Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Non-Patriotic Patriot Act

Why did the Republicans call it the Patriot Act? What is patriotic about removing constitutional rights from law-abiding citizens? What is patriotic about a law that does not pass constitutional muster, as the Supreme Court decided in 2004? Even after modifying the Patriot Act in 2005, why did not the Republican-controlled Congress make it conform to the constitution?

After all this time I finally read that a federal judge ruled parts of the revised Patriot Act unconstitutional:

A federal judge struck down parts of the revised USA Patriot Act on Thursday, saying investigators must have a court's approval before they can order Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers."

The ACLU brought the case because the law allowed the FBI to demand records from Internet providers without getting a court order first. Hurray for the ACLU!

Now that parts of the Patriot Act have been found unconstitutional, how long will it take for Congress to revise it again? I hope that now that Congress is under control of Democrats, the revision will take place as soon as possible - without discussion with the undependable Bush Administration.

They may even want to change the name of the non-patriotic Patriot Act to the Checks-and-Balances Act.

Posted by Paul Siegel at September 6, 2007 4:51 PM
Comment #232011

A few years to late Paul sorry. Most of your democrats voted to pass it originally and many voted to reauthorize it.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at September 6, 2007 5:01 PM
Comment #232016

Ironic that the only presidential candidate who can really be counted on to oppose the act completely is a Republican(Paul).

Posted by: Irony at September 6, 2007 5:14 PM
Comment #232019

Hey Irony, did FOX do a poll after the debate? As far as I can tell they didn’t, but judging by the blog entries, Paul won again.

Good article, Paul. Hurray for the ACLU!

Posted by: American Pundit at September 6, 2007 5:20 PM
Comment #232035

Patriot Definition: established by forefathers, fr. ? father. See Father.] One who loves his country, and zealously supports its authority and interests.

One can divide Americans into two camps regarding patriotism. Those who love their country but question authority (Many Democrats and most Independents), and those who love their country and respect authority without question (many to most Republicans).

The Patriot Act is NOT a Patriotic Act by definition because it altered the laws and Constitution of our country making NOT of our forefathers. In fact, in many respects, it is diametrically opposed to what the founding fathers contemplated in the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.

Most Democrats and many Independents knowledgeable about the Patriot Act revile at its deference to the authority of the Executive Branch without checks and balances or oversight as implemented by the Bush administration by the other branches of government.

The Patriot Act can only be defended as GONZO defended it, under the perverse and unconstitutional Unitary Executive theory which posits that the President has the authority over all aspects of governance and may not be hampered or interfered with by the Congress or Judiciary in executing its authority.

Republicans love authority, and as we speak, their analysts and pundits actively seek a presidential candidate who can and will take control of this country and “Right” it, (double entendre’ intentional). They are attracted to strong authority figures who will take charge for them. Thus, it is no surprise that Republicans if they understood the Unitary Executive misinterpretation of the Constitution would be all for it.

In many ways and many places, the 2008 elections will be determined, not by Democrats or Republicans (except predominant blue or red districts), but by independent voters. Where do independent voters stand on this authority question. By and large they question it.

Therefore, 2008, for better or worse, is going to be a banner year for Democrats taking control of the White House, the Congress, and perhaps in less than 4 years, the Supreme Court. Which raises another Constitutional issue.

Our Constitution was written and ratified BEFORE the coming of political parties, hence, it did not contemplate nor address government rule by a single political philosophy or ideology. Instead, the drafters contemplated rule by an amalgam of many political philosophies and ideologies forced into debate and compromise by the representatives elected to represent those differing views.

Democrats would do well to exercise their one party rule with deference to fiscal responsibility, respect for Constitutional constraints, and homage to strengthening families and family ties. If they follow this prescription, they can easily prevent the pendulum from a very short arc in their favor and an abrupt about face in direction.

Democrats should select the Congressional and Presidential candidates very carefully in this light. Acquiring power is far easier than holding it. Voters would do well to remember this in voting booth.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 6, 2007 8:09 PM
Comment #232043
One can divide Americans into two camps regarding patriotism. Those who love their country but question authority (Many Democrats and most Independents), and those who love their country and respect authority without question (many to most Republicans).

Following authority blindly isn’t “respect”, it’s stupidity of the highestorder…

Posted by: Rachel at September 6, 2007 9:24 PM
Comment #232044

Irony: Ummm your forgetting Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich has stood against Patriot.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at September 6, 2007 9:27 PM
Comment #232056

Remember that the bill was origionally voted was not the bill that was presented to Congress. Even worse everyone in Congress did not even read the full origional version. We have the White House and Department of Justice to thank for playing games in the version that was passed and telling everybody that only unpatriotic people would dare question their motivies. The people of our Country believed this retoric. We now know that the White House has been telling whoppers of lies from day one.

Posted by: C.T. Rich at September 6, 2007 10:44 PM
Comment #232057

ps: When did either the rule of law nor the Constitution matter to Bush and Company.

Posted by: C.T. Rich at September 6, 2007 10:45 PM
Comment #232067

Kerry bragged that he helped write part of PATRIOT
Alexander Cockburn, “Zombies for Kerry,” The Nation 279 (7) (September, 2004.)

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at September 7, 2007 12:02 AM
Comment #232073
Kerry bragged that he helped write part of PATRIOT

Perhaps it matters which parts. Do you know? It would be interesting.

Posted by: womanmarine at September 7, 2007 12:29 AM
Comment #232075

Paul beat me to the punch… I was just about to write an article on this very topic when I thought to check here first! Anyway…

An obvious victory for any truly patriotic American. The term ‘patriotism’ has come to mean completely the wrong thing, and it is high time we take the word back…

I’m about 53/47 in favor of the ACLU in general, they do a lot of great things, and some that make me scratch my head… overall, they help look out for basic American liberties… And they hit the nail on the head here.

How this law got enacted, as-was, in the first place is beyond me (yes yes yes… I know all about the post-9/11 sentiment). Gradually, piece by piece, this truly un-American piece of legislation is being withered away.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 7, 2007 12:57 AM
Comment #232086

What I find hilarious is that most of the abuses of the Patriot Act are expansions of previous laws that Democrats voted for, only directed at (suspected) Drug Dealers and (suspected) Child Molesters. Now it includes (suspected) terrorists.

It’s right or it’s wrong, not because of who is in power at the time but in the way it overrides the rights of the minority or the individual. The Democrats have long demonstrated they are no better or worse than the Republicans in this regard.

So, Paul, what parts of the Act do you think are unconstitutional and which ones aren’t? Is allowing wiretapping of phones based on person instead of phone number unconstitutional?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 7, 2007 4:05 AM
Comment #232088
Perhaps it matters which parts. Do you know? It would be interesting.

I’m trying to find the specific part, but this should help point in the right direction if I fall asleep before I find it…

From Kerry’s Shifting Stands

Take the Patriot Act. Kerry condemns it fiercely as the stuff of a “knock-in-the-night” police state. He vows “to end the era of John Ashcroft” by “replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time.”

So does that mean he voted against it in 2001? Au contraire! Kerry voted for the law — parts of which he originally wrote. He singled out its money-laundering sections for particular praise but declared that he was “pleased at the compromise we have reached on the antiterrorism legislation as a whole.”

BTW, here is a great article on John Kerry’s Monstrous Record on Civil Liberties

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 7, 2007 4:14 AM
Comment #232089

Aha, I thought I remembered it being in that last article. The article ends with:

Meanwhile, Kerry continues to support intrusive efforts to stamp out money laundering. His campaign statement points out that Kerry “authored most of the money laundering provisions” in PATRIOT. Those provisions were largely based on an old money laundering bill that Kerry had introduced and which was opposed by economic conservatives and the ACLU. Kerry and other Democrats insisted that the money laundering provisions be attached to the PATRIOT Act. An October 2001 Associated Press article quoted Kerry as accusing Republicans of trying to remove the provisions “by fiat.” The article noted that Kerry “underlined the political influence of Texas bankers.”

The money laundering provisions, which became Title III of the PATRIOT Act, are some of the most privacy-threatening aspects of the bill. (See “Show Us Your Money,” November 2003.) They go beyond the “Know Your Customer” rules of the late 1990s, bringing real estate brokers, travel agents, auto dealers, and various other businesses under the rubric of “financial institutions” that must monitor their customers and file “suspicious activity reports” on deviations from customers’ normal patterns.

It was the Title III money laundering provisions that the FBI used in the much-criticized Operation G-String, an investigation of a strip club owner in Las Vegas accused of bribing local officials. The case had nothing to do with terrorism. Tellingly, Kerry—whose provisions allowed it to happen—has not cited this operation as one of Ashcroft’s abuses, even though other Democrats have.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 7, 2007 4:17 AM
Comment #232124


It’s common sense to have real estate, auto dealer, and travel agent companies monitor their customers patterns of behaviour to identify suspect behavior. In fact, it would be criminal not to do this. This is the same kind of predictive software all our credit card companies use to protect us from theft.

On the other hand, sending people to jail without a trial and torturing them indiscriminately is pretty out there. Stop pretending there’s any comparison between Democrats and Republicans on this.

Posted by: Max at September 7, 2007 10:35 AM
Comment #232138

This may be unrelated but possibly not. The Justice Dept. has sent it’s recomendations on the internet to the FCC. It is opposed to “net neutrality” and say’s that ISP’s should be allowed to charge for priority traffic. Perhaps a little pay to Verizon and AT&T for their cooperation with the Patriot Act.

Posted by: jlw at September 7, 2007 12:11 PM
Comment #232143

Max, which Republican has said they favor “sending American citizens to jail without a trial and torturing them indiscriminately?”

I’d really like to know so that I don’t unknowingly vote for somebody who supports such a thing.

Posted by: kctim at September 7, 2007 12:40 PM
Comment #232159


I’m against any spying on citizens without a warrant.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at September 7, 2007 1:47 PM
Comment #232177
It’s common sense to have real estate, auto dealer, and travel agent companies monitor their customers patterns of behaviour to identify suspect behavior.

Is it now? Wow, when did our private enterprise system become an agent of the government?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 7, 2007 3:15 PM
Comment #232183

There have long been anti-money laundering provisions that hold various financial institutions responsible for having common sense.
(Actually it is to make sure these institutions do not knowingly aid money laundering by being able to get away by providing a “nod and a wink” to their co-conspirators)
If their clients do things that any person knowledgeable in financial transactions would regard as “funny” — or if they are asked to do something unusual (transfer large sums of money to some “small business” in a 3rd world lets say)
They are expected to perform due dilagence in assuring that the transactions are legit.
If not they have a responsiblity to report these activities in order to NOT be considered a partner (co-conspirator??) in the crime, or attempt at the crime.

The private enterprize system utilizes the government, is regulated by the government, and is held responsible by the government for proper conduct of its business.
Otherwise you have the private enterprize system victimizing the consumers and the public at large — long history of that in this country.

Posted by: Russ at September 7, 2007 3:49 PM
Comment #232334

Russ, some Libertarians and many Republicans long for the good old days between 1890 and the stock market crash and depression following in 1929. Caveat Emptor and laissez faire were the calling cards of industrialist lobbyists of those days, just as they are of the Libertarians and Republicans of today.

Greed is the primary reason for existence in the corporate and large business world. To maximize profits is to take all measures possible of succeeding to eliminate competition and lower operating and labor costs to the barest minimum. The obviousness of this fact became fertile ground for unionization and collective bargaining, until the leaders of the unions themselves became corporations seeking the same objectives as corporations, eliminating competition and maximizing profits for union leaders and officers.

Government regulation has curbed much of the excesses of both corporations and unions, though not always in a timely enough fashion to prevent Enron’s and Adelphia’s and the UAW and USW from losing market share to foreign corporations.

In a graduate business course in 1987 I think it was, the professor said Japanese auto manufacturers would overtake General Motors one day precisely because GM operated almost exclusively on next year’s bottom line, while Japanese firms such as Toyota were focusing on their bottom line in foreign markets 15 and 20 years ahead.

Now, 20 years later, Toyota is poised to unseat GM as the largest auto manufacturer in the World, using a reputation for quality and longevity, competitive pricing, and anticipation of consumer needs and concerns years in advance as their tactical basis for growing market share. I very much regret having forgotten that professor’s name. He made sense to me, then, and makes even more sense to me today.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 9, 2007 1:25 AM
Comment #232340

David said:

“Greed is the primary reason for existence in the corporate and large business world.”

It is? I thought business was about producing something useful while turning a profit so that everyone gets rewarded. Some things can’t be produced without large amounts of capital. Personally, I work because I desire food and shelter, and a few luxuries. I also try to produce something of value at my corporation. Some people see it as effective capital management. I guess I’m evil because I don’t give it all away to the Catholic Church to spend on their legal woes over priests.

My Bad. I didn’t know capitalists were all bad and socialists were all good.

As I recall, even Adam Smith understood the need for regulation and fairness. I guess he was really evil and greedy.

I don’t disagree greed is a problem, but it ain’t just the corporations. I think sloth, wrath, gluttony,lust, pride and envy were also problems with some people. It seems like somebody listed these somewhere before once.

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at September 9, 2007 1:57 AM
Comment #232350


In the beginning, yes, corporations were created with the idea of producing a needed product/service and making money for you and your employees as well. Can you honestly say, though, that Enron wasn’t corrupted by greed? Can you honestly say that paying a CEO an eight-figure salary while cutting benefits for the average worker isn’t greed? Can you honestly say that energy companies making record profits off of the run-up of oil prices by gouging the consumers isn’t greed? As David said above, more than a few on the Right have a wet dream of returning to the Gilded Age, when the rich were so rich they calculated their worth based on how much of the GDP they personally controlled. If you don’t think this is a problem, or worse if you don’t see it happening right in front of you, you must be living in a different world from me.


Posted by: leatherankh at September 9, 2007 9:45 AM
Comment #232365

The concept that the pursuit of profit outweighs the pursuit of the common good is one that we are going to regret more and more as time goes on.

If you wish to create a health care system that seeks to maximize profits, do you put the emphasis on disease prevention or disease treatment?

If you wish to create a transportation system that weighs cost with effectiveness, do you create an electrical powered mass tranit system or one that has individualized, independently powered vehicles traveling on millions of miles of highways and bridges?

If your nation thinks that it would be bad if rogue nations such as Iran and Lybia were to manufacture nuclear weapons and it passed laws to prevent your corporation from selling products to bulid nuclear facilities, do you find ways to circumvent your countries laws to keep your profits flowing?

Posted by: jlw at September 9, 2007 3:29 PM
Comment #232399

Rhinehold- Voting against (BCCI Bank an other Banks) dealing in

Drug Money or other Illegal Activities or voting

for John Ashcroft’s Forfeiture Reform Act does

not give John Kerry a Monstrous Record. I am glad

that Government is looking after my funds, an I

really would not like any more S & Ls debacles.

Giving a Business or any entity an many tax

payers will cheat, given the chance won’t they!

Posted by: -DAVID- at September 10, 2007 1:15 AM
Comment #232498

jlw, that is the fundamental difference between for profit and non profit health care delivery. For profit makes money treating illness and injury, not preventing it. Non-profit makes money treating illness and injury and preventing it.

Preventive health care is maximized in a non-profit system. And consequently a nation’s health care tab is reduced, significantly. A non-profit health care system would have in and out patient smoking cessation clinics all across this land. Our for profit system has virtually NONE, except for the very wealthy!

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 10, 2007 9:48 PM
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