A Shield That?s Working

Posted: Feb 01, 2004 12:00 AM

 The federal government does many things. It pays farmers to grow?or not grow?crops. It racks up huge bills for pork-barrel items ranging from bike paths to tattoo removal. It even runs programs that hand out condoms to high-school children.

The list goes on and on. Small wonder the federal government spent $20,000 per household last year.

But there?s one important job it?s supposed to be doing: Protecting us from foreign threats. That?s why we should give credit where it is due.

The leadership of President Bush and his foreign policy team has made us safer today than we were last year?and far safer than we were on Sept. 10, 2001.

Consider these accomplishments:

· Osama bin Laden is hiding in a cave, whispering idle threats into a tape recorder.

· Saddam Hussein is out of power and in custody.

· Afghanistan soon will elect a democratic government.

· Libya has agreed to end its nuclear weapons program.

· India and Pakistan say they are committed to a peaceful resolution of their differences.

All these represent important steps toward a more secure world. And they all happened because the United States showed international leadership and projected power.

Our friends on the left take a slightly different view.

They claim we?re not safer with Saddam behind bars. They accuse us of ?forgetting about? Afghanistan. They would have us believe Libya is voluntarily stuffing the nuclear genie back in the bottle. They pretend that our strong actions to crack down on terrorists, wherever they are, had nothing to do with Pakistan?s decision to end guerrilla warfare and open peace talks with India.

They?re wrong. We?re safer now because we?re taking the fight to the terrorists, instead of waiting for them to attack us.

Some ?view terrorism more as a crime, a problem to be solved mainly with law enforcement and indictments,? President Bush said in his State of the Union address. However, ?the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got.? War on their turf, not ours.
We?re safer here at home, too.

The Justice Department is judiciously enforcing the Patriot Act, which took a number of laws already on the books and applied them to terrorism?without violating our civil rights. As former Attorney General Edwin Meese has observed: ?There are now more protections, including the requirement of a judicial authority to get third-party records such as library records. This is not the ability to go into someone?s home and take his private papers.?

Federal prosecutors are using the Patriot Act to detain wrongdoers, not conduct fishing expeditions. The law is working as it was supposed to by making life more difficult for terrorists?and for terrorists alone. Even the American Civil Liberties Union has had to admit that there hasn?t been a single proven abuse of the Patriot Act.

Because of the Patriot Act, the government has the same power to wiretap and track terrorists that it has long used against drug dealers and mobsters. However, as President Bush noted in the State of the Union, key sections of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. We should continue to monitor the Patriot Act closely to ensure that it treads on no American?s civil rights. But as long as it isn?t, we should renew it.

There?s an adage that says, ?Thank God we don?t get all the government we pay for.? We?d certainly be better off if lawmakers slashed government spending this year.

But when it comes to homeland defense, we are getting what we pay for. Our men and women in uniform, with strong leadership from the White House, are keeping us safe. And that?s the best investment we can make.