Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 24, 2005 / 17 Sivan, 5765

You can't judge a book by its cover, but we may find a terrorist by what he reads

By David Gelernter


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In a fit of civil libertarian zeal, the House of Representatives voted, 238 to 187, to block the Justice Department and the FBI from checking library records and bookstore sales slips. These tail-wagging House members expect to be patted on the head for defending platitudes while ignoring reality.


The vote came as part of the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which was passed shortly after 9/11 and will expire at year's end unless Congress extends it. The Bush administration would like to see all 15 provisions of the act extended.


By refusing, the House boldly proclaims that it opposes snooping. But so does everyone else in the world, in principle. No one wants investigators to compromise privacy — unless they have good reasons to do so.


But the Justice Department argues that without these provisions covering bookstores and libraries, such places will be havens for terrorists. And checking out hunches is exactly how you preempt crime.


Preemption of crime and terrorism is what Americans want — and what we've been getting since September '01. The Bush strategy, based on the Patriot Act and lots of other programs, seems to be working beautifully. On long-ago 9/11, not many people would have bet we could make it this far with no second attack; it's just conceivable that these Justice guys know what they're doing. If they're desperate to have these provisions renewed, let's cut them some slack.


Opponents disagree. Protecting privacy, they say, takes precedence over making things comfy for law enforcement. They're right, other things being equal. But other things aren't.


First, we are at war. Second, privacy in the United States is a joke. The IRS collects more information about me in one year than a library could amass in a lifetime. Amazon.com and countless other websites collect tons of data every day. The New York Times won't register me online unless I disclose my occupation and income, which are none of its business. Video cameras on Earth and in space photograph us constantly. So where is this sacrosanct "privacy" we're guarding so fanatically?


Books, it's true, are quasi-sacred in a democracy. But information is the most potent weapon in a terrorist's arsenal. Terrorists have learned to fly airplanes and would love to find other ways to kill people. But they need information. Which is sometimes found in books.


Books can also reveal what people are thinking. According to an American Library Assn. study, someone borrowed a library book on Osama bin Laden and wrote in the margin: "Hostility toward America is a religious duty and we hope to be rewarded by God." How many people describe hostility to America as "a religious duty"? The ones who do just might be terrorists. No one says they should all be rounded up and shot. But what's wrong with checking them out?

Donate to JWR

In this case, another library patron noticed the note in the margin and told the FBI. The FBI asked (informally) who had borrowed the book since 9/11. The library wouldn't say. Eventually the terrifying, fire-breathing, rights-trampling FBI gave in. (In fact, it has never used the Patriot Act to look at library or bookstore records.)


But why shouldn't the government use this sort of data to hunt for prospective terrorists.


Opponents argue that heaping helpings of Patriot Act data information might tempt prosecutors to go after innocent people. That only means we should crack down on abusive prosecutors (as we should anyway) — not on the FBI's power to locate terrorists.


New polls show that a clear majority supports the Patriot Act. Meanwhile, the number of Americans staying up nights worrying about their vulnerable library records does not appear to be spiraling out of control. The public is willing to sacrifice some privacy to beat terrorism. If you disagree and expect to be taken seriously as a privacy champion, go after the IRS. To prove you are on the level, attack the hard targets, not the easy ones. And let the FBI get back to business.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.



Yale professor David Gelernter is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, Jerusalem. To comment, please click here.


ARCHIVES


© 2005, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles