By Chad MurphyRecord-Courier staff writerAKRON Kent State University journalism professor Tim Smith said he thinks the federal government overreacted in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. As a result of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, passed in October 2001, the government now has the authority to monitor e-mailed communications and review college transcripts without notifying the student being monitored. Smith, a lawyer teaching classes in media law and the First Amendment, said that in a free society, people should be able to express their opinions.Overall, the idea is we should be able to say (or) write what we think without fear of retribution, he said.Smith along with Chris Link, executive director of the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, and Wilson R. Huhn, University of Akron professor of law were part of an Akron Press Club forum titled How Free is a Free Society, held Monday at the Martin University Center on the Akron U campus.Link said, that in times of crisis, the government has always expanded its power. She said it was the duty of citizens to push back against the powers the government seizes.If the Patriot Acts successor is passed, she said it would give the government the power to strip people of their citizenship to conduct their trials in secret and without the rights allotted to U.S. citizens. Through the Patriot Act, Link said the government has the authority to examine bank records, credit card transactions and other monetary transactions with low-level judicial warrants. It also allows different agencies to keep files secret which formerly were open to public examination. Link said this would decrease accountability of agencies by keeping their files out of the hands of newspapers and watchdog groups.Huhn wondered what the reaction would be if another terrorist attack happened on U.S. soil.What I fear is that America really would go on the warpath if we were attacked again, he said.