Gov. Gary Johnson to ACLU: Repeal Patriot Act Now

January 30, 2012, Orlando, FL -- Speaking Sunday night to a national ACLU conference, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson called for repealing the Patriot Act in its entirety.  The two-term governor and presidential candidate’s remarks were delivered in Orlando, FL, at the ACLU’s annual National Staff Conference.

Johnson said, “Ten years ago, we learned that the fastest way to pass a bad law is to call it the ‘Patriot Act’ and force Congress to vote on it in the immediate wake of a horrible attack on the United States.  The irony is that there is really very little about the Patriot Act that is patriotic.  Instead, it has turned out to be yet another tool the government is using to erode privacy, individual freedom and the Constitution itself.

“Benjamin Franklin had it right. ‘Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety’.

“Absolutely, protecting the American people from those who would do us harm is the federal government’s most basic duty.  Everyone gets that.  But when harm is done, as on 9-11, it is the nature of government to ask for more power and more  authority in order to protect us.  That’s how we get laws like the Patriot Act.

“In fact, we now know that intelligence ‘failures’ of the sort that perhaps allowed 9-11 to happen were not due to a lack of authority, but were most likely the result of dysfunction.  We can and should fix the dysfunction, but that can be done without granting the government broad new powers to dig in to American’s lives, demand financial records from banks and businesses, and monitor your cell phone because your kid goes to school with a kid whose father might be associated with what might be a terrorist-supporting organization.

“Thoughtful review and actual experience over the past ten years under the Patriot Act have given us the wisdom of hindsight.  That hindsight leads me to the firm conclusion that it is a law that we do not need in order to protect ourselves, and that is itself a threat to the very constitutional guarantees of freedom it purports to preserve.

“After many promises to review, revise and make the Patriot Act less abusive, Congress last year extended its most troubling provisions until 2015.  That is too long to wait for another serious discussion of the essential liberties the Patriot Act threatens.  Congress should repeal it, and focus on restoring freedom rather than eroding it.”   

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About Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson: Gary Johnson, two-term Governor of New Mexico from 1994-2002, has been a consistent and outspoken advocate for limited, efficient government and personal liberty.