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The Patriot Act: Fix It, Don't Kill It

Senate Republicans have been demonstrating just how they really feel about national security and civil liberties lately. Either they have it their way, or no way at all.

Provisions of the Patriot Act involving powers granted to law enforcement agencies to gain secret access to personal data, including library and medical records, and to conduct roving wiretaps are set to expire on December 31. Senate Democrats are using a filibuster to block renewal because of the lack of civil liberty safeguards. Democrats have proposed a 3 month extension of the existing law to allow time to work out the civil liberty concerns. Republicans have rejected this proposal flat out and would rather see the Patriot Act die.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee said "Those on the Senate floor who are filibustering the Patriot Act are killing the Patriot Act."

That makes no sense. The Republican controlled Senate is killing this act by not allowing the three month extension for time to address the Constitutional concerns.

“The president will not sign such an extension,” said Frist.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said "The president says he wants to fight the terrorists, but his political stunt with the Patriot Act suggests he's more interested in scoring political points." He said a majority of the Senate would back a temporary extension if Republican leaders allowed a vote on it. Why then are Senate Republican leaders and Bush trying to block an extension? Because they can score more political points by letting the Act die and blaming it on the Democrat's filibuster.

Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis. said “We can come together to give the government the tools it needs to fight terrorism and protect the rights and freedoms of innocent citizens.”

Sen. John Sununu, R-New Hampshire agreed “We need to be more vigilant,” He quoted Benjamin Franklin: “Those that would give up essential liberty in pursuit of a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.”

“Today’s revelation makes it crystal clear that we have to be very careful, very careful,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, referring to the Bush authorized spying on Americans.

These actions show exactly where each party stands when it comes to national security and civil liberties. Senate Democrats want to come up with a Patriot Act that is both strong on national security and protects civil liberties. Senate Republicans have put potential political gain above national security and the Constitution.

Frist said "Why leadership on the other side would celebrate killing the Patriot Act, I don't understand it."

What I don't understand is why Republican leaders will not allow a three month extension of the current Patriot Act. Why are they not willing to work with the Democrats to come up with an Act that is strong on terrorism, while upholding the Constitution? Why would they rather let the Patriot Act die?

Posted by JayJay Snow at December 21, 2005 12:56 AM
Comments
Comment #105245

What I want to know is how the Patriot Act allows Bushie to spy on Americans without Judicial Oversight.

Posted by: Aldous at December 21, 2005 3:29 AM
Comment #105310

Aldous,

Same way Bubba did. Thats how.

Posted by: Thomas at December 21, 2005 6:17 AM
Comment #105321

Bush didn’t spy on “Americans” w/out Judicial review; he spied on “Terrorists” w/out judicial review. This was not a domestic issue, it was spying on Al Qaeda overseas.

And, “Bubba” certainly wouldn’t have approved of the Patriot Act (at least not all of it); however, he did spy on white supremacists after the Okalahoma bombings. Now, I have no problem with our president spying on terrorists and people that want to harm us; and that’s what Bush and Clinton did and they should be applauded by fellow Americans.

Posted by: rahdigly at December 21, 2005 7:00 AM
Comment #105343

Thomas,

You’re buying into right-wing spin. Clinton authorized spying on Americans within the law. Bush authorized it against the law.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 21, 2005 7:39 AM
Comment #105376

‘Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls’

“A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.

The officials say the National Security Agency’s interception of a small number of communications between people within the United States was apparently accidental, and was caused by technical glitches at the National Security Agency in determining whether a communication was in fact “international.”

Telecommunications experts say the issue points up troubling logistical questions about the program. At a time when communications networks are increasingly globalized, it is sometimes difficult even for the N.S.A. to determine whether someone is inside or outside the United States when making a cellphone call or sending an e-mail message. As a result, people that the security agency may think are outside the United States are actually on American soil. ….”


“…..
Eavesdropping on communications between two people who are both inside the United States is prohibited under Mr. Bush’s order allowing some domestic surveillance.

From:
‘Bush approved spying on Americans: NYT’
“PRAISE: Government officials credited the new program with uncovering several terrorist plots, including one by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting Al Qaeda by planning to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, the report said.”



Posted by: dawn at December 21, 2005 8:39 AM
Comment #105380

So the Democrats get an extention. Then what? Do they truely try to fix it or do they turn it into a political football? I’m betting on the latter.
Anyway I thought yaall didn’t like the Patriot Act. So why all the concern about extending it?
But I guess senses yaall found out how easy it is to spy on those that disagree with you, yaall like it now.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 21, 2005 8:44 AM
Comment #105384

What I don’t get…

Didn’t they get the memo that this vote was coming up?

Posted by: dawn at December 21, 2005 8:51 AM
Comment #105385

To Bush supporters,

When did checks and balances become the enemy of the Republican party?

We should be fearful of terrorists but not at the expense of our Democratic system.
We need to protect our nation from terror attacks and our civil liberties from attack by this administration.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 21, 2005 8:52 AM
Comment #105406

to separate this issue from recent news that the feds and military are investigating animal rights groups and peace activists and the Patriot Act provisions (which apparently Frist and other Republicans just can’t live without) that allow secret review of medical and library records is unconscionably shortsighted. Wake up and smell big brother, ‘cause he just set up camp in your bedroom.

Posted by: macsonix at December 21, 2005 9:17 AM
Comment #105449

Wrong, wrong, wrong!!!

Kill it!

Posted by: Steve Snyder at December 21, 2005 10:27 AM
Comment #105491
Bush didn’t spy on “Americans” w/out Judicial review; he spied on “Terrorists” w/out judicial review. This was not a domestic issue, it was spying on Al Qaeda overseas.

rahdigly,

How do you know this? Because Bush said so? There is no warrant to document who and why the spying was happening. Without that documentation there is no way to know for sure who the President was spying on. It was recently reported that they were spying on Domestic interest groups.

One of the Judges from the FISA court has now resigned over this, apparently in protest.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 21, 2005 11:48 AM
Comment #105504

“How do you know this? Because Bush said so?”

No, we already know Bush is guilty until proven innocent, he’s a Republican.

“There is no warrant to document who and why the spying was happening. Without that documentation there is no way to know for sure who the President was spying on”

Or was NOT spying on.
Would it be best to wait for some facts or should we just jump to conclusions and assume that Bush is trying to take over the world and make us all slaves?

Questioning is fine. Convicting without knowing any of the facts is just being partisan.

Posted by: kctim at December 21, 2005 12:10 PM
Comment #105506

I don’t think we should give up any civil liberties for limited securities. It’s too dificult to get them back.

Posted by: Carlos Benavides at December 21, 2005 12:11 PM
Comment #105516

Let the Patriot Act die.

If there are any useful portions of it (I seem to remember some things about streamlining communications between intelligence agencies) then enact them separately. Otherwise, it should all die. I don’t care how “important” Bush or his cronies think this stuff is, its all just part of a steady erosion of our civil liberties that has gone on under presidents of BOTH parties, under legislatures of BOTH parties, since the Warren Court decisions that finally gave the liberties our founding fathers required back to us.

What’s wrong with the Patriot Act, you may ask? ANY TIME warrantless searches are enacted without both probable cause and exigent circumstances, the United States of America dies a little bit. I am sickened by people, conservatives especially but liberals are not blameless, who claim that these horribly intrusive and Orwellian provisions are ok as long as its against our enemies. Well, I hate to break it to you, but there will always be an enemy of every nation on earth and it will often include you and I. Let us not forget what happened during Fascist Germany, where every group was in turn scapegoated, attacked, and made to suffer: starting with the Jews, Communists, and even gays within the Nazi party leadership, moving on to the Catholics, trade unions, and gypsies, and finally even the Protestant leadership. History makes it clear that once powers like these are surrendered to the government they can NEVER be retaken without bloodshed, and since when has a government really been willing to give up its powers. Ha!

The worst part about this is that the first round of criticism of the Patriot Act by the inept Democratic leadership was met by soothing arguments by Bush, stating that it would only be for the duration of the emergency and war. Uh, is it just me, or is this war shaping up to be kind of a permanent thing along the lines of the forty years of cold war? The Patriot Act must, as far as it allows for any abrogation of existing search & seizure doctrine, die the death that any tyranny must sooner or later face. Let us make it sooner, so it does not become part of a tyrannical machine that millions will die under in a generation.

Posted by: Libertyman13 at December 21, 2005 12:45 PM
Comment #105608

Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! Kill it! posted by: Steve Snyder
Right right right, the current administration has proved their incompetence beyond any doubt. Torture, secret jails, domestic spying, and they’re proud of it all, because that’s just the kind of people they are.
I don’t think we should give up any civil liberties for limited securities. It’s too dificult to get them back. Posted by: Carlos Benavides
Yes, and no security is really provided, it’s only something that is claimed by sources that are not impartial.
Let the Patriot Act die…. Bush, stating that it would only be for the duration of the emergency and war.., Posted by: Libertyman13
The emergency and war that Bush is talking about is the “war on terror”, not the war in Iraq, and it is the new cold war, and will last forever, or until we go broke.

Posted by: ray at December 21, 2005 3:25 PM
Comment #105683

rahdigly and others who FEAR being killed by bogeyman *terrorists* and other evil creatures that lurk in the dark: Good god, man, have you truly fallen for the “War on Terror” propaganda line? If you did your homework, you would KNOW that there has ALWAYS been “terror” in the world; that al Qaeda is more a figment of the neocon-Zionist propaganda machine than a reality, useful for frightening cowering Americans into giving up their rights and liberties so they can go on with their nefarious plans of globalization and domination; Islamic-fundamentalists have been assisted and allowed to expand for the sole purpose of filling the “bogeyman” role; the TRUE purpose of the Patriot Act was to do just what Bush has admitted to doing—albeit without proper authority, which he could well have done within the law which allows for retroactive wiretap authorization—and that is spying on American citizens who oppose his policies and the war. Washington Post reports that using PATRIOT Act provisions, despite wild exaggerations made by President Bush, the government has actually only convicted a handful of people for terrorism related activities.

Most of the total number of PATRIOT Act cases (81 percent) that concluded with conviction are immigration-related cases. Most of the 39 actual *terrorist* cases were not serious enough to warrant a prison term of more than 11 months.

Such cases could have been successfully prosecuted under pre-PATRIOT Act conditions, prompting civil liberties organization to insist that security need not come at the expense of rolling back Constitutionally protected civil rights and liberties.

In 153 cases where “sneak and peek” has been used as of January, 90 percent of them were ordinary criminal investigations unrelated to terrorism.”

If this, along with reports of the illegal spying on political enemies, isn’t enough to warrant killing the Patriot Act, then what will it take? How does anyone know there aren’t more American citizens being held secretly in hidden prisons? With a president that believes the Constitution is “just a goddamned piece of paper!”, will it finally take the imprisonment of friends & family members before Americans wake up to the reality of just how far into the abyss we’ve fallen?

The propaganda tells us this is just GOP vs Democrats, conservatives vs liberals. It’s not! It’s the Powerful vs peon/plebs, Wealth vs lower-class. Welcome to Bush’s NEW AMERICA! Our irrational *FEAR* helped make it happen…


Posted by: Carri at December 21, 2005 5:19 PM
Comment #105696

al Qaeda is more a figment of the neocon-Zionist propaganda machine OY GEVALT! That made reading the rest of your post very difficult, but I read it all. We have all the laws we need to prosecute suspected terrorists without the patriot act. Bush probably doesn’t recognize that laws that were enacted, before he came to power, have any force. From Deadwood:Before you know it, we’ll have laws here and every other f*cking thing. Have a good Kratzmer.

Posted by: ray at December 21, 2005 5:39 PM
Comment #105738

I think that the resolution of this spying case, whether political, judicial, or both, is really going to be a turning point for our country. If the rule of law and the constitution prevail, we will ultimately retain a security that is much more real than the “safety” the bushies are trying to sell us.
If the bushies get their way, an irretrievable commodity will have been lost. What an irony that something so precious, so dear, could just sort of dry up and blow away if people don’t stand up and fight. On the one hand you had people fighting and dying for the chance to live unmolested by unchecked power. On the other hand you have those wonderful freedoms just…..gone on the say-so of those who would take them from us-without a fight. They only believe in checks if the checks are their own.
A couple of days ago I made reference to nazi germany and the erosion of freedoms there in the name of security. We are now just one small misstep from losing major fourth amendment rights.
Libertyman has it right. Liberties that our forefathers fought and died for, once lost will have to be fought for again. This for me is unthinkable. The only alternative is not to lose them now.
All my life I have had the confidence to speak my mind, however foolish, misinformed, self-righteous etc. that thought has been. As much as I love my country, I am not feeling that same sense of security where my speech is concerned.
Jimmy Cliff said it well:
“I’d rather be a free man in my grave
than living as a puppet or a slave”

Give me liberty, or give me death

Posted by: Steve Miller at December 21, 2005 7:04 PM
Comment #105743

>>Convicting without knowing any of the facts is just being partisan

Yeah…partisan…yeah…like you’re not partisan? I can’t convict Dubbya, but I can look at all there is to know at this time and form an educated opinion. Duh! I wonder what my opinion might be…since I’m partisan…I wonder what your opinion might be since you’re not partisan…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 21, 2005 7:16 PM
Comment #105745

My bad…the snide remarks about partisanship were aimed at kctim…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 21, 2005 7:24 PM
Comment #105780

Dude
“Yeah…partisan…yeah…like you’re not partisan?”

Not really, I vote for the best candidate.
Have I stated that I am pro or con when it comes to the Patriot Act? Nope.
Have I stated that I favor wiretaps without warrants? Nope.
I simply said that people should know the facts before calling for someones head.
I said it is not right or fair to convict somebody because of an assumption or because of their political party.

If believing one is innocent until PROVEN guilty is being partisan, then yeah, I’m partisan.

Posted by: kctim at December 21, 2005 10:22 PM
Comment #105845

kctim,

>>Not really, I vote for the best candidate

Sorry, I did not know I was posting to such a saint. By the way when was the last time you voted blue?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 22, 2005 6:03 AM
Comment #105893

Dude
Hardly a saint.
In 04, I voted for 2 Democrats, not liberals.
Funny thing though, I get accused of being a partisan Republican all the time on here, but yet, Bush never got a checkmark from me.
It is possible to disagree with someone but still give them the benefit of the doubt until all the facts are in.

Under the ACSP post, Burt says evidence is getting out and that there may be investigations and I have no problem with that. That is how the system is supposed to work.
When the FACTS are known, I will make my call.

Posted by: kctim at December 22, 2005 9:59 AM
Comment #106065

Snowman, this was a good article and thread. I kind of overlooked it yesterday, but now I’d like say that I thought that
Andre, macsonix, Steve Snyder, Carlos, Libertyman, ray, and carri have all made excellent points.

I’m of the opinion that the Patriot Act(s) should die on principle alone.
Why? Because these are seriously flawed pieces of legislation. The first was rushed through immediately in the aftermath of 9/11 when practically no one in Congress had even read it. Yet, they voted on it and passed it despite the fact that there were unconstitutional provisions within the Act that were never even discussed.
That is NOT the kind of thing that Americans should accept from our Congress. What we should expect is for them to have discussed the new security issues thoroughly and painstakingly in a bi-partisan fashion. We should expect that during such a process they would be asking their constituents for input, and as citizens we should be freely volunteering our thoughts on these kind of issues.
No one in govt. should be allowed to make an end-run around our constitutional rights. The words “safety and security” are no excuse and will never be an excuse because the world always has been, and always will be, full of dangers. Despite whatever new challenges we may face, We the People must hold to our founding principles, or risk losing the meaning inherent to our form of govt.
Our Constitutional rights should NEVER be abridged in any way shape or form — unless amendments are presented and we are all allowed to vote on them.
The parts of the Patriot Act that were well thought out and not unconstitutional should be incorporated into the new Act that results from Congressional discussions and debates, and from our input, and from any amendments that are brought forward and voted upon. Then it should be given a whole new name — if only to reflect the fact that there was little that was patriotic or American about the way they went about ennacting the legislation that went by the old name.
Just my opinions.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 22, 2005 1:38 PM
Comment #106244

absolutely! you just summed up my feelings about the sitting government as a whole ever since 9/11, which you can pretty much back up to the 2000 elections…Dems and Reps alike, they’ve all pretty much done a shoddy job if you ask me. They’ve voted themselves raises while signing the damn Patriot Act without even reading it. WHY in the name of Pete do you deserve a raise when it is your job to inform yourself of important legislation but then show up to vote when you don’t know what it is or calls for??? They were all too eager to blame the system for 9/11 and accept no personal responsibility. And now they are all too eager to blame the system for Iraq, the fatalities, the reasons for going, Plamegate, corporate malfeasance, the health care mess, record deficits, environmental disasters, widespread corruption, investigations, indictments, etc….WHAT A MESS! CAN THESE PEOPLE GET ANYTHING RIGHT??? They’ve chosen to use some of the most important issues as political footballs - from military pay to veteran’s benefits to student aid to private property rights to child support, nothing is sacred anymore, it can all be subjected to the whims of special interests via some sneaky amendment tacked on at the last minute… so that you can’t vote against a 3 million dollar study of the psychological effects of metallic paint unless you vote against the whole bill, which is actually about funding veterans’ death benefits.

The whole process has been bastardized and twisted into an unrecognizable snafu. And it’s time we figured out how to streamline it, because I don’t think any of the usual participants are too hip on the idea of an overhaul.

Posted by: macsonix at December 22, 2005 5:36 PM
Comment #106252

kctim,

>>Funny thing though, I get accused of being a partisan Republican all the time on here

It’s because you sound like one. Proof is for a court of law, judges, peers, etc., but there is enough evidence out there for folks to form an opinion. FISA should have been notified either before or after the taps. They were not. That is enough for me to form an opinion. If I were selected to jury duty on the case, I would require irrefutable evidence…

Posted by: Marysdude at December 22, 2005 6:04 PM
Comment #106262

kctim

It is possible to disagree with someone but still give them the benefit of the doubt until all the facts are in.

Not if that person is a Republican. Then it’s guilty even if/when proven innocent.
I’m like you though, I’ll wait until all the facts are in before making a judgement. And I don’t care what party the person belongs to.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 22, 2005 6:40 PM
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