He was giving his farewell address at the National Press Club, and he ended by fervently addressing his colleagues in Congress: "How do you use these tools we have given you to make us safe in such a manner that will preserve our freedom? . . . Freedom is no policy for the timid. And my plaintive plea to all my colleagues that remain in this government as I leave it is, for our sake, for my sake, for heaven's sake, don't give up on freedom!"
This latter-day Minuteman was the very conservative House majority leader, Dick Armey. The same Dick Armey who, while still in office, defied George W. Bush and John Ashcroft by tearing out a provision of the "Freedom and Security" section of the administration's Homeland Security Bill, a plan ("Operation Tips") that would have given millions of Americans the authority to formally report, via a toll-free number, "suspicious" or "unusual" activity (otherwise undefined) that struck them as terrorist-related.
Roared Representative Armey as he killed that section, at least for a time: "Citizens will not be informants!" At the same time, Democratic congressional leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt were both conspicuously silent on "Operation Tips."
In the current Democrat-controlled Congress, what will the leadership do regarding the FBI's STAR program and the surveillance of American citizens from on high by spy satellites? I know I can count on senators Pat Leahy and Ron Wydenbut how many other Democrats, fearful of being tarred as soft on terrorism by our commander-in-chief, will once more refuse to take a stand?