A heightened need to exaggerate and invent

Senator John Cornyn asks for an honest debate about the Patriot Act during upcoming hearings. Past debate has been characterized by so many false and misleading statements by Patriot Act opponents that even Senator Diane Feinstein has complained.
In one case described by Senator Cornyn, the ACLU stated that a federal court had struck down parts of the Patriot Act, calling the decision “a landmark victory against the Ashcroft Justice Department.” Newspapers repeated this claim. But it turned out that the statute in question was not the Patriot Act, but rather the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, drafted by liberal Democrat Patrick Leahy and endorsed at the time by the ACLU.
One might have expected that debate over legislation concerning an issue as vital as homeland security would occur on a higher plane than normal. However, it may be that groups like the ACLU sense a heightened need to exaggerate or invent Patriot Act related affronts to civil liberties precisely because the interests protected by the Patriot Act are so vital.


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