Patriot Act Shenanigans

  I have been opposed to the Patriot Act ever since its inception.  Here is just another news item to support that view.  Proponents of the Patriot Act would have you believe that it is only used for “safety” purposes and only targets suspicious behavior.  First of all, who gets to define what constitutes “suspicious” behavior?  How often have governments in the past abused their access to such private information regarding their citizens?  While not downplaying the threat of terrorism, I am much more likely by the order of many magnitudes to die in a car accident than as the result of a terrorist action.  I am inclined to agree with Franklin’s sentiments about those who are willing to give up freedom for security deserve neither.  Anyway, here are some highlights from the news story.

A member of the American Library Association has sued the Justice Department to challenge an FBI demand for records, but the USA Patriot Act prohibits the plaintiff from publicly disclosing its identity or other details of the dispute, according to court documents released Thursday.

  I have subscribed to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) newsletters for the last several years.  It seems that librarians are doing more to try to protect our fundamental privacies than the average citizen is.  This is not the first case of a librarian bucking the feds over an overly invasive search of a patron’s browsing records.  Gee, how convenient for the feds that we “merely” ordinary citizens can’t even know what the dispute is over.

Justice Department and FBI officials have repeatedly declined to identify how many times Patriot Act-related powers have been used to seek or obtain information from libraries, but they have strongly urged Congress not to limit their ability to do so.

  No doubt they do this because the results would show that overwhelmingly their “fishing” excursions are less than useful and further erode the original freedoms, privacies, and liberties that we used to enjoy.

The lawsuit, originally filed under seal in Connecticut on Aug. 9, focuses on the FBI’s use of a document called a “national security letter,” which allows investigators to demand records without the approval of a judge and to prohibit companies or institutions from disclosing the request. (emphasis mine) Restrictions on the FBI’s ability to use NSLs were loosened under the Patriot Act.

  Wow, they get to act as judge, jury, and executioner.  How fortuitous!  This is very similar to other provisions of the unPatriot Act where LEO can search your home and computer while you are not present and they don’t even have to notify you at the time.  “Fourth Amendment, what Fourth Amendment?”, chuckled George as the Patriot Act was made into law.  He was further heard to say, “Hell, I can’t even count past three- that damned Bill of Rights and Constitutional guarantees crap just confuses me.  It’s much easier just to ignore it.”

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said during Senate testimony in April that the Justice Department “has no interest in rummaging through the library records or medical records of Americans” but that “libraries should not become safe havens” for terrorists or other criminals.

Gonzales said at the time that the FBI had never asked for records under a provision of the Patriot Act known by critics as the “library provision,” which allows the government to demand records from a variety of businesses, including libraries, in intelligence probes.

But that provision is separate from the one that governs the kind of letter used in the Connecticut case.

  As he crossed his fingers behind his back.  What a bunch of lying thieves!  Well, hopefully, the neo-cons are on the wane and we will see the return of true conservatives who are interested in reining in Big Brother and protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals.

10 thoughts on “Patriot Act Shenanigans

  1. Ah, the good old Patriot Act, how I loathe it.

    It’s good to see someone standing up to it, however. I knew there had to be more to librarians than the big glasses and evil glares when you return a book late. Where would we be without librarians?

    Something tells me the Patriot Act won’t be going away too soon, not with things the way they are. Hopefully we can just chip away at it until our Fourth Amendment rights are in existence once more.

  2. It seems that librarians are doing more to try to protect our fundamental privacies than the average citizen is.  This is not the first case of a librarian bucking the feds over an overly invasive search of a patron’s browsing records.

    My own unscientific opinion on this is that librarians divide into two kinds: the one that would rather not even let you ENTER the library, because you could damage the books, or the kind that wants you give you the best access to everything (s)he has at hand – a bit related to the type of person who always lends out books and stuff to other people because they get a kick out of helping others and shwoing what fine literary treasures/goodies you have missed so far.

  3. Are you aware that the renewal of the “temporary” provisions of the Patriot Act would make these PERMANENT provisions? Congressman Dana Rorbacker, a conservative from California who voted for the original Act, has voted against the renewal for this reason. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. But, wait – – ins’t there something about laws that are unconstitutional not being laws at all? Well, then, it looks like we can just ignore the Patriot Act – – or can we? wink

  4. I have been scouring the net recently for information on our government, what it is up to, and why.

    Eventually, I have come to believe that the real political parties in our government are not the republican or democratic party at all.

    The reason I note that here is that I ended up deciding to use the patriot *cough slavery* act to determine who is affiliated with which party. To me, the only grouping that matters is a grouping by determining who supports our rights and who does not.

    I claim that anyone supporting the patriot act either (a) does not support our rights, (b) is too spineless to stand up for our rights, or (c) is too stupid (or ignorant) to realize that the patriot act is taking away our rights.

    That being said, here where one finds information to see who belongs to which party:
    US Senate Votes

    I found it harder to get information on how the house voted, but some is available here

    THE SENATE:
    rights party:
    Feingold (D-WI)

    Unknown:
    Landrieu (D-LA)

    no rights party:
    The other 98 members of the senate.

    THE HOUSE:
    Seems split…but I don’t have enough time at the moment to track down the division on their mess of a website.

    THE PRESIDENT:
    no rights party

    An ugly picture indeed.
    Anywise, just something to think about on how to use the patriot act for a good purpose…

  5. Oh, and yes, the senate info is from the first vote (2001), but it should be easy enough to see the numbers on the renewal of it…

  6. Latest Votes (making this permanent for the most part):
    House
    Looks like there are still a good amount of people in the House of Representatives that are for rights.

    Senate (news)
    Looks like there are now no people in the senate that are for rights. I could not dig up the actual vote from the senate pages this time, but if it was unanimous then it looks to be simply a matter of noting all senators are against rights.

    Anywise, enough links from me.

  7. So much for freedom and democracy
    Looks like the Bush admin has the Senate and most of the House in its pocket.  I wonder how long it will be until Canada passes its own “Patrot act”

  8. Librarians are in a particularly nasty position. It is a criminal offense for them to give away library records to anyone without a court order.

    But, wait – – ins’t there something about laws that are unconstitutional not being laws at all? Well, then, it looks like we can just ignore the Patriot Act – – or can we?

    It is illegal to kill people. It is illegal to drive while drunk. It is illegal to molest children. It is illegal for the current regime to incorporate a secret vote counting process. It is illegal for the Supreme Court to choose a president. But we still have to watch out for murderers, crazy drivers, child molesters, Diebold, and George Bush.

    Yes, any unconstitutional laws are null and void. If this gets sorted out in 20 years (history suggests not), they will let you out of prison, after just a few months of paperwork and hoops, and give you $20.

    Check definition of fascism:

    I don’t think anyone would disagree that the USA is a fascist government.

    -Bob

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