Ron Paul Classic: Perfect Safety is not the Purpose of Government

Below and here is then-Congressman and Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul's official statement opposing the reauthorization of certain PATRIOT Act provisions, including Sec. 215, in 2011.

Campaign for Liberty is working to block renewal of all the sunsetting PATRIOT Act provisions--either via a "clean" reauthorization or as part of a "phony" reform bill like the USA FREEDOM Act-- please help our efforts by contributing to our Stop the Surveillance State Banner Bomb.

(hat tip Adam Dick at RPI).

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill. I was opposed to the Patriot Act in 2001, and do not believe now that it is a good idea to extend it.

The Fourth Amendment is rather clear. It says that we should be secure in our papers, our persons, our homes, and our effects; and, that if warrants are to be issued, we have to do it with probable cause, and describe in particular the places, the people, and the things that we are going to look at.

I think what has happened, though, over the years has been that we have diluted the Fourth Amendment. It was greatly diluted in 2001, but it started a lot earlier than that. When the FISA law was originally written in 1978, that really introduced the notion that the Fourth Amendment was relative and not absolute. Later on, it was further weakened in 1998, and then of course in 2001.

I think our reaction to the horrors of 9/11--we can understand the concern and the fear that was developed, but I think the reaction took us in the wrong direction, because the assumption was made of course that we weren't spending enough money on surveillance. Even though then our intelligence agencies received $40 billion, that didn't give us the right information. So now we are spending $80 billion. But it also looks like the conclusion was that the American people had too much privacy, and if we undermine the American people's privacy, somehow or another we are going to be safer.

I think another thing that has come up lately has been that the purpose of government is to make us perfectly safe. Now, it is good to be safe, but governments can't make us safe. I question whether or not we have been made safer by the Patriot Act. But let's say a law makes us somewhat safer. Is that a justification for the government to do anything they want?

For instance, if you want to be perfectly safe from child abuse and wife beating, the government could put a camera in every one of our houses and our bedrooms, and maybe there would be somebody made safer this way. But what would you be giving up?

So perfect safety is not the purpose of government. What we want from government is to enforce the law and to protect our liberties.

This, to me, has been, especially since 9/11, a classical example of sacrificing liberty for safety and security. Now, I didn't invent those terms. They have been around a long time. And it is easily justified, and I can understand it, because I was here in 2001 when this came up, and people become frightened, and the American people want something done. But I think this is misdirected, and it doesn't serve our benefits.

I think at this time we should really question why we are extending this. We are extending the three worst parts. Why were these sunsetted? Because people had concern about them. They weren't sure they were good pieces and maybe they were overkill, and, therefore, they were saying we had better reassess it.

So what have we done? We have already extended it twice, and here we are going to do it again, with the intent, I think, in a year to reassess this. But this bill doesn't make things worse, it doesn't make anything better, but it does extend what I consider and others consider bad legislation. I ask for a ``no'' vote on this legislation.

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