February 28, 2010
Obama waited until Saturday night to renew the Bill of Rights busting Patriot Act. It was set to expire today. Both the Senate and the House signed off on the extension last week. So called “privacy protections” were dumped when Senate Democrats failed to raise a 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Cast aside were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government’s authority to spy on Americans and seize their records, the Associated Press reports.
“The Obama administration wanted to extend the measure because of provisions it says are important in tracking suspected terrorists, including roving wiretaps to track multiple communications devices,” Reuters reported on Thursday.
“Disappointingly, the government’s dangerously broad authority to conduct roving wiretaps of unspecified or ‘John Doe’ targets, to secretly wiretap of persons without any connection to terrorists or spies under the so-called ‘lone wolf’ provision, and to secretly access a wide range of private business records without warrants under PATRIOT Section 215 were all renewed without any new checks and balances to prevent abuse,” Kevin Bankston wrote last week after the act sailed through Congress.
Instead of tracking terrorists, the bill has been used to track the American people. In 2008, for instance, the Justice Department made 763 requests for “sneak-and-peek” warrants, but only three of those had to do with terrorism investigations, according to senator Russ Feingold.
Feingold told a Senate Judiciary Committee in September of 2009 that 65 percent of the cases for which sneak-and-peek warrants were used were drug investigations.
The Patriot Act was not designed to be used against supposed terrorists. “It’s not meant for intelligence, it’s for criminal cases,” Assistant Attorney General David Kris told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So I guess it’s not surprising to me that it applies in drug cases.”
The Patriot Act allows the government to search and seize Americans’ papers and effects without probable cause to assist “terror” (drug and other victimless crime) investigations. It prevents a right to a speedy and public trial (ask American Jose Padilla about this one). It discourages freedom of association, freedom of speech (the government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation), and the right to legal representation (the government may monitor conversations between attorneys and clients in federal prisons and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes).
The act allows the government to abduct citizens and jail them without charge or the ability to confront witnesses against them. It allows the government to hold anybody deemed an “unlawful combatant” incommunicado forever. It effectively turns America into East Germany or Stalin’s Russia.
Democrats and moonstruck liberals should be held directly responsible for turning American into a police state. After all, they bought into Obama’s “yes we can” mantra and packed Congress with Democrats who voted last week to extend the Patriot Act.
They should have voted for Ron Paul.