Patriot Act Renewed

Congress of the United States has just renewed the Patriot Act, a hastily drawn re-write of our Federal laws enacted in 2001 after the events of “9/11.”

The renewal is with great reservations by many in Congress and a little modification of what was originally contained in the document (click on this link to read the original Patriot Act).

Back when originally enacted only one Senator voted against this document. Today that number has doubled to two, but a lot more Senators are having reservations about this act in light of the “domestic” spying that is being done in the name of “combating terrorism.”

The Patriot Act clearly specifies that government now has:

Sec. 201. Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism.
Sec. 202. Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses.

This is the foundation put forth by the U.S. Attorney General and President Bush to monitor any telephone or e-mail communication received in this country that is done with anyone remotely linked to terrorist organizations or activities.

It also includes.

Sec. 412. Mandatory detention of suspected terrorists; habeas corpus; judicial review.

In 2003 this was amended in such a manner that no reporting of who is detained need be given until such time as judicial proceedings begin, as reported by the New York Times Magazine on February 23, 2003: "An American citizen suspected of being part of a terrorist conspiracy could be held by investigators without anyone being notified. He could simply disappear."

In short this is what Kafka wrote about ages ago. In Kafka’s barely finished novel (published after his death) people were “whisked” off to the Castle never to return.

Today people are “whisked” off to Guantanamo Cuba and held in limbo by the military. Some have been there for years.

Some people feel this is a “good thing” to protect us from terrorism, however Saddam Hussein is now trial for doing the same thing in his country! He “whisked” off any opposition member suspected of terrorism against his regime, held them in limbo, authorized trials and then 148 of these people were executed.

This is not to say that President Bush would have Senator Kerry or Kennedy “whisked” off to Cuba, but we do remember that President Nixon’s staff “bugged” the Watergate facility of the Democrats, raided the offices of Daniel Ellsberg and did all sorts of other “dirty tricks” then hid behind “separation of powers” between the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches. There was no 9/11 back then! Of course President Nixon did resign in the face of impeachment.

With the Patriot Act in place President Bush will not be impeached. The U.S. Supreme Court (for which he just picked two new members) may take him to task (and don’t be surprised if those two new members don’t necessarily side with President Bush or the U.S. Attorney, although they may abstain).

There is still a big controversy over the Patriot Act and President Bush wants to see it made permanent law, while many members of Congress want to see some new changes to prevent abuses and retain freedoms.

One of the modest critics of the Act is the ACLU, who are not totally opposed to the concepts but are worried about some provisions. To read more on the ACLU position, click here!

One thing we all have to remember is that the FBI had information on suspected terrorists training to fly jumbo jets. People, who in some instances, didn’t even have a high school education and were not citizens and came from countries known to train terrorists. No one paid attention. The FBI and other government agencies obtained this information without the need of a Patriot Act. The problem was, no one listened and no one took action. The real problem with the Patriot Act is that it still has no provision to require or discipline those who take no action. So, we can “gather more intelligence” without “restrictions” but this is still no accountability on those in charge! Everyone agrees in hind sight that 9/11 could have been prevented or lessened or halted or at least delayed had the FBI taken affirmative action on the reports presented by field agents.

We don’t need better intelligence gathering. We need people who respond before disaster occurs.

No one responded to the pre-9/11 events. No one responded to the pre-Katrina events. We seem to want to do a lot of hindsight bad mouthing and ranting, but nothing mandates taking action before events occur.

The fact is, when police learn of a drug lab in operation they bust it once they have enough evidence.

The fact is, if the FBI had showed up at flight schools the “rats” would have scurried and while 9/11 may not have happened then, it might have been a new date in infamy, once the “rats” reassembled and regrouped.

Had action been taken then airlines and airports might have been more vigilant.

The Patriot Act does, indeed, make it easier to seize suspected terrorists than before, but you still got to go in and seize them and there is no provision mandating government action in the Act!

The Patriot Act also makes it easier to seize anyone of us for any reason. You buy too many rifles or too much dynamite you can be seized. Being a hunter with tree stumps to remove may not suffice, because under the Patriot Act you can never tell your story to a judge. The government can just “whisk” you off to Guantanamo and keep you there indefinitely. Your co-worker is a Muslim and they give you a ride home, the government can seize you to find out what you know about this person and keep you in limbo for as long as it wants to, while that Muslim friend goes free (until such a time as and if government want to seize them). That is a part of the Patriot Act, like it or not. This is why Congress and the ACLU is now worried about what we are going to keep as law forever...


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