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Letters to the Editor

July 06, 2009

Changes needed to stop civil liberties violations



To the editor:

We expect our law enforcement to protect and serve, not eavesdrop and commit acts of voyeurism. But that is exactly what two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents are accused of doing at Middletown Mall in Fairmont, W.Va.

The nonprofit organization Hospice International hosted an event to provide inexpensive prom dresses to West Virginia teenage girls.

Two FBI agents, Gary Sutton Jr. of New Milton, W.Va., and Charles Hommema of Buckhannon, W.Va., are accused of moving a surveillance camera above the dressing room and zooming in on the teenage girls while they changed clothes. Both were charged with criminal invasion of privacy and conspiracy. Their trials were recently postponed.

"I can't even begin to put words around what I consider an unspeakable act - the misuse of surveillance by a branch of our government in a place we felt so secure," said Cynthia Woodyard, organizer of the event (Associated Press, April 2009). "Never in a million years would we have thought something like this would happen. We're in shock."

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Technology has made video cameras much smaller. They can be nearly impossible to detect. Taken from statistics by criminologists, it is likely hundreds of times more crimes like the one in West Virginia have occurred, but the FBI culprits were not caught. We need greater oversight of law enforcement and the creation of a Department of Civil Liberties Protection.

Having personally been beaten nearly to death for merely participating peacefully in a demonstration in Washington, D.C., for action on climate change, I know firsthand the horrors of a police state without checks and balances. We need major changes to prevent civil liberties violations from occurring again. Repealing the Patriot Act, which creates a secret, Gestapo police force, is a critical first step.

It is the lack of transparency the so-called Patriot Act creates that opens the doors for alleged crimes like the horrific violations of teenage girls that occurred in West Virginia. I believe these crimes are now regularly committed by "law" enforcement.

Chad Kister
Nelsonville, Ohio




People who have friends are truly blessed



To the editor:

People who have recognized the significance of friendships in their lives are truly blessed.

Life in the 21st century is difficult. Individuals who have true friends in most cases have an easier time navigating the stress of everyday life. Consider yourself fortunate if you have one true friend. If you have more than one then wake up every morning asking, why am I so lucky?

For my own life, I know it would be very difficult to have what I consider a fulfilling life without my friends.

In order to sustain friendships, time, effort and thought must be used daily.

Meredith Fouche
Sharpsburg

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