Americans Demand Freedoms Be
Kept During Bush's Terror War
By Wes Vernon

WASHINGTON - More than 150 organizations on the left and right, and hundreds of computer scientists and law professors are circulating a petition urging that personal freedoms not be sacrificed in the fight against terrorism.
At a news conference organized by the Free Congress Foundation's Coalition for Constitutional Liberties, the broad coalition recalled that in every conflict since the Civil War, the long-range pressures in the crisis of the moment have been aimed at greatly expanding the powers of the federal government to restrict our freedoms.
Anyone following much of the wall-to-wall TV coverage of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 has heard the repeated mantra about how "we're going to have to give up some of our freedoms" if we are to succeed in fighting back.
That, of course, puts President Bush and Congress, as well as state and local officials to a crucial test.
Bottom line: Can our lawmakers wage a war against terrorism in the name of protecting freedom and at the same time make sure that very freedom is not diminished at home by measures of our own government?
Free Congress President Paul M. Weyrich was among the first to warn of this dilemma within days of the attacks on the Pentagon and the Word Trade Center.
But it's not a case of either/or, the 150 co-signers warn. Pitting civil liberties against security is "a false choice," says their statement.
Among the groups in the coalition are the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) and the Rutherford Institute, generally considered conservative, and the American Civil Liberties Union and Common Cause, often in the forefront of liberal causes. All signed on to the statement entitled "In Defense of Freedom at a Time of Crisis."
Dr. Jane Orient, AAPS Director, says that while her organization "does not agree on every point or all wording of the statement," the potential for privacy violations was so great as to make this coming together of diverse groups was "necessary."
Government efforts to make haste in destroying our enemy must be encouraged, AAPS believes, but it is also possible to make haste in destroying our country "just to keep our adversaries from doing it first."
The co-signers believe calm is required to determine where our intelligence and security failed.
Already there are reports that legislation is being sought on Capitol Hill to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to tap our phones, monitor our e-mail, and check our voice-mail messages. Hopefully, such legislation won't see the light of day if it is formally introduced.
Reports are a dime a dozen in tense times such as what this country has experienced since Sept. 11. But this diverse group hopes Americans will be able to keep their heads as they go about their tasks in countering the monstrous threat we face.
This group is in no way to be confused with a so-called "peace" movement that is beginning to gather and hold demonstrations around the country against President Bush's attempts to rally the country in this time of crisis. That is a coalition with a different agenda.
The petition can be found at
This Site Served by TheHostPros