T Nation

Debating the Patriot Act

I know some people think that the PATRIOT act was just some rabid power grab by John Ashcroft aimed solely at diminishing freedom in America – but others aren’t quite convinced of that. And the provisions are coming up for re-authorization soon.

Let’s see what people think.

The Justice Department has just released a 70-page defense of THe Patriot Act, which can be found here:

Also, Stuart Taylor of THe National Journal has a very interesting essay that argues the consensus is THe Patriot Act is good law:

http://nationaljournal.com/taylor.htm

OPENING ARGUMENT
PATRIOT Act Hysteria Meets Reality

By Stuart Taylor Jr., National Journal
? National Journal Group Inc.
Monday, April 18, 2005

“When the Bush administration says it wants to make permanent the freedom-stealing provisions of the PATRIOT Act ( http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=107_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ056.107 ), they’re telling those of us who believe in privacy, due process, and the right to dissent that it’s time to surrender our freedom.”

So screams the first sentence of a recent fundraising letter from the American Civil Liberties Union ( http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=15543&c=262 ). This and countless other overheated attacks – from conservative libertarians and gun-rights activists as well as liberal groups – have scared some 375 local governments and five states into passing anti-PATRIOT Act measures ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13970-2004Feb4.html ), while sending earnest librarians into a panic about Big Brother snooping into library borrowers’ reading habits.

But consider what the ACLU says when it is seeking to be taken seriously by people who know something about the issues: “Most of the voluminous PATRIOT Act is actually unobjectionable from a civil-liberties point of view, and … the law makes important changes that give law enforcement agents the tools they need to protect against terrorist attacks.”

That’s right: That was the ACLU talking, in an April 5 press release ( http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=17935&c=206 ). To be sure, the release goes on to stress that “a few provisions … unnecessarily trample civil liberties, and must be revised.” Well, perhaps. And with 16 provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act scheduled to sunset on December 31, it is surely time to give the entire 342-page, 156-section law the careful scrutiny that it has not received from most of the legislators who passed it in October 2001.

This is not to deny that the Bush administration has engaged in grave abuses, both at home and abroad, beginning with its unduly prolonged post-9/11 detention and (in many cases) abuse of hundreds of visitors from the Muslim world. Most alarming have been the administration’s claims of near-dictatorial wartime powers to seize and interrogate – even to the point of torture – anyone in the world whom the president labels an “enemy combatant.”

But contrary to many a newspaper account, these abuses and overreaching claims of power had nothing to with the PATRIOT Act, about which so many people have cried wolf that the real wolves have received less attention than they deserve.

The good news is that with the December 31 sunset approaching, serious thinking has penetrated the previously shallow debate. Anyone interested in reading the best arguments for and against the more controversial provisions can find them at http://www.PatriotDebates.com , a collection of mini-debates among an ideologically diverse group of 17 experts. The “sourceblog” was put together by Stewart Baker, chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security.

“In several cases, the civil libertarians we recruited to find fault with particular provisions have ended up proposing modification rather than repeal,” writes Baker. And amid numerous suggestions for modest tinkering, it turns out that only about six provisions have provoked very spirited debate. This should not be surprising: Much of the act consists of long-overdue amendments – which were on the Clinton Justice Department’s wish list well before 9/11 – to give government agents pursuing terrorists and spies the same investigative tools that are available to those pursuing ordinary criminals, and to counteract the bad guys’ use of new technologies such as e-mail and disposable cellphones.

The most widely denounced provision is Section 215, one of the 16 that will sunset unless re-enacted. It is commonly known as the “library” provision because it might someday be used to obtain library records – even though, as the Justice Department reported on April 5, it never has been so used and does not even contain the word “library.” Section 215 authorizes the FBI to obtain an order from a special court, established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ( http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fisa/ ), to require any business or other entity to surrender any records or other “tangible things” that the FBI claims to be relevant to an intelligence investigation.

This power is undeniably sweeping. But it is almost certainly constitutional under Supreme Court rulings that allow, for example, the government to see your credit card records. And it is far less invasive of privacy than, say, a wiretap. What many critics ignore is that for decades, prosecutors have had even more-sweeping powers to issue subpoenas requiring businesses and organizations, including libraries and medical facilities, to hand over any records that are arguably relevant to ordinary criminal investigations. Such subpoenas have been routinely issued without prior judicial scrutiny for many years.

Critics complain that a Section 215 order can apply to records pertaining to people not suspected of being foreign agents. (The same is true of an ordinary subpoena.) But this is as it should be. A key technique for catching terrorists is to trace their activities through those of associates who are not themselves engaged, or known to be engaged, in terrorist activities.

This is not to say that Section 215 is flawless. Most obviously, it fails to specify any way for a recipient of an unwarranted or overly broad order to ask a court to reject or narrow the order. Even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has conceded that this is a defect that should be cured.

Gonzales, in this and other ways, including his April 13 meeting with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero ( http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=18004&c=206 ), has responded to critics far more constructively than his predecessor, John Ashcroft, ever did.

Critics, including Peter Swire, a law professor at Ohio State University who is the Section 215 critic on PatriotDebates.com, also make a strong case that a gag-order provision in Section 215 is unduly sweeping. This provision automatically bars recipients from disclosing Section 215 orders to the media or to anyone else, ever. The purpose is to prevent terrorists from learning that the government is on their trail. But the absolute and perpetual nature of the gag orders eliminates a key check on possible abuse. Swire proposes several limitations. At least one seems worthy of adoption: The gag orders should expire after six months unless extended by the FISA court.

The other major target of civil libertarians is Section 213, which authorizes so-called “sneak-and-peek” warrants for what the government calls “delayed-notice” searches. Ordinarily, search warrants must be served on the subjects at the time of a search. Section 213, which is not among the provisions scheduled to sunset, recognizes several exceptions, allowing judges to delay notice of a search until after a search is already completed, when the government shows that delay may be necessary to avoid: 1) endangering life or physical safety, 2) flight from prosecution, 3) tampering with evidence, 4) intimidation of witnesses, or 5) “otherwise seriously jeopardizing an investigation or unduly delaying a trial.” This last is the so-called catch-all provision.

Amid a deluge of misleading scare rhetoric about FBI agents rummaging through bedrooms and covering their tracks, most critics have ignored the fact that Section 213’s main impact is to codify what courts have done for decades when necessary to avoid blowing the secrecy that is critical to some investigations.

Critics complain that Section 213 was enacted under a false flag, because sneak and-peek searches in terrorism investigations had already been authorized by FISA. The provision’s main impact, they say, has been to make it easier for agents to obtain sneak-and-peek warrants in ordinary criminal investigations. This is true. It’s also true that a strong case can be made for revising Section 213 to require notice of an ordinary criminal-investigation search within, say, seven days unless the court authorizes further delay. And it’s arguable that the catchall provision makes it too easy to get a sneak-and peek warrant.

But on the scale of threats to liberty, Section 213 ranks far, far below such widely ignored laws as, for example, the five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for possessing five grams of crack cocaine.

The debates over the other four most controversial provisions – which cover three subject areas: “roving wiretaps,” information-sharing between criminal and intelligence investigators, and prosecutions of people for providing terrorists with “material support” – also boil down to plausible arguments for and against relatively modest adjustments in the liberty-security balance.

Many libertarians have united behind the proposed SAFE Act ( http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/Terrorism/PATRIOT/safe_act.pdf ), a package of revisions that would probably be of no great harm to the war on terrorism and no great benefit to civil liberties. But at a time of domestic security threats more dire than in any period since the Civil War – threats posed by jihadists who have a chillingly realistic hope of buying or making doomsday weapons that could kill us by the millions – most of these proposals strike me as small steps in the wrong direction.

But even if I’m incorrect about that, the big news is that for all the Sturm und Drang, we may be seeing the emergence of a remarkable expert consensus: For the most part, the USA PATRIOT Act is a good law.

– Stuart Taylor Jr. is a senior writer and columnist for National Journal magazine, where “Opening Argument” appears. His e-mail address is staylor@nationaljournal.com.

BB, it is amazing how your threads seem to support some head in the sand look at how much power this adminstration has attempted to gather. This article is also a decent look at the situation:
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/thenation/20050414/cm_thenation/20050502editors_1

If anyone tries the ridiculous argument, “why do we want police to have to tell a person they are about to tap their phone?”, I may scream. Police don’t do that as it is and never did. They did, however, have to attain a warrant before they attempted to do so. I have never understood why anyone would want to remove that.

I think many provisions need to be dropped when their time expires.

There are a huge amount of reasons to be suspicious the Patriot Act.

Obviously you and I have a very different opinion about what happened on 9/11 – but the fact remains that 9/11 is the basis for practically EVERY decision our government has made since then. Most specifically the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act.

Given that there remains thousands of legitimate, HUGE GAPPING, unanswered questions surrounding the events of 9/11 - and given that the Patriot Act was obviously not just written and thrown together after 9/11 but well before – it is every citizen’s DUTY to make sure our government gives full account of what “really” happened on 9/11.

I know you and many others think it’s a wacky “conspiracy theory” but many millions do not. At the very least, instead of denouncing the doubters, maybe you should “humor” us and let the government PROVE that the DIRECT, unanswered questions are completely unfounded.

CNN video from the Pentagon on 9/1
http://tinyurl.com/7yfee

What I see is a government spending $300 billion (so far) fighting an invisible enemy in a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 when the “true” perpetrator, bin Laden, is largely forgotten – until he’s needed for some political purpose.

The fact that not ONE single conviction has been made in connection with 9/11 – the greatest, most dramatic terrorist act in history – or not one single person in government has been held accountable, is NOT acceptable to me and it shouldn’t be for ANY American citizen. ZERO convictions – this alone, you would think, make people go hmmmm, yeah what about that? Nope they just get angry that you would even bring it up.

Bin Laden says he wasn’t behind attacks
http://tinyurl.com/bf3r8

Judge Frees 9/11 Suspect In Germany
Ruling Could Undo Only Conviction

Feds Ask To Toss Moussaoui Case

Terror cell case flawed from Day 1, feds claim
http://www.detnews.com/2004/metro/0409/02/a01-261970.htm

Ex-terror suspect freed
http://www.detnews.com/2004/metro/0410/13/c01-302102.htm

Detroit Terrorism Case Shows Need for Civil Liberties
Government admits it withheld key evidence from attorneys for men accused of being terrorists
http://www.detnews.com/2004/editorial/0409/02/a14-261391.htm

But these guys we got :
‘Paintball Terrorists’ Convicted of Conspiracy
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,113310,00.html

To accept what happened on 9/11 at face value is completely irresponsible. To think that this terrorist group commandeered four commercial airliners with “box cutters” and flew through the most heavily guarded air space for two hours unimpeded and successfully crashed into our national defense headquarters – when within the six months prior, FAA received at least 52 warnings and briefings from the government advising of possible hijackings. That same year prior to 9/11, our air defense scrambled and intercepted 67 planes that wandered into restricted airspace, within in minutes, not hours.
FAA Got 52 Warnings in 6 Mos

Mayor Willie Brown got low-key early warning about air travel

Alleged Hijackers May Have Trained at U.S. Military Bases
http://tinyurl.com/66bhu

Three steel and reinforced concrete buildings completely collapse on 9/11 into their own footprint in perfect symmetry (with one not even being hit by a plane but still falls straight down) – yet to question this impossibility is considered looney tunes or treasonous?

WTC 7 collapse video
http://www.911research.com/wtc/evidence/videos/docs/wtc7_collapse2.mpg

The collapse of the WTC
by Kevin Ryan
Underwriters Laboratories
http://www.septembereleventh.org/newsarchive/2004-11-11-ryan.php

Muslims Suspend Laws of Physics
http://www.public-action.com/911/jmcm/physics_1.html

Madrid skyscraper burns for two entire days down to the skeleton, and doesn’t collapse


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/4262509.stm

What We Don’t Know About 9/11 Hurts Us

Remains of 9/11 victims ‘to spend eternity’ in city rubbish dump

Humor us…
Respected Leaders and Families Launch 9/11 Truth Statement Demanding Deeper Investigation into the Events of 9/11

NEW YORK CITY, NY (Oct. 26, 2004) - An alliance of 100 prominent Americans and 40 family members of those killed on 9/11 today announced the release of the 911 Truth Statement, a call for immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur. The Statement supports an August 31st Zogby poll that found nearly 50% of New Yorkers believe the government had foreknowledge and “consciously failed to act,” with 66% wanting a new 9/11 investigation.

Focusing on twelve questions, the Statement highlights areas of incriminating evidence that were either inadequately explored or ignored by the Kean Commission, ranging from insider trading and hijacker funding to foreign government forewarnings and inactive defenses around the Pentagon. The Statement asks for four actions: an immediate investigation by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Congressional hearings, media analysis, and the formation of a truly independent citizens-based inquiry.
http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20041026093059633

Hardly frivolous or unimportant questions – my point being that if the Patriot Act is a direct result of 9/11, we all better damn sure demand full accountability. If you can look at just this small bit of info and wonder if something is wrong, you better start speaking up soon.

FYI - David Ray Griffin author of “The New Pearl Harbor” will be on C-Span tonight @7:30

Of course we should blindly trust that the Patriot Act is only for our own good and safety – because up till now the government has been so upfront with us.

I realize this news has been played out in the liberal media… I mean, you can’t turn on the TV without hearing over and over again, “Bush’s uncle, CEO of Rigg’s Bank - fined record $25 million for money laundering and terror financing in connection with 9/11” - but it is possible some people probably haven’t heard about it ; )

Funny thing is they keep saying “Saudi Arabia” when I think they mean Iraq.

Riggs Bank fined $25M for Saudi transactions
WASHINGTON (APOnline) - Federal regulators fined Riggs Bank a record $25 million on Thursday for allegedly violating anti-money laundering laws in its handling of tens of millions in cash transactions in Saudi-controlled accounts under investigation for possible links to terrorism financing.

The civil fine against the midsize Washington bank with a near-exclusive franchise on business with the capital’s diplomatic community is the largest ever imposed on a financial institution for such violations, experts said. It had been expected.
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2004-05-14-riggs-fine_x.htm

Web Site Cites Bush-Riggs Link
Washington Post
A political Web site written by a Democratic operative drew attention yesterday to the fact that President Bush’s uncle, Jonathan J. Bush, is a top executive at Riggs Bank, which this week agreed to pay a record $25 million in civil fines for violations of law intended to thwart money laundering.

Jonathan Bush, who is a major fundraiser for his nephew, was appointed in 2000 to run Riggs Investment Management Co.

(W’s uncle Jonathan Bush - CEO of Rigg’s Bank fined record $25 mil - dubbed “NOT NEWS” by liberal media)

How Did the Washington Post Miss the Year’s Biggest Local Business Story?
Why has the Washington Post been badly scooped by out-of-town dailies on the global scandal swirling around DC’s Riggs Bank?
-Washingtonian
"Now the FBI and federal investigators are probing whether the president of an African country laundered millions of dollars through Riggs. Investigators are also looking into possible terrorism financing through transactions by Saudi officials. Bank regulators have deemed Riggs “a troubled institution.”
http://www.washingtonian.com/inwashington/buzz/riggs.html

Fed Order Puts Riggs Under Closer Oversight

9-11 Hijackers: A Saudi Money Trail?
The Feds probe a possible new Saudi link to Al Qaeda
Newsweek
The FBI is investigating whether the Saudi Arabian government–using the bank account of the wife of a senior Saudi diplomat–sent tens of thousands of dollars to two Saudi students in the United States who provided assistance to two of the September 11 hijackers, according to law-enforcement sources.

The bureau, they say, has uncovered financial records showing a steady stream of payments to the family of one of the students, Omar Al Bayoumi.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/11.26A.newswk.911.htm

Classified Section of Sept. 11 Report Faults Saudi Rulers
New York Times
July 26 2003

WASHINGTON, July 25 - Senior officials of Saudi Arabia have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable groups and other organizations that may have helped finance the September 2001 attacks, a still-classified section of a Congressional report on the hijackings says, according to people who have read it.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/072703A.shtml

Lawmakers Accuse Administration of Protecting Saudi Sentiment with Secrecy
Associated Press
July 27 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Bush administration should make public the facts about Saudi Arabia’s complicity with terrorists rather than worry about offending the kingdom, lawmakers said Sunday.

One senator said 95 percent of the classified pages of a congressional report released last week into the work of intelligence agencies before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was kept secret only to keep from embarrassing a foreign government.

“I think they’re classified for the wrong reason,” Sen. Richard Shelby, former vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I went back and read every one of those pages, thoroughly. … My judgment is 95 percent of that information could be declassified, become uncensored so the American people would know,” said Shelby, R-Ala.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/072803B.shtml

BTW, watch out for those perscription drugs coming out of Canada…

JTF,

2 things.

  1. Do you know HOW to stay on topic?

  2. Do you even read the stories you link? I looked at your Riggs stories. Riggs bought an investment company that Bush’s uncle owned in 1997, and the Saudi and other accounts were not at all linked to his division. I suppose this all goes back to your not having a clue about how large conglomorate corporations work…

ANyway, I’m not getting sucked into another ridiculous conspiracy conversation. Go start your own thread.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
BB, it is amazing how your threads seem to support some head in the sand look at how much power this adminstration has attempted to gather. This article is also a decent look at the situation:
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/thenation/20050414/cm_thenation/20050502editors_1

If anyone tries the ridiculous argument, “why do we want police to have to tell a person they are about to tap their phone?”, I may scream. Police don’t do that as it is and never did. They did, however, have to attain a warrant before they attempted to do so. I have never understood why anyone would want to remove that.

I think many provisions need to be dropped when their time expires. [/quote]

Prof,

I read your article. A lot of puffery without any substance – basically, a lot of claims about the scary Patriot Act, along with mentions of things that aren’t related to the Patriot Act – namely rendition and Guantanamo. But then again, I wouldn’t expect The Nation to limit itself to relevant facts when writing a scare editorial.

I will definitely agree that there are some common-sense fixes that can be fairly easily applied to the Patriot Act. I haven’t had the opportunity to go over the proposed SAFE act, which both your and my articles reference, so I don’t have an opinion on it. However, all the “Sky is falling” people who have accused everyone else of playing ostrich about the Patriot Act simply haven’t come up with any evidence that all the abuses they have been warning about have occurred.

Seriously, where are the major abuses? Why aren’t the safeguards, such as judicial review on the “sneak and peak” warrants, good enough?

I would personally be all for limiting the application of the Patriot Act to terrorism cases – to the point of disallowing evidence for prosecution of other crimes if no links to terrorism can be established. But most of the Patriot Act was stuff that law enforcement had been pushing for since at least the Clinton administration in order to deal with modern technology.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
JTF,

2 things.

  1. Do you know HOW to stay on topic?

  2. Do you even read the stories you link? I looked at your Riggs stories. Riggs bought an investment company that Bush’s uncle owned in 1997, and the Saudi and other accounts were not at all linked to his division. I suppose this all goes back to your not having a clue about how large conglomorate corporations work…

ANyway, I’m not getting sucked into another ridiculous conspiracy conversation. Go start your own thread.[/quote]

BB, what did you expect? They can’t win on issues, they can’t make coherent arguments, so all they can do is smear–hoping to use sheer volume to obscure what they don’t have, what doesn’t exist.

Joe, wtf are you talking about “they”. Sigh.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Prof,

I read your article. A lot of puffery without any substance – basically, a lot of claims about the scary Patriot Act, along with mentions of things that aren’t related to the Patriot Act – namely rendition and Guantanamo. But then again, I wouldn’t expect The Nation to limit itself to relevant facts when writing a scare editorial.
[/quote]

If these are just “claims”:

[quote]Through January 2005 the Justice Department served at least 155 “sneak-and-peek” search warrants, undermining the fundamental American tradition requiring reasonable notice of searches and seizures. Many of those secret warrants involved not terrorism but conventional prosecution for violent crime and drugs–a broadening of police power with no national-security justification. Personal records have been seized on thirty-five occasions. And then there is what is not knowable. The expanded use of secret courts to hear secret evidence, particularly against foreign nationals but against citizens as well: Secret evidence was apparently a factor in the wrongful arrest of attorney Brandon Mayfield for what proved to be nonexistent connections to the Madrid bombing. The growing unease across party lines was unmistakable. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy blasted “the Administration’s destruction of legitimate oversight” while former GOP Representative Bob Barr argued that national security “has taken precedence” over protecting civil liberties.
[/quote]

Then could you point me the way to the truth that debunks the “claims”? You are saying all of this is false info?

[quote]Joe Weider wrote:
BB, what did you expect? They can’t win on issues, they can’t make coherent arguments, so all they can do is smear–hoping to use sheer volume to obscure what they don’t have, what doesn’t exist.
[/quote]

If your role on this board from now on is to play “Yes man” to everyone else who actually does have something to add, let me know now. I would like to get onward with the business of avoiding anything you type if that is case.

[quote]
BostonBarrister wrote:
Prof,

I read your article. A lot of puffery without any substance – basically, a lot of claims about the scary Patriot Act, along with mentions of things that aren’t related to the Patriot Act – namely rendition and Guantanamo. But then again, I wouldn’t expect The Nation to limit itself to relevant facts when writing a scare editorial.

Professor X wrote:
If these are just “claims”:[/quote]

Well, let’s look at them.

[quote]
Through January 2005 the Justice Department served at least 155 “sneak-and-peek” search warrants, undermining the fundamental American tradition requiring reasonable notice of searches and seizures. [/quote]

Firstly, what are they talking about? What “fundamental American tradition”? You’d think if it were a Constitutional right they were referencing they would have the decency to reference it. The Constitution isn’t that long – it wouldn’t take too long to find.

However, there isn’t one. So they make up some “tradition”. And throw in the word “reasonable” for good measure.

The little fact of no Constitutional right kind of colors the whole thing.

OK – how many? Which ones? Many?

Notice how this is squeezed in there. First they make some broad statement on “many” and then throw in this item about personal records seized on 35 occasions – without making any connection between the two. I suppose we are to assume that these are among the “many” that aren’t related to terrorism? If that were true, why not say it explicitly? It doesn’t seem to me they would back away from making a strong claim if there were evidence to back it up.

[quote]
And then there is what is not knowable. The expanded use of secret courts to hear secret evidence, particularly against foreign nationals but against citizens as well: Secret evidence was apparently a factor in the wrongful arrest of attorney Brandon Mayfield for what proved to be nonexistent connections to the Madrid bombing. [/quote]

Speculation. I don’t even know the parameters of this “secrecy.” Do people who are charged get to confront the evidence against them? The answer has to be yes to that. If so, how is it secret? Because The Nation can’t see it? And this is different from gag orders on normal trials how? Just in scope?

So a Democratic Senator and a paleocon Bush critic who is a former GOP representative are critical. THis isn’t really news.

See above.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:

See above.[/quote]

But you didn’t prove any of the “speculation” wrong. You simply brought in even more questions. The only difference is, you ride on the side of trusting those in power to only do what is generally perceived as right while I don’t trust anyone at all with that much power. In the end, we both still stand here equally uninformed.

I’ve tossed some ideas out about this type of issue before. Interestingly, in discussing whether or not capitalism is a utopia, we’ve run across them again.

In the history of mankind, people have always abused power. Sure, not all people in a position of authority are bad, but given time just about any power one has been granted over another has been abused.

So, while the ability to find and fight terrorism is a great goal, I will always maintain that adequate checks and balances, adequate oversight, must always be in place to counteract the inevitable abuses of power that will occur.

Just as liberals are often accused of kumbaya beliefs, conservatives can be accused of kumbaya beliefs with respect to the behavior of those in authority at times.

So, for each and every new capability granted to law enforcement, look at how it plays out when a corrupt official is using the tool for innappropriate purposes.

For example, an everyday abuse of authority, officer sees a cute woman driver, runs plates and gets address or otherwise invents a quasi-official way to get information and meet said woman. Does everyone do this? No. Has it been done? Yes.

Big deal? Maybe not. You can construct your own scenarios where it does become a big deal, where the victim is almost powerless to fight back, and yes, sadly, these situations too do happen.

Anyway, I know I haven’t said anything specific about the Patriot Act yet, but if I can find the time to do so, this is the lens that my comments will be arriving through.

I don’t see it as either liberal or conservative, just a desire to put adequate safegaurds in place to protect the rights of the public from abuses of power. Maybe I’m wrong and this is a completely liberal viewpoint. You tell me.

I know some folks argue that rights are not important in a time of war, but I suggest that this is simply a reaction to fear. Fear is not a good maker of policy, though it is a good motivator. Greed or a desire for control are also not good makers of policy, though they too are often motivational.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
BostonBarrister wrote:

See above.

But you didn’t prove any of the “speculation” wrong. You simply brought in even more questions. The only difference is, you ride on the side of trusting those in power to only do what is generally perceived as right while I don’t trust anyone at all with that much power. In the end, we both still stand here equally uninformed.[/quote]

I wasn’t trying to prove it wrong. I was saying it was a bunch of puffery – a bunch of claims with no substance. And that’s what it is.

Check out some of the debate threads that are on this site – they’re quite interesting:

http://www.patriotdebates.com/

Boston, what criteria do you have for someone to voice valid concerns with respect to the Patriot Act?

Is there anything less than some court of authority that will make decision in this regard that will satisfy you?

Obviously, that will never happen in the current climate. Are you actually looking to debate anything or are you intending to dismiss all concerns as mere speculation based on events that are not officially connected?

I would like to look at substantive concerns. If someone wants to talk about the possibility of something being abused, that’s fine - but did you read that Nation editorial? It made it sound as if the sky was already falling…

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
I would like to look at substantive concerns. If someone wants to talk about the possibility of something being abused, that’s fine - but did you read that Nation editorial? It made it sound as if the sky was already falling…[/quote]

I think that most of the provisions in question should be renewed, but perhaps tweaked a bit, and Gonzales to his credit seemed willing to do some minor changes, I think most of the hoopla centers around the “library” provision, but simple tweaks would help change negative perceptions. I feel like the main problem is a 2+2 scenario:
take one patriot act and add one bush administration and you get major conspiracy theories (example the feds looking at EVERYBODY’s library records).

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
JTF,

2 things.

  1. Do you know HOW to stay on topic?

  2. Do you even read the stories you link? I looked at your Riggs stories. Riggs bought an investment company that Bush’s uncle owned in 1997, and the Saudi and other accounts were not at all linked to his division. I suppose this all goes back to your not having a clue about how large conglomorate corporations work…

Anyway, I’m not getting sucked into another ridiculous conspiracy conversation. Go start your own thread.[/quote]

If you think I hijacked your thread I apologize, however -

  1. 9/11 IS the topic – or don’t you recall how all this came about? IF the events surrounding 9/11 didn’t happen the way we’ve all been told, then the Patriot Act is nothing more than a way to gain more control of the populace. CAUTION and ACCOUNTABILITY are hardly out of line given the consequences.

  2. To tell you the truth I baited you a little on that one – of course the Bush connection could very well be just “mere coincidence” like the hundreds of others “coincidences”. The real issue of course is that a MAJOR DC financial institution is fined a record $25 million for not reporting years of suspicious activity linking the Saudi’s to financing terrorists. The fact that the Saudi’s are directly linked to the 9/11 terrorists is of no concern to you apparently. Invading a country that didn’t have anything to do with 9/11 while completely ignoring the ACTUAL Saudi involvement is business as usual I guess. No big story here – as long as we’re bombing SOMEBODY.

So we shouldn’t question 9/11 because to do so is “ridiculous” – yet the REACTION to 9/11 makes perfect sense to you. Invade Iraq. Little facts like bin Laden never being caught, no terror convictions in connection to 9/11, bin Laden’s past work with the CIA, Saudi involvement - all irrelevant.

Do you know why they rarely show WTC 7 collapsing? Because it looks VERY odd. A building not hit by a plane collapses just like the other 2 towers - apparently from a “diesel fuel fire”. But here’s a building that hardly shows any visible signs of a raging fire and it just collapses straight down - perfectly symmetrical. Compare the video to the photo above of the Madrid fire. Skyscrapers do not just collapse from fire, and it has NEVER happened - except on 9/11.
WTC 7 collapse video
http://www.911research.com/wtc/evidence/videos/docs/wtc7_collapse2.mpg

But I ask you BB, do you think Eisenhower was a conspiracy theorist?:

“In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
-Eisenhower Farewell Address

[quote]JustTheFacts wrote:
But I ask you BB, do you think Eisenhower was a conspiracy theorist?:

“In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
-Eisenhower Farewell Address[/quote]

I think this sentiment has been tossed out of the window.