Friday, June 10, 2005

Why the Patriot Act Needs Some Changes

President Bush is calling for the renewal of the Patriot Act without change and with additions. Despite repeated criticism about the act going too far in sacrificing freedoms to protect us, Bush feels that the act is fair and balanced. He is mistaken.

First, I should state that Bush is right when he says we need to be able to vigorously investigate possible terrorist activities. Much of the Patriot Act is vital and has helped tear down barriers between intelligence agencies and law enforcement as well as provide new and better methods of investigating terrorism—such as roving wire taps and e-mail tracing.

But where the Patriot Act goes wrong is in the removal of judicial oversight. As the ACLU has accurately pointed out:

Under section 215 of the Patriot Act, judges who sit on a secret court must approve a request for records about people’s health, wealth or the transactions of their daily life if the law enforcement agents say they want it for a foreign intelligence investigation. None of these requests has ever been denied and the order includes a permanent gag order. And the White House has refused the common sense requirement that there be specific facts connecting the records sought to a foreign agent. And, at the same time, the White House is now pushing for ‘administrative subpoenas,’ which would allow the FBI to issue and sign its own search orders - without prior judicial approval. If this became law, we would go from diminished judicial approval to none at all.

Some might argue that these are necessary steps because our enemy is so evil. And yet, let’s not forget why we are fighting. It is not just for our lives, it is for our freedoms too. And freedom is compromised when government takes too much power. Which is why our Founders gave us the Bill of Rights and, specifically, the Fourth Amendment:

The Right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized.

There are other provisions in the Patriot Act that many people take issue with. It’s not a perfect act, being created just weeks after September 11, 2001, when passions were still heated and fear still great. Congress now has an opportunity to review many provisions and correct errors they may have made in their understandable haste in 2001.

Congress should make a number of changes to the Patriot Act to ensure the very freedoms we are fighting for remain in the hands of the people and not the government. But if they make only one change, it should be to reinstate full judicial oversight. I trust our law enforcement to do what’s right, but it is foolish to assume there will not be those who abuse their power. The issuance of warrants by a judge is the best check available, it can be handled quickly—and it’s mandated by the Constitution.

The President is just trying to protect our lives. But Congress needs to make sure our freedoms are protected too.


At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said... long as the Patriot Act stays in force, our way of life will continue to be in jeopardy. The question is not should it be modified as suggested. The question is does the Congress see the necessity to let the entire act die, never again to see the light of day.

We are slowly losing what our forefathers enacted to preserve our way of life. Wake up! It is time for the people to demand the Act be abolished.

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe that so many people can be against this act while all of the so-called representatives are for it. They are literally signing our lives away. We've already seen what secrecy and lack of accountability does to organizations. The majority of Americans are going to be suffering from the injustice of this act sooner than anyone would imagine.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Jdeer165 said...

I have never understood how we could have fought two World Wars and a Cold War without giving up these freedoms, but in the War on Terror we can no longer afford to have these freedoms. I don't get it.

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the words of hip hop artist Talib Kweli, "GIVING UP FREEDOM FOR FREEDOM IS NO FREEDOM AT ALL!"

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with all 3of these comments.I don't understand..after all the men and women who died for our freedoms
George Bush wants to take them away
in the name of terror.He hasn't earnd the right! The Patriot Act
is the most UnAmerican piece
of legislation ever enacted!And with
out the citizens of this country's
permission.Kill it now before it just
slips in again!

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with all 3of these comments.I don't understand..after all the men and women who died for our freedoms
George Bush wants to take them away
in the name of terror.He hasn't earnd the right! The Patriot Act
is the most UnAmerican piece
of legislation ever enacted!And with
out the citizens of this country's
permission.Kill it now before it just
slips in again!

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over a million American soldiers have given their lives for this country. They fought, and troops continue to fight for freedom and democracy around the world. Creating democracy is the reason that we are in Iraq today. But it is that democracy, rooted in seperation of powers and checks and balances, that is being dismantled, piece by piece, by the Bush administration and the Patriot Act. The public must not remain disengaged or silent when our liberties and freedom are being threatened so blatently. Yes, there need to be reformations, there needs to be an increase in competency of the problem at hand. But to make the Patriot Act permanent, without revision, is to expose every US citizen to the dangerous possibilty of a being falsely accused of a crime without the rights we have been granted in the Constitution. When those are gone, what did all those people fight for?
Unfortunately, it seems as though few seems to care or even realize what is going on. 59% of people want the Act renewed. Bush remains popular. And the Republicans control all branches of government.

to quote Star Wars--
"So this is how libterty thunderous applause."

One day things will change. The pendulum will swing back to center, and slowly to the left. And we will hopefully have the chance to correct these attacks to the great people of America.

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been said that "Patriotism is the act of supporting your Military at all costs- and your Government when they deserve it"

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous BBOSLAN said...

Freedom is hard won and easily taken. Why isn't there a vote by those who it will really affect, the citizens.
I don't think that the president, senate, congress FBI and CIA are looking at themselves. They will also be subject to search and seasure at a moments notice. Imagine that.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

Hey, guys. Can't figure out how to do a trackback, so I wanted to let you know I linked to your Patriot Act analysis. Michael.

At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Karl Rohlin said...

I agree with the previous statements. This administration has taken away what is left of our constitutional rights by using very American sounding names (Patriot) and Fear. They used this same format to get reelected (Fear and Lies). Now that the truth is coming out and those who disagree with this administration no longer have to fear being branded as a traitor or unpatriotic just because they question what they are being told by those in power. Now is the time to demand that all of those politicians that cowered and gave into this Unpatriotic Act for fear of political suicide give us back our Freedom. Find your spine and do what's right.
To leave the Patriot Act as it is will only leave the door open for other people to do far worse things when they are in office. A man like Hitler would have absolute power as soon as he got in office and a constitution that allowed him to do anything he wanted. Hitler ran for office under the Peoples Party (doesn't that sound American). Don't think for a second that it couldn't happen here. It has already started. If you were afraid to stand up and speak out against this administration after 9/11, then you know in your heart that I'm right. Don't be the cowering sheep who thinks that he or she is safe because you are near the center of the flock. In this country today we are all sheep and tax dollars on the hoof, and none of us are safe. Stand and shout for change, before it is too late. Absolute power corrupts absolutely!
And absolute power only happens when it is allowed to. Take back what is ours by birth.

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

""One day things will change. The pendulum will swing back to center, and slowly to the left. And we will hopefully have the chance to correct these attacks to the great people of America.""

They sure will, just like in April 1775 , its called a revolutionary war. When the populous looses all control of their freedom by the government, they will rise against the government and overthrow it.

Will we get it right a second time around though?

At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patriotism has nothing to do with supposrting the military or your government.....

Patriotism is a great love of one's country that includes connections to the land and its people, in addition to its customs and traditions, pride in its history, and devotion to its welfare.

"Devotion to its welfare" is the strongest part of being a patriot.

Our fore-fathers from the Revolutionary war were patriots. They overthrew the yoke of oppressing tyranny because of their devotion to the welfare of their coutry as a whole.

The bastardization of our government is not being done by patriots, the people all have agendas, and they are built on greed and power. Not much unlike the "royalty" of the 18th century.

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One day things will change. The pendulum will swing back to center, and slowly to the left. And we will hopefully have the chance to correct these attacks to the great people of America."

Undoubtedly so, and it may not take a revolution, but some of us are selfish enough to want to see these changes with our own eyes.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger some horrible person said...

My mom was unable to order coffee beans from Canada because they were considered "bioterrorism" under the Patriot Act. Yep, they are most definatly a threat to our nation.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Ben Franklin

At 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the gov't kicks in my door for no reason I'll say,"The Patriot Act should be abolished." Until then, let them kick in any door they just might save your life!

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, I agree with you all and I as a Polish emigrant have seen what happens when government takes too much power. Do not ever think it will not happen to you as history teaches us otherwise. ALWAYS QUESTION YOUR GOVERNMENT ALWAYS!!! You have a right to answers! I think citizens of this country and any country for that matter should have more word on changes that will ultimately affect their every day life. So who’s your daddy…don’t be it your government. “I would rather die standing up, then live life on my knees” – guess who said that. Long live FREE America and the world.

At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Mike F in N. Ireland said...

to Anonymous at 6.02 .. after you have had your door kicked in , a loaded rifle jammed in you face and a jack-boot in your groin from a government backed soldier who has the right to shoot you and needs give no explanation why .. then repeat your acceptance of the right to infringement of civil liberty

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Gary, Florida said...

The name Patriot Act is actually a misuse of the word 'Patriot'. If we do without the judicial process and disobey the 4th ammendment, than you might as well call it the Gestapo Act.

At 6:46 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

Good Grief......
Gone fishing

At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Karl Jackson said...

There is no "War On Terror". This is an open-ended "War On Whatever", and the Constitution is being slowly scrapped to set this nation up for a Police State and a "benevolent" dictatorship.
This all started with 9/11, an act of terrorism that has produced more secrecy, stonewalling and cover-up than any other event in this nation's history. Why did WTC7, a 47 story building, collapse that afternoon? Never in history, before or since 9/11, has a steel framed high-rise collapsed from fire. Building 7 had small fires on two floors, and wasn't hit by an airliner.
Why is Cynthia McKinney (R - Georgia) being stonewalled on her requests for information from General Myers and Donald Rumsfeld about the live-fly military exercises that took place that morning in the Northeastern sector? Why isn't the media discussing them?
It's time for America to not only start asking the hard questions about the administration's "19 Muslims with boxcutters" conspiracy theory, but to start demanding answers.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Sonny said...

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism - Thomas Jefferson.

Those of you who believe that questioning the government is wrong have no clue about the values this nation founded on.


At 2:02 PM, Blogger ChrisJ said...

Alan, I have taken your advice from the DSM blog and I am thoroughly enjoying the dialog. I am glad that you agree with the problems of the Patriot Act and hopefully Congress will take a more detailed and less hurried approach to this Act.

Koodos to the leftist link, great blog and more sensible take on the current administration's policies.

Also, "GREAT" comments on the loss of liberty and freedoms, couldn't have said it better, freedom is what we brag and pride ourselves in, we cannot lose that.

"engagement of the mind is safer than engagement of arms"


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