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Congress set to vote on Patriot Act extension this week

By DOUG THOMPSON
May 24, 2011

A New York City Police Department observation tower in Manhattan (AFP)

The Senate voted Monday to open debate on the rights-robbing USA Patriot Act — the Bush-era anti-terrorism law passed by a shell-shocked Congress in the days following the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

 

Critics of the act argue that it violates several sections of the Constitution by allowing the federal government to spy on Americans without oversight or review.

In a 74-8 vote, the Senate approved debate on the bill. A final vote on extending the law for four years is expected later this this week.

Extending the law represents another flip-flop by President Barack Obama, who criticized the law in his 2008 campaign for President, then backed a three-month temporary extension in February and now wants a longer extension, saying it is “crucial” for intelligence and law enforcement communities.

The original USA Patriot Act was written largely by John Ashcroft, then-attorney general under former President George W. Bush. Most members of Congress admitted they voted for the act without reading it or realizing its implications on freedoms once guaranteed by the Constitution.

The government has invoked the act to hold U.S. citizens without due process, track the movements and financial records of Americans and snoop into the private lives of anyone they wish.

The House of Representatives is also expected to vote on the extension later this week.

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11 Responses to Congress set to vote on Patriot Act extension this week

  1. WayneKDolik

    May 24, 2011 at 10:01 am

    The un-patriot act should have been trashed a long time ago. The loss of our constitutional rights due to the Cowards that call themselves leaders is un-american and unacceptable.

  2. Carl Nemo

    May 24, 2011 at 11:15 am

    The truth of the matter is that our Congress and Executive leadership is afraid of “We the People” and not terrorists. A continuation of this sorry-butt ‘anti-Constitutional’ legislation allows them to continue to trowel in the final bricks of a Homeland Security/TSA constructed internment camp from coast to coast.

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Sandune

      May 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Carl, you are absolutely right that our own government fears our individual freedoms to state that some things are simply wrong in our laws since 911. A large portion of Americans are simply pissed off with the security actions that keep the government involved in everything we try to do.

      America has been building groups of “hate America” all over parts of the USA. I spent my summers in the northern most part of Idaho where my mother';s brothers owned property on Priest Lake. I saw no minorities in this Paradise for golfers and wondered about the imbalance. Yep, I was right and many members of the groups now being investigated for terrorist plans are moving into the areas around that part of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. I guess the individual states do not have the money or time to weed out these folks. .

      Many of these groups meet secretly and are armed which is perfectly legal and they can and do use a form of terrorism in their words. The churches have been doing this for years.

      Can we trust our government to repeat their approving of a law that they have not even read? We do have control over our representatives but do we care enough to throw their sorry butts out of office?

      • DejaVuAllOver

        May 26, 2011 at 1:28 am

        Sandune, I live in Montana for a large portion of the year. Been here for about 12 years. Grew up on the East Coast, lived on the West coast for 15 years and what I can tell you is this: The western form of the GOP is more like libertarianism: LEAVE ME THE EFF ALONE, PERIOD. People here really don’t hate minorities….. they’re more like a curiously, because they’ve never SEEN any before. Have a black friend here who is treated like a celebrity, kind of God -Like. People here are really kind of open minded, sort of, just as long as there ain’t too many to kick yer ass in a barroom brawl if you mouth off too much. And their kind of innocence is really quite charming, in a funny kind of way. They are proud of spotting phonies and liars a mile away. And, I will say, they aren’t as backward as many believe nor are they afraid to confront what they see as a scoundrel. On the other hand, I knew a kid, probably 21 or 22, who I saw almost every morning at McDonalds who served me my daily fix of caffeine. One day he didn’t show up to work. Last seen in a local bar, talking politics, I’m told. Found him floating in a river…… no suspects. Truthfully, I think he was so arrogant and loudmouthed that he would have had trouble in NJ, but anyway, people here are no different, maybe just a little less scared and more used to taking matters into their own hands. People here are not anti Muslim, either. They’re anti asshole, whether they’re Muslim, Jewish, Christian or just plain agnostic jerks. (I think the kid in question was Jewish, BTW, but I’m not certain.) No big point here, other than to say I think you may be making some hasty judgments, particularly if you don’t live here year -round or infrequently.

  3. freecitizen

    May 24, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Despite what all these hypocrites in the white house and congress say, they actually hate our freedoms! Now, where have I heard that before?!?

  4. Lillibet

    May 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    My love for the Constitution knows no bounds, and I’ve been mourning its demise for almost a decade. It is the single document that, for the first time in the formation of Western governments, turned the most traditional form of governance on its ear, giving to the people their proper control over government and unalienable rights. We may have nothing to fear but fear itself, but with proper checks and balances, properly administered, government must have fear of the people.

    That system of government was well and truly assassinated on September 11, 2001. The full burial took a few weeks longer, but by October, the illogically named Patriot Act put the “quaint” “piece of paper” formerly known as the Constitution 6 feet under. Our rights, it appears, were never all that inalienable to those bound by oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    I suppose we’ll have to live another four years without the Bill of Rights. We’ll also have to live indefinitely without Habeas Corpus, as that was done in by a military spending act that promised unending war against an undefined and unidentified enemy without any identifiable national roots, back in 2007.

    At one time, they might have “hated us for our freedoms,” but we showed them. We got rid of our freedoms, lock, stock and barrel. Now Congress is set to extend what those alleged terrorists could only have dreamed of doing. It does make one wonder precisely who, or what, we are to truly fear.

    Can this nation call itself a beacon of freedom in a land where freedom and security from the misdeeds of government is only the quaint memory of a quaint document?

  5. woody188

    May 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I thought Viet Dinh and Michael Chertoff were the principle authors of the USA PATRIOT Act?

    I remember thinking it was interesting two people not brought up with typical American values got to define so much control over all Americans. Viet Dinh was from Vietnam and Chertoff was a second generation Russian-American.

  6. bogofree

    May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    The Patriot Act is a (please loosen my bindings so I can key) wonderful act designed to (Yes….type A is my blood type) protect us all from dangers to our way (My dossier is that thick?) of life. As a true AMERICAN I just can’t imagine the problems you folks (No…no…not the gag!) hmmruph….choke….cough …..

  7. Sandune

    May 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    bogo, we have seen what the power of the federal government did to all of us with the war on drugs. There was a time when many of us were able to stop the assault on our personal freedoms when we got the congress to stop the issuing of I.D. cards with all our records encrypted on the card. After 911, the government realized the need for a data base based on every single citizen could be made if they played the terrorism card. Attorney General Ashcroft put together a plan to have all pharmacies send him a copy of anyone wanting the morning after pill. This Patriot act simply woke up the religious right into using this as a way of getting that data base done legally.

    With these fools in charge and after our individual freedoms and choices, it became necessary to get President Bush 43 out of office ASAP. I sincerely hope that the GOP has no chance at the white house until they change their agenda back to individual freedoms.

    Well, my blood type is O negative (wouldn’t you know it?)

  8. Lillibet

    May 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Sandune, I share your hope for someone, somewhere, with the power of a political party, to wake America to its decades of squandering our birthright. In case you have forgotten what that birthright is, read the Constitution. Read the Magna Carta (which expired in 2007, thanks to GW Bush), and read Jefferson on economic power and central banking.

    Those that control the courts control the country, just as those that control the money run the citizens.

    Those that control ones information that one holds to be personal, including the right to evaluate it or disseminate it, remove all sense of security in privacy. No one would hire an attorney if that attorney would hand over ever document regarding your income to the IRS at any time, without warning. Why do we want our government to have the right to simply swoop in and take that information without first asking why they want it? And yet, that is just one thing the Patriot Act allows.

    Sadly, I don’t hold much hope that either side of the present aisle will ever ‘get it” and protect people from the government, not the other way round. There are, at present, no checks and no balances. We have four more years of this, or two lifetimes in political timekeeping. It should be more than enough time to reclaim our birthright. The question is, will we ever get our rights back?

  9. DejaVuAllOver

    May 26, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Thanks, Doug, for being one of the few to imply what is obvious: that this “act” is an abomination and an assault on morality, decency, the teachings of Christ, Buddha and every decent human being before or since. That is, of course, with the exception of the zionists and their interns in Congress who are quite happy to enslave us any way they can.