Letters to the Editor 5/15

Terrorists do not need our help

As a result of yet another inept mistake by the geniuses in the brain trust that is the Bush Administration, terrorists around the world are about to learn the extent of U.S. surveillance capabilities.

By plunging into the Al-Arian case with ideological fervor without first considering all potential consequences, our ability to protect the United States from serious threats is about to decrease dramatically.

Let me say from the outset that Sami Al-Arian is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The U.S. Constitution provides for due process, which is part of what makes the concept of constitutional democracy great. I do believe, however, that the government would not be pressing so hard if there were not substantial evidence of guilt in the case. The problem is, most of it is classified information that, if released, would castrate our surveillance ability. Al-Arian apparently is more knowledgeable about American law than the Bush Justice Department. By simply refusing counsel and representing himself, he is by law accorded access to all evidence against him. If he is associated with terrorists (as the government clearly believes he is), then he will be able to pass on anything he learns to his friends. Smart move, Mr. Ashcroft.

In light of the bombings in Saudi Arabia this week, where intelligence was already unable to determine a time and location of the threat from the surveillance chatter, do we really need to give the terrorists another advantage by telling them where and when we listen in so that they can prepare accordingly?

Nate Stafford is a graduate student majoring in biology