against the American people and against our freedoms and we will throw out so much of what our revolution was fought for, so don’t do it so carelessly.
The consensus among the majority of republican and democrat candidates is that maintaining the status quo is the only way forward in the war on terror. Contrary to what Speaker Gingrich argues is a separation between criminal law and war powers, what we have seen over the last decade is an ambiguous merging of the two, where unlawful acts that should fall under the jurisdiction of criminal law are being increasingly categorized as acts of terror.
The Patriot Act has certainly expanded the powers of police surveillance and enabled militarization and weaponization of domestic law enforcement agencies in the name of fighting terror. While there undoubtedly exists a threat against the American people, is further expansion of the Patriot Act necessary, and more importantly, is it justifiable to sacrifice even a few liberties (such as those that give us the right bear arms or be secure in our homes and persons) for the purported security and safety it would provide?
This is as important a debate as any and one that will have far reaching consequences for the future of the United States.