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Monday, July 28, 2014

Patriot Act...necessary or overboard?

Posted Monday, July 16, 2007, at 8:29 AM

Some 45 days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress, with very minimal debate passed the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Aimed at increasing powers for law enforcement officials to help pre-empt terrorists, the law opened up a number of private records to government viewing.

I'm only going to list a couple here.

First, the Patriot Act expanded the government's use of wiretaps. Prior to 2001, getting a wiretap required a judge's approval. Now, this can be done based on any suspicion. On the face this sounds fine, and I was all for it back in the day, don't misunderstand me.

The problem is that the reason the courts were meant to be involved in this process is as a system of checks and balances. A judges involvement was meant as a way to ensure that governmental powers were not being abused. Our founding fathers put many things "on the books" for just that purpose.

That leads right in to the ability to inspect records. The Patriot Act went so in depth in this section that it gives the government the right to view your library card if they so choose. Prior to the Patriot Act's inception, had to show reasonable cause to seek records out, now they need only specify that the order is "for an authorized investigation . . . to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."

Renewed on March 9, 2006, dubbed Patriot 2, renewing the original act with a few changes.

I understand the need for law enforcement to have the ability to conduct investigations as they need. Thus far, this has not changed my life. However, when you begin sacrificing liberties for temporary security you open up a slippery slope that I don't want to go down.

I can see the use temporarily, but it seems like regulations have a tendency to increase, not decrease as time goes on and this was simply a major step in that direction.

In times of crisis, for instance when the bill was originally passed, law enforcement needs some extra leniency, but it shouldn't be a permanent thing.

What's your take on this?


Comments
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Why would I, a law abiding or any law abiding citizen be concerned about a camera watching me in a public place. I would care if I was going to do something illegal or immoral. To me, a camera is no different than a person watching, which is what can occur in a public place. A camera only confirms that I am complying with the established law and norms of society. Anywhere I should expect privacy is a different story.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Aug 1, 2007, at 2:03 PM

I have been pondering this for a LONG time, as this blog appears to be fading away.

Why has no one here voiced an objection to their loss of privacy when the city of Sikeston installed CAMERAS to watch their every move on their selected streets?

-- Posted by D.W.B. on Wed, Aug 1, 2007, at 12:33 PM

I think you are right. It does have the potential to get out of hand, and so do many other laws in our country. Hopefully the people who abuse get caught. It appears to me that the abusers have been caught. I am very comfortable with this.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Thu, Jul 19, 2007, at 7:13 PM

I understand everyone's viewpoints on this. Personally though, I don't have anything to worry about. I'm not committing any major crimes... other than going 5 miles over the speed limit and rolling through stop signs.

However, I can see where it has the potential to get out of hand. We are trusting the FBI and etc. to have genuine reason for surveilling someone. Overall though, I'm for it.

-- Posted by vambfly on Thu, Jul 19, 2007, at 9:41 AM

I didn't feel it needed any greater response.

I spent a couple tours in Germany, it was OK, but it sure reinforced my appreciation for our country. There is nothing wrong with Germany, just different.

Morality laws a little more liberal. Other a little more stricter.

I wasn't real comfortable with it. Especially the second tour when my older son had began to grow up a little bit.

I guess relaxing the morality laws gives law enforcement and intelligence personnel a little more time to devote to other acts such as subversion or terrorism.

By the second time I was there they had relaxed their immigration laws so much that it was actually a little scary. Everyone knew there were some bad people there. It was basically out of control.

It did give me and my family the opportunity to travel around and visit other countries, but I never want to go back.

I love this place. The Patriot Act is nothing. If there is someone monitoring this blog tonight, or my phone calls, or my mail, or my library card, or who my friends are, or what church I attend they will not see anything to get excited about and will shortly move on to someone else. Watch out J and you too cake lady. That cake you make could cause you problems.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 11:06 PM

In fact, one day in class, we found the German national anthem on the computer. Someone was just teasing him, and they put their hand up in the old Nazi salute --- and he was genuinely shocked. He said, "Don't do that!!! You could be put in jail for that!"

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 6:52 PM

"I guess"???? What kind of answer is that, I.B.?? Where is your fire? Where is your passion? Are you gonna let J. off the hook that easy?

Not like you.

And actually, one of my former exchange students is back in Germany, and he doesn't describe the Nazi Party as being very active... Still alive, but very closely watched.

I'm talking about the German citizens who were not in the streets cheering - or maybe their regret was after the fact.... when they saw how bad it was getting.....

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 6:48 PM

I guess.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 5:30 PM

I also really agree with what was said up there about this act being a group effort. I think we should remember that, just like going to Iraq was a group effort. I'm tired of these political candidates in both parties voting and not being held accountable for their actions on the Hill. I wish we could somehow get our citizens more invovled in trying to find out what these people are really doing up there, so we'll know what they are doing in office. I also feel the same way about the media. I'm tired of all outlets of the meda not being more scrutnized, and I hate that they are hardly ever willing to retract statements or make apologies.

-- Posted by jabelson on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 3:15 PM

If you don't feel threatened by the act, I guess you would say that the act is completing its stated goal?

-- Posted by jabelson on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 3:07 PM

Sorry Corey, this stupid library computer entered my comment 4 times!

-- Posted by swift on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 2:32 PM

GL have you ever seen a film on those people cheering for Hitler. Crazed. They didn't figure it out, they were part of it. I am not seeing it here. There is a large number there that are still part of it. The Nazi party is still alive and well. It's a well known secret. If you live there for a while you will become aware of it. No power, but they are still there.

People abuse laws all the time. Get caught and get punished just like me if I run a stop sign.

Just haven't seen the erosion J. Did someone you know get caught doing something illegal?

No one I know. Happy with it, haven't been infringed upon one bit. When I go to sleep at night I am not thinking better watch out the gestapo might be after me. That may be because I have no inclination to do anything subversive at all.

Haven't lost one freedom. I am not afraid to check out any book that I want to.

Well, I can't keep a Crappie that isn't over nine inches long anymore if that is what you all are talking about. Makes me madder than. But, I put it back. If that was part of the Patriot Act I am against it.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 2:32 PM

Speaking of government surveillance, I heard on The Power Hour shortwave radio talk program today that the government can hear what you are saying even if your cell phone is off. Apparently Fox News covered that. Anybody hear of such a thing?

-- Posted by swift on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 2:30 PM

Speaking of government surveillance, I heard on The Power Hour shortwave radio talk program today that the government can hear what you are saying even if your cell phone is off. Apparently Fox News covered that. Anybody hear of such a thing?

-- Posted by swift on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 2:30 PM

Speaking of government surveillance, I heard on The Power Hour shortwave radio talk program today that the government can hear what you are saying even if your cell phone is off. Apparently Fox News covered that. Anybody hear of such a thing?

-- Posted by swift on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 2:30 PM

Speaking of government surveillance, I heard on The Power Hour shortwave radio talk program today that the government can hear what you are saying even if your cell phone is off. Apparently Fox News covered that. Anybody hear of such a thing?

-- Posted by swift on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 2:30 PM

Oops, I spelled Ronald Reagan wrong!

-- Posted by swift on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 2:26 PM

Thanks for clearing that up, Jabelson - It was just one of those usually irrelevant questions that pop into my irratic brain.......

Obadieh, what if the forces gathering all this information on private citizens are not the sweet, kind, fair entities that you seem to think they are? They may figure that you're safe when they check your library card, but what if I've checked out a book on terrorism......or religious survivalist groups who put together weapons? Are they going to keep an eye on me?

I'm sure the average German, prior to Hitler's rise, could not conceive of any responsible government doing what the Nazis did. By the time they figured it out, it was too late.

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 8:39 AM

I don't necessarily think that the 'if you're not doing anything wrong, you're in the clear' argument is correct. On previous blogs, Truth was singing the glory of the freedoms of our nation from the mountaintops. I agree with you. It is great to be free, and that freedom was gained by men and women giving their lives for it. That's my problem with the Patriot Act. Now then, if you read my post, you'll see that I asked whether or not the USA Patriot Act is actually doing its job of stopping terrorism, or if it is terrorizing our own citizens. Let me be a little more specific.

The purpose of the USA Patriot Act is stated as follows:

[to] "deter and punish American terrorists in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes."

On March 9, 2007 there was an audit of the Act. Here are some of the findings.

The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the US, a justice department audit found today.

According to the highly critical 126-page report, FBI agents sometimes demanded the information without proper authorisation and at times improperly obtained telephone records in circumstances that were not emergencies.

It blamed agent error and shoddy record-keeping for most of the problems - and did not find any indication of criminal misconduct - but has confirmed the worst fears of civil liberties groups on the use of the so-called national security letters.

5pm

FBI abused Patriot Act powers, audit finds

Staff and agencies

Friday March 9, 2007

Guardian Unlimited

FBI director Robert Mueller

FBI director Robert Mueller. Photograph: AP

The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the US, a justice department audit found today.

According to the highly critical 126-page report, FBI agents sometimes demanded the information without proper authorisation and at times improperly obtained telephone records in circumstances that were not emergencies.

It blamed agent error and shoddy record-keeping for most of the problems - and did not find any indication of criminal misconduct - but has confirmed the worst fears of civil liberties groups on the use of the so-called national security letters.

Article continues

A power outlined in the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the letters are a form of administrative subpoena used in suspected terrorism and espionage cases to obtain thousands of telephone, business and financial records without prior judicial approval.

"We believe the improper or illegal uses we found involve serious misuses of national security letter authorities," the audit concluded.

The audit found that the number of national security letters issued by the FBI soared after the Patriot Act became law. In 2000, the FBI issued an estimated 8,500 letters.

By 2003, however, that number had jumped to 39,000. It rose again the next year, to about 56,000 letters in 2004, and dropped to approximately 47,000 in 2005.

Over the entire three-year period, the audit found the FBI had issued 143,074 national security letters requesting customer data from businesses.

My question is for Truth and simply this:

If you would say that our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting for the freedom of both of those nation's citizens as well as our own, then why would you support the erosion of some of our most fundamental freedoms on our own soil?

And finally, Goat Lady, I don't know who that person is. Sorry. My professors don't have the time or interest in visiting this site, I'm sure. However, if they do, you'll be fully aware of it as they are far more long winded than even I am.

-- Posted by jabelson on Wed, Jul 18, 2007, at 4:16 AM

Why is everyone so concerned about "big brother?"

If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about, right?

-- Posted by Obadieh on Tue, Jul 17, 2007, at 11:26 PM

Is it terrorizing citizen? Do what? Little overstated isn't it. I don't care if you look at my library card, reading Old Yeller won't be a problem I am sure.

Not one bit concerned. Haven't seen any goose stepping high booters around here.

Sherriff was eyeballing me the other day when he seen me roll through a stop sign. I became a little nervous for a minute. I had just committed and offense.

Is that the kind of terrorism you are talking about? The kind where you are up to mischevious deeds and are afraid you will be caught or the kind where people kill you to promote a political ideology?

What the heck are you all up to out there that you could be terrorized by the patriot act?

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Jul 17, 2007, at 9:27 PM

True, Corey, it was a group failure, but who's gonna vote against something called the PATRIOT act? Voting against patriotism?? Political suicide, even if it turns out to be anything but patriotic. Like saying that you're not against flag burning.....

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jul 17, 2007, at 9:22 PM

Jabelson, I have to ask: Did you persuade one of your professors to post a comment on this blog? (I'm being serious and completely respectful here.)

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jul 17, 2007, at 6:22 PM

Well put, Scotland.

-- Posted by jabelson on Tue, Jul 17, 2007, at 11:07 AM

Some governmental acts may appear to be necessary, or relevant, or harmless when viewed through the eye of current events. But just as justice should be followed through the 'presumption of innocence', one ASSUMES these governmental acts follow the rule under ethical management. What happens when management is not ethical?? It is for THIS reason all action should be examined thoroughly, minimized in scope, limited in duration, filtered through Oversight Procedure, and subject to seperate Review. It is not politics that should hold sway in a government by the people - there should not be the concept of unaccountability for those making decisions, nor the safe harbor of disguise, deceit, obscurity, and protection-from- discovery in the name of 'security'.

Shame on our present White House occupant and staff.

-- Posted by scotland_station on Tue, Jul 17, 2007, at 11:04 AM
Corey Noles' response:
"all action should be examined thoroughly, minimized in scope, limited in duration, filtered through Oversight Procedure, and subject to separate Review."

Very well put. However, this was not strictly the fault of Bush & Co., but ALL of Congress. Out of 100 Senators, 98 voted in favor, 1 against and 1 Senator did not vote.

This was a group failure.

Good point, Corey! I felt at the time that, with the horror of 911 still in our eyes, no one could oppose such a measure. I wonder if the supporters of strong government survelliance saw 911 as a prime opportunity to get their agenda passed?

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jul 17, 2007, at 7:12 AM

Well, as history shows us...during wartime situations our government has taken it upon itself to suspend certain civil liberties (the Sedition Act signed by John Adams, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, Wilson's Espionage Act of 1918, and the internment of the Japanese during WWII all come to my mind immediately). None the less, the center of debate concerning all of these issues is whether or not they worthwhile in hindsight. Did these measures actually lead to a speedier end to the conflicts as they were intended to? I believe that is the question that should be raised when debating the USA Patriot Act. I don't think there is anyway to argue that the Patriot Act is not an invasion or suspension of our civil liberties, but is this Act actually helping to fight the war on terror or is it terrorizing our own citizens?

-- Posted by jabelson on Mon, Jul 16, 2007, at 11:58 AM
Corey Noles' response:
That's a valid question. My natural answer is that we will never know. Most of what all of those agencies do goes on under the radar, and as is usually the case, we are kept out of the loop. On the other hand, six years is a pretty long suspension of one's rights, I'm starting to think this is more of a forfeiture than a suspension.

Answer me this, just 45 days after September 11, was any Senator, who ever wanted to be re-elected actually going to vote against a bill called the U.S.A. Patriot Act? Regardless of what was in there, this sucker was going to pass.

You are right on! The Patriot Act is a violation of the Bill of Rights! As you say, regulations have a way of increasing. Too much federal government soon becomes way too much. Ronald Ragan said, "The government is the problem".

-- Posted by swift on Mon, Jul 16, 2007, at 11:06 AM


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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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