Tarrant and Sanders differ on information gathering

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(Host) Independent U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican candidate Richard Tarrant have very different points of view concerning the Bush Administration’s efforts to gather information as part of the war on terrorism.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The recent disclosure of the Administration’s plan to track the phone calling patterns of millions of Americans serves as a good example of how these two candidates differ on this overall issue.

Sanders says the plan is illegal. Tarrant disagrees and says Americans must be willing to give up some of their liberties in times of war if the country is to remain strong.

The Bush plan has so angered Sanders that he’s joined a legal effort to prohibit this practice in the future.

(Sanders) “This president cannot do whatever he wants whenever he wants to. That is illegal. That is unconstitutional to my mind – the idea that the government can tap people’s phones or get into their emails without a court warrant is clearly wrong and it is clearly illegal.”

(Kinzel) Sanders says it’s important to conduct effective anti terrorism programs, but he says these programs must be conducted within the limits of the law.

(Sanders) “We want a vigorous investigation of anybody that the government or the FBI believes is involved in terrorist activity. But you can’t just have a situation where the government can go after anybody for any reason without any probable cause, without going to getting a court warrant. I think that that is a very dangerous precedent.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant told reporters recently that certain rights have always been at risk in previous wars and that the war on terrorism fits this pattern.

(Tarrant) “I think in general the Patriot Act and now the phone issue – keep in mind that this happens in just about every war we have a Congress and the President at odds about power. And I think in general, over time, we find that Americans are willing to give up some of their privacy for protection, knowing they can get that privacy back at the end of the war.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant says the security of the country has to be one of the highest priorities in a time of war.

(Tarrant) “I think it’s a matter of balance. I don’t want to lose all rights but I’d be willing to sacrifice some rights for security. But the good part of this debate is there are two aspects of the Constitution that are seemingly at odds. It’s a good thing to publicly debate that. That’s a good thing in this country.”

(Kinzel) Tarrant admits that the war on terrorism is different from previous conflicts and he says it may be difficult to know exactly when the war has been won.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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