A great adage for all political parties should be, “Never legislate yourself more power than you would be comfortable with the other side having if you lose government.” Unfortunately in the case of the Patriot Act, The Republicans were for it before they were against it after being voted out, and the Democrats were against it before they were for it. Now it seems that both sides are for it.
Perhaps the public need to be more circumspect when looking at legislation and objecting more vociferously to draconian acts by either side, and when seeing ‘bipartisanship’ should understand that if it is in the interests of both sides, then they are getting well and truly screwed.
One of the consistent voices on the side of freedom is Senator Rand Paul, who seems to be one of the very few standing up for the Constitution in the face of overwhelming odds in the battle to end this act. He has moved and supported a number of amendments to the act, and spoken towards these:
Essentially those in favor of extending the act are arguing that those who oppose it would be responsible for any act of any terrorist in the future, whether or not the provisions would have prevented it or not. This has intimidated most to the point where the attempt to block cloture was defeated 74/8 with only four Dems and three Republicans supporting him.
Rand is a strong and articulate voice for liberty in the USA, and has great scope for the Presidency at some time in the future. I have doubts as to whether it is now as the US population is justifiably wary of electing inexperienced first term senators to that position. Still, his letter to senate colleagues is telling:
He (James Otis) condemned these general warrants as “the worst instrument[s] of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty and the fundamental principles of law, that ever w[ere] found in an English law book.” Otis objected to these writs of assistance because they “placed the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer.” The Fourth Amendment was intended to guarantee that only judges—not soldiers or policemen—would issue warrants. Otis’ battle against warrantless searches led to our Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable government intrusion.
My main objection to the PATRIOT Act is that searches that should require a judge’s warrant are performed with a letter from an FBI agent—a National Security Letter (“NSL”).
I object to these warrantless searches being performed on United States citizens. I object to the 200,000 NSL searches that have been performed without a judge’s warrant.
I object to over 2 million searches of bank records, called Suspicious Activity Reports, performed on U.S. citizens without a judge’s warrant.
As February 28th approaches, with three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act set to expire, it is time to re-consider this question: Do the many provisions of this bill, which were enacted in such haste after 9/11, have an actual basis in our Constitution, and are they even necessary to achieve valid law-enforcement goals?
The USA PATRIOT Act, passed in the wake of the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, is no doubt well-intentioned. However, rather than examine what went wrong, and fix the problems, Congress instead hastily passed a long-standing wish list of power grabs like warrantless searches and roving wiretaps. The government greatly expanded its own power, ignoring obvious answers in favor of the permanent expansion of a police state.
It is not acceptable to willfully ignore the most basic provisions of our Constitution—in this case—the Fourth and First Amendments—in the name of “security.” ....