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posted: 7/9/2013 5:00 AM

Protecting our liberty is elected officials' duty

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Benjamin Franklin once said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." We are now seeing how right (once again) he was. We have witnessed the federal government in the guise of the NSA and the Justice Department prying into the private lives of American citizens; gathering data on practically everyone who uses a cellphone or email. And the reason given is that we must "strike a balance" between safety and privacy (one of our liberties).

All this is being done to "help" us. It always is. The authority cited for this intrusion into our private lives is the Patriot Act, which Act was written to protect the United States from enemy attacks. Somehow, however, one of two things has happened. First, the federal government has stretched the intent of the law completely out of proportion, interpreting the law to give it permission to gather information from any source on anyone at any time. The second possibility is even scarier -- that the government now views its citizens as the enemy. This is intolerable. We are not the enemy.

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Ronald Reagan once said that the nine scariest words in the English language were "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Personally I would like a little less help. I am also willing to trade some safety for a lot more liberty -- you know, the stuff Americans have fought and died for over the last 240 years. And now they want to charge Edward Snowden with espionage. His crime is following the oath he took to protect and defend the Constitution. Maybe if our elected officials would "protect and defend" the Constitution someone like Snowden wouldn't have to.

Jim Hader

Palatine

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