Unchecked Power
by Jay B. Van Story
May 7, 2005

Overzealous Cops and Prosecutors

The U.S. Justice Department is lobbying Congress for additional powers under the "Patriot Act." They claim that we, as a people, will not be safe unless we preserve and expand the additional powers provided by the Patriot Act. It's a carefully scripted scare tactic. 

What's really scary is thinking about who is going to protect us from the erosion of basic, vital constitutional rights that everyone suffers under the Patriot Act. It seems we're trading one set of perpetrators - the terrorists - for another - overzealous cops and prosecutors. History has shown us again and again that authorities cannot be trusted with unchecked power. That is why our forefathers drafted our Constitution in the first place. 

The DNA age has revealed that many cops and prosecutors have lied and cheated to arrest and convict innocent people. The solution is certainly not more power. That would only invite additional abuses of power. Cops and prosecutors have used existing Patriot Act powers to go after garden-variety criminals. We were promised they would only pursue terrorists without regard for our Constitution. If we're not careful about guarding our basic rights, pretty soon we'll be referring to them in the past tense. 

I view the debate about due process and individual rights quite differently than most. I have been falsely imprisoned for over 17 years as a result of an egregious abuse of power by investigators and prosecutors. The alleged victim in my case voluntarily came forward in August 2000, insisting that investigators and prosecutors forced her to adopt their false suggestions that I had sexually assaulted her. She insists she told them I have never harmed her, but they wouldn't listen. They were drunk with power. 

At the time, the prosecutors were in the middle of orchestrating a huge, wide-ranging conspiracy. They were routinely suborning perjury to get convictions and indictments. They were willing to threaten a little girl and force her to tell terrible lies to convict an innocent man. They cared nothing about truth and justice. Under the Patriot Act, it is even easier for corrupt prosecutors like them to falsely indict and convict innocent people. 

If the Patriot Act is not scaled back to provide meaningful checks and balances, many more innocent people will be robbed of their freedom. There needs to be more protections from police and prosecutorial power, not less.

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