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Patriot Act co-author defends law, Roland challenges it

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  • Jon Roland
    Note from Jon Roland: Contrary to the article in the Austin American Statesman, there was more than one federal agent involved, and the orders for the breakin
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2003
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      Note from Jon Roland: Contrary to the article in the Austin American
      Statesman, there was more than one federal agent involved, and the orders
      for the breakin came from Jeff Jamar, then SAIC (Special Agent in Charge) of
      the San Antonio, Texas, office, who was also involved in the massacre of the
      Branch Davidians near Waco. For a contemporary report of the incident see


      Patriot Act co-author defends law

      Former assistant attorney general says new methods needed to face new



      By Andre Coe


      Thursday, October 30, 2003

      One of the co-authors of the USA Patriot Act said Wednesday night that
      the controversial law has been successful in fighting the war on

      Viet Dinh, a Harvard Law School graduate and former U.S. assistant
      attorney general for legal policy, told an audience at the Bass Lecture
      Hall that the United States was out of the "sprint" phase and into the
      "marathon" phase in the war, and that new methods were needed to face
      new problems.

      America must wage a war on terrorism, he said, because the international
      terrorist of today differs from the guerrilla warrior of yesterday.

      "The world is his battleground," Dinh said. "We can not wait on him to
      attack. Instead, we have crafted a plan to prepare against future
      terrorist attacks."

      That plan, the Patriot Act, was easily passed into law shortly after the
      Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It greatly expanded the government's
      surveillance and detention powers.

      Advocates say the law has helped close a technological gap created from
      the Internet, instant messaging and cell phone technology.

      But most critics say that if left unchecked, government agencies could
      run afoul of civil liberties with little to no accountability.

      After his speech, sponsored by the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of
      Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Dinh opened the floor for a
      question and answer session with the audience.

      "Come at me," he said as several hands shot up. "Yes, sir, you in the
      Tyranny Response Team shirt . . ."

      Dinh then responded to all questions, accusations or comments that
      audience members made.

      One passionately shared his concerns about the Patriot Act.

      "What you're really asking us to do is trust government officials," said
      Jon Roland, who said the law could lead to a reckless disregard for
      civil liberties and proper judicial procedure.

      Roland, who runs an Austin-based Web site on the Constitution, said a
      federal agent harassed him in 1994 because of a report he posted on the
      Internet regarding information he thinks shows that the government
      wanted to "burn out" Waco's Branch Davidian sect long before the attack
      of 1993.

      Dinh responded that if the facts are as he said, Roland should seek
      redress for what was done to him.

      "I came from a very strong tradition of severe distrust of government
      agents," said Dinh, a former Vietnam refugee. "I do not ask for your
      trust in government but for your trust in laws," he said.

      Dinh then told the audience that government can sometimes be wrong.

      "Mistakes will be made. Mistakes have been made," he said. "(But)
      procedures are in place to handle mistakes."

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