|December 15, 2005||EDITORIAL ARCHIVES|
Is a Terrorist More Likely to Kill You with a Book or a .50 Caliber Sniper Rifle? The Answer to that Question Tells You a Lot About Why the [Un]Patriot Act is a Soviet-Style Power Grab and Has More to Do with Ensuring Long-term Republican Rule than Protecting Us.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Have you ever been threatened or killed with a book? Do you know anyone who has?
Well, apparently the Bush Administration believes books are so threatening it is rolling out its thuggish lobbying effort to renew the [Un]Patriot Act that will, among other violations of our Constitutional rights, continue to allow the FBI to force libraries to disclose what books we checked out. And the Republican House went along on Wednesday with the Stalinist interest of the Busheviks in ferreting out our book reading habits.
But while we, like you, have never felt at risk when around people with books, we have felt fearful when around people with guns, especially the kind of firearms that can shoot down planes landing or taking off -- or blow up gas storage tanks.
But does the [Un]Patriot Act prevent potential terrorists from buying guns? No, of course not. Because the [Un]Patriot Act isn't about making us more secure. It is about creating Soviet style secret police powers to ensure that the Republicans can stay in power indefinitely. No, that's not an exaggeration.
If it's not about this, then how come the New York Times reported in March of 2005 that suspects on the FBI terrorist watch list were freely buying guns, because one of the most loyal and generous Republican constituencies, the NRA, is against keeping potential terrorists from "exercising their Second Amendment right" to buy firearms?
According to a March 8, 2005, New York Times article: "Dozens of terror suspects on federal watch lists were allowed to buy firearms legally in the United States last year, according to a Congressional investigation that points up major vulnerabilities in federal gun laws.
People suspected of being members of a terrorist group are not automatically barred from legally buying a gun, and the investigation, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, indicated that people with clear links to terrorist groups had regularly taken advantage of this gap."
In an April 4, 2005, editorial, the New York Times warned: "Keeping terror suspects from buying guns seems like an issue the entire nation can rally around. But the National Rifle Association is, as usual, fighting even the most reasonable regulation of gun purchases. After the G.A.O. report came out, Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.'s executive vice president, took to the airwaves to reiterate his group's commitment to ensuring that every citizen has access to guns, and to cast doubt on the reliability of terrorist watch lists.
Unfortunately, the N.R.A. -- rather than the national interest -- is too often the driving force on gun policy in Congress, particularly since last November's election. Even after the G.A.O.'s disturbing revelations, the Senate has continued its work on a dangerous bill to insulate manufacturers and sellers from liability when guns harm people. If it passes, as seems increasingly likely, it will remove any fear a seller might have of being held legally responsible if he provides a gun used in a terrorist attack."
Since that editorial, the unprecedented gun manufacturer and dealer immunity bill that the New York Times warned against was passed by the Republican Congress and signed into law by Bush. Now potential terrorists, including those on the FBI watch list, are even more protected by the NRA to ensure that they can purchase a gun. This includes the .50 caliber sniper rifle that can shoot down planes landing or taking off or be used in attacks on a nuclear power plant, chemical manufacturing complex, or petroleum tank farm.
But the Bush Administration doesn't care whether or not terrorists can legally buy guns in the United States. Forget about terrorists with high-powered firearms; Attorney General Gonzales is sending the message that it is terrorists with books who are a real threat to us.
No, the real immediate threat is the Bush administration, which would take away our most basic liberties -- while ignoring the real terrorist risks -- in order to expand their secret powers. There is no logic to most of the Patriot Act except when viewed through the prism of extending this regime's imperial powers.
We repeat the question: Is a terrorist more likely to kill us with a book or a military style weapon of war that they can freely purchase in the United States?
In the answer to that question, we discover the true ignoble and dangerous threat to national security that the unquenchable thirst for power of the Republican Party and this White House poses to all Americans.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL