RUSH: Let’s go to the phones. It’s Open Line Friday on Thursday. Jennifer in Indianapolis. I’m glad you waited. Welcome to the program.
CALLER: Hi, Rush, thanks for taking my call.
CALLER: I had a question. The president, I saw on the news, is in Columbus — I assume that’s Ohio — trying to get support for beefing up the Patriot Act, and I’m a conservative but when I complain about the Patriot Act people say I’m a liberal. I just wondered what you thought about that because I just read Judge Napolitano’s book, Constitutional Chaos, which points out a lot of unconstitutional parts of the Patriot Act.
RUSH: Yeah, some things about it concern me, I must be honest: The ability to go out and storm into somebody’s house without a warrant, for something that they want.
CALLER: Or, the thing that gets me is the definition of an enemy combatant. I mean, that’s so vague that any of us, depending on who’s in power, could be an enemy combatant.
RUSH: This is a toughie because I think one of the things, Jennifer, that’s driving the Patriot Act — look what we just found out in Lodi, California.
RUSH: “Stuck in Lodi,” Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1968, I think — but you never know — apparently we’ve got open borders. We’ve got people in this country all over the place that could be part of cells. After 9/11 happened, you have to understand, leadership and law enforcement after 9/11, they really got reamed for doing a horrible job of preventing it when in many people’s minds it was preventable. At least if the dots had been connected we would have known more before it than we did after it — and I think there’s a reaction here among people that we’re not going to let this happen again no matter what. It’s a tough call. What is the “loose definition of an enemy combatant”? Do you have it handy?
CALLER: No, but I just remember in particular Section E which says that any person can be interned for their own protection.
CALLER: And to me that’s like, you know, round ’em up, round ’em up and put them in some kind of internment camp.
RUSH: Let me ask you this. Do you have a fear or a suspicion that at some point your government will use the features of the Patriot Act to round up people that have nothing to do with any suspicion whatsoever of terrorism?
CALLER: It’s my feeling that if they can generate enough public hostility towards a group, i.e., smokers, redheads, anybody, that they can get enough public sympathy to round people up. I truly believe that.
RUSH: I know a lot of people have your fear; a lot of people share your concern about it.
CALLER: Do you think that it’s not being talked about enough, though, in conservative circles and maybe intellectually analyzed?
RUSH: No, hardly. It’s all over the place. If you go to the right conservative places you’ll find there’s a huge argument about this among conservatives, particularly the conservative elites and the conservative intellectuals. There’s always an argument among our people over who’s the smartest person in the room and they’re always trying to outsmart each other with the fanciest smartest most obscure argument. The fact is these arguments are taking place within the conservative movement I think quite a lot. You have to look, though, at the success rate. Look it, has there been another attack on this country from within since the Patriot Act was authorized?
CALLER: No, there hasn’t.
RUSH: There has not been.
CALLER: But there is evidence that that act has been used to do things that weren’t related to terror, you know, that they’ve been used in other cases, those powers have been used.
RUSH: Well, yeah, you know, let me tell you something. There’s hypocrisy on both sides of this because I’m going to tell you something. You have plenty of liberals out there who are all for the cops raiding their political enemies, they’re all for the cops doing whatever they have to do to get whatever goods they want on their political enemies. And yet the Patriot Act comes, oh, you can’t do it, it’s an invasion of privacy. And yet in some cases they don’t care about other people’s privacy. Privacy is irrelevant to them depending on what the target is. So both sides of this, I wouldn’t suggest that there’s one side to this that’s pure and one side that’s not. At any rate, it’s a tough call for a lot of people. But you really can’t argue with the success rate and I, frankly, in this country don’t know too many people, I don’t know of anybody who’s been rounded up that is not under genuine suspicion about whom there is not a sufficient body of evidence to justify that suspicion. I don’t know of a rampant number of innocent people that have been rounded up under whatever auspices under the Patriot Act.
RUSH: All right, let’s go to the Patriot Act news. “President Bush on Thursday credited the Patriot Act with helping to convict more than 200 terrorists and dismissed accusations that the law has violated civil liberties. Bush described scary scenarios that he said were thwarted by law enforcement and intelligence officers working together with powers granted by the law he signed six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” Let’s go the audio sound bites. He was in Columbus, Ohio, gave a speech. We have sound bites. Here’s #1.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Since September 11th, federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half those charged have been convicted. Federal, state, and local law enforcement have used the Patriot Act to break up terror cells in New York and Oregon and Virginia and in Florida. We’ve prosecuted terrorist operatives and supporters in California, in Texas, and New Jersey, and Illinois, and North Carolina, and Ohio. These efforts have not always made the headlines but they’ve made communities safer. The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do.
RUSH: His audience, by the way, was a bunch of policeman, law enforcement sitting behind him and, by the way, it was very diverse. There were some people of color. There were some women. There were some women of color. There were even some white Christians sitting behind the president as he made his speech. By the way, did you hear what John Kerry said about Howard Dean? You probably haven’t heard this. He said, (doing impression) “I approved Dean before I disapproved him.” So everybody is getting in on the Howard Dean angle. I also asked in the last hour, asked Jennifer from Indianapolis who was the caller who brought this up, I said, “Jennifer, do you know of anybody who has been rounded up that has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism, somebody who had been unfairly, illegally rounded up by the Patriot Act?” And she said, “No, I can’t think of any, but it’s always a possibility.” I got an e-mail note from a guy, “What are you talking about? You ever heard of the Japanese being interned after World War II?” That wasn’t the Patriot Act. That was a Democrat that did that, FDR, without the Patriot Act. There was no Patriot Act when the Japanese were rounded up, and they were innocent. But don’t lay that on Bush or the Patriot Act. For crying out loud, the Patriot Act has only been in existence for, what, four years. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother going to the e-mail. Here’s our next sound bite from President Bush’s remarks.
PRESIDENT BUSH: At the end of this year, 16 critical provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to expire. Some people call these sunset provisions. It’s a good name, because letting those provisions expire would leave law enforcement in the dark. All 16 provisions are practical, important, and they are constitutional. Congress needs to renew them all, and this time Congress needs to make the provisions permanent.
RUSH: Yeah. Needs to make them permanent. One more. President says, the threat will not expire at the end of the year, and neither should the Patriot Act.
PRESIDENT BUSH: The House and Senate are moving forward with the process to renew the Patriot Act. My message to Congress is clear: That terrorist threats against us will not expire at the end of the year, and neither should the protections of the Patriot Act.
RUSH: Okay, so being the good journalists they are, CNN went out and got some people who opposed the president on this to talk to today. One of them was Senator Russ Feingold, half of the disastrous. You talk about taking away constitutional rights, how about campaign finance reform? How about McCain-Feingold, how about the First Amendment, Congress shall make no law abridging the blah, blah, blah, blah, rights to free speech, da-da-da-da-da. Campaign finance reform clearly says certain people can’t say what by virtue of this method at this time. Political speech has been abridged by the campaign finance reform law known as McCain-Feingold. Here’s Feingold on CNN upset about the Patriot Act. The question, as we were speaking, you have a different opinion about what these 16 provisions of the Patriot Act should do?
RUSS FEINGOLD: The president was talking about the very important fight against terrorism, and about the provisions of the Patriot Act that we all agree on. For example: getting the wall down between the CIA and the FBI but, frankly, it was just deceptive. What the president was doing was talking about provisions that nobody objects to such as the provisions that allow a sneak-and-peek search of your house that can be indefinite in time without any limitations. So the president basically was doing a bait-and-switch.
RUSH: So the next question, “Well, I pointed out that you are the only senator back in 2001 that voted against this. Sounds like you definitely stand by that vote. It’s been at least here in the US a relatively safe three and a half years since then. Do you think that you gained company or are you still a lone voice there in the Senate?”
RUSS FEINGOLD: Not only am I not alone, I think we may even have a majority in the House in some of these provisions. The president is moving in the wrong direction. He apparently doesn’t understand the need to balance our rights with the need to fight terrorism. We need to do both, not just have law enforcement be able to do whatever they want without a judge reviewing what’s going on. That’s absolutely essential to our system of government and to our freedoms.
RUSH: That’s an interesting reference there because I think that is the one thing that has a lot of people sort of scratching their heads. Why do you have to take the judge out of the equation? If you need a warrant to go search somebody’s house, you think they’re a suspected terrorist, go to the judge and get it. But to be able to allow law enforcement in without a judge, a lot of people are very nervous about that, and understandably so. And there’s something else, folks, and I remember saying this after 9/11 happened, and before the Patriot Act was even conceived. And, by the way, it’s a theory and a strategy that is articulated and has been for much longer than I’ve even been alive, and we talk about it in so many subjects, so many different ways, and we have over the course of this program, and it’s very simple. Any time you start trading liberty for security, you’re sunk. This is a fine line. You know the ramifications of this, or at least the other applications. We look at people all over the world who say they’d rather live as slaves and be safe than take the risks — and we always condemn people for giving up their liberty in the name of security and safety. There is a fine line to walk, there’s no question about this, and it does have some people concerned.