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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2006
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EDITORIAL

What if al-Qaida intercepted our income tax payment?

Enough already with the government's use of hypothetical terror situations to justify secrecy and to restrict Americans' rights.

On Monday, a lobbyist for the Association of County Commissioners of Alabama was one of several government representatives encouraging a state panel, set up to overhaul Alabama's public records laws, to create a category of government public records that are not available to the public.

"Can a representative of al-Qaida come in and see plans for a courthouse?" lobbyist Sonny Brasfield asked members of the Alabama Open Records Study Task Force.

Some members of the panel want to make a distinction between "public" public records and "private" public records.

Mr. Brasfield is just the most recent of a horde of government officials playing the "terror card" in an attempt to promote government secrecy or curtail Americans' rights.

The Bush administration has used a similar scenario to eavesdrop on private conversations of U.S. citizens without first seeking approval of the special court set up for that express purpose.

Most Americans see the fallacy of the "terror card" ploy, which plays on security concerns to justify the erosion of our rights. While most of us are willing to submit to the inconvenient but relatively harmless airport security screening in order to reduce the risk of an airline threat, we can also tell when the ploy is taken to an absurd extreme.

For instance: "I refuse to pay my income taxes because al-Qaida could intercept the mail and I don't want to fund international terrorism."

Benjamin Franklin said: "Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty."

Mr. Franklin's words seem more relevant today than ever.

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