Debra J. Saunders

"Several of the Sept. 11 hijackers used public library computers to communicate with each other over the Internet, and other terrorist allies, and to conduct research that eventually led to the mass murder of more than 3,000 innocent Americans," Corallo added. "I don't think any reasonable person believes that a public library should be a safe haven for a terrorist."

Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, R-Idaho, sponsored a bill -- approved by the House in a 309-118 vote last month -- eliminating funding for what are called "sneak and peek" searches permitted in the Patriot Act, as authorities can delay informing parties searched.

Has Otter's office seen abuses of "sneak and peak"? Spokesman Mark Warbis said there was no particular case of abuse of the law that Otter's office could cite. Warbis noted that Otter supports many provisions in the Patriot Act, but "When it comes to constitutional rights, he believes he has a responsibility to be proactive, not wait until he sees violations, to protect those rights."

OK, but if the law were as egregious as critics -- Conyers, Otter, the ACLU -- suggest, and if it brought such sweeping changes, you would think there would be abuses to report.

I'll add that the feds are trying to prevent another Sept. 11 attack. So you'd think deliberative lawmakers would wait until abuses were evident before they rescinded a measure they passed overwhelmingly. Have they forgotten their goal was to prevent another Sept. 11?

Debra J. Saunders

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