Letter: The Washington Post, Nov 17, 2001

    From: Faisal Jawdat
    Date: Sat Nov 17, 2001  02:37:25 PM US/Pacific
    To: letters@washpost.com
    Subject: End-Running the Bill of Rights

    To the Editor,

    Your editorial, "End-Running the Bill of Rights" (Friday, November 16,
    2001; Page A46), states, "But the potential damage is so great, to U.S.
    credibility abroad as well as U.S. liberty at home, that such courts
    should be viewed as an absolutely last resort, particularly in domestic
    cases."

    If this is "potential" damage, I'd hate to see the real thing.  When the
    "USA PATRIOT Act" sailed through both houses of congress with almost as
    few objections as instances of elected representatives actually knowing
    what they were approving, the message to the world was clear:  the
    United States Government believes the safest place for liberty is in the
    garbage can.

    But we are fooling ourselves if we think the world isn't taking notes as
    we push for "unity" while eliminating 346 of the 462 words in the Bill
    of Rights for any government bureaucracy willing to yell "terrorist" in
    a crowded democracy.  The passage of that act heralded mention in every
    foreign press from Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly to Russia's Pravda.

    When the state press of the former Soviet Union can claim "The Tree of
    Freedom Has Faded Forever" without a trace of irony, the damage is
    already done.  The only question is how to undo it.

    Regards,
    Faisal Jawdat