Is more security worth less freedom?

Morgan Liggera

The Pierce College ENCORE/Oasis program continued its lecture series March 13 with Professor Norm Levy’s talk entitled, “Freedom vs. Security post 9/11.”ENCORE students accounted for the vast majority of the participants, but other students joined in as well.Glenda Guzman, who is in Levy’s political science class, attended the lecture.”What I would like to see is a debate type situation,” said Guzman. “More students should have come.”Those in attendance nearly filled the room and when given the opportunity to ask Levy questions, they enthusiastically responded, but time constraints forced Levy to continue with his lecture before he could answer them all.Levy spoke about the founding of the United States and several aspects the Constitution which should be looked at more closely today. “The president is deliberately limited,” said Levy. “The first article in the Constitution was the Congress, not the executive branch, not the president. In our atmosphere, in the 21st century, the executive branch more and more seems to be that it is the be-all and end-all of what is good for our country.””Jefferson and others argued during the debate as to ratifying the constitution because there’s nothing in the document that protects the rights of individuals,” Levy said. “They made the first article of the new Congress of the United States proposing amendments. It is those 10 amendments that separate us from a dictatorship.”After the events of 2001, legislation was passed which violated the rights of citizens as prescribed in the Constitution.”These are the principals on which this country was founded. Are we following these principles today?” Levy question.Levy discussed the Patriot Act, passed in October 2001, and Congressman Ron Paul, who voted against it because he, like many other representatives, had not been given time to read it.Another law, the Protect America Act, which expired Feb. 16, allowed the federal government to listen in on phone conversations if one of the parties is outside the U.S. Phone companies involved in recording these conversations were given retroactive immunity as part of the RESTORE Act (Responsible Electronic Surveillance that is Overseen, Reviewed and Effective).Another student of Levy’s who was in attendance, Tony Deveyra, found the Protect America and RESTORE Acts to be an attack on freedom.”That seamless cohesion of government and big business shows we’re headed toward a sort of fascism of corporatism,” Deveyra said. “Our freedom is going down the drain and we don’t even realize it.”Distributed at the lecture was a handout including a letter mailed from Brad Sherman to his constituents, describing legislation such as the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which allows for indefinite detainment of non-U.S. citizens. In his letter, Sherman says it “might be used to justify the long-term detention of U.S. citizens without access to court reviews.”The lecture posed the question: Is security worth the price? “If we have to give up the freedoms, one by one, that we cherish as part of this wonderful heritage and in return get tremendous security, but have no real quality of life to show for it, we are at a loss,” Levy said.Although politics may not be one of the top interests of young people, ENCORE/Oasis director Ida Blaine said students in the program enjoy learning about politics.”They love political topics and issues that are going on today,” Blaine said. Students in ENCORE/Oasis understand the importance of political occurrences and how they affect the future.”It affects us all,” said student Gertrude Kleinman. “A lot of seniors sit back and accept it, but we can do something.”The ENCORE/Oasis lecture series, which includes talks by many Pierce professors, covers a broad range of topics including religion, art, ethics, music, literature and others. “The idea is to showcase the instructors on campus,” said Blaine. “Students tell their friends, family and neighbors about the high-quality instruction at Pierce.”