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Party Leaders Sell Out Our Rights in a Backroom Deal on the Patriot Act

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On Thursday Rep. John Boehner, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Harry Reid announced that after a secretive backroom meeting they had agreed on a plan to renew the PATRIOT Act for four more years — to ram it through the Senate and then the House with little or no debate before anyone can really organize any opposition. The Senate is expected to vote on Monday and the House by Wednesday.

Why did they take this route? It seems obvious. They are more aware than we realized how strongly opposed the grassroots of both parties are to any further extension of the remaining provisions of the act. They know we’re fed up. They saw the anger when they tried to force a long-term renewal back in February, and they .don’t want to take any chances this time. By this action they are clearly declaring that their personal loyalties are not to their parties and not to their constituents, but to the bipartisan ruling elite who control Congress and the federal bureaucracy.

The three sections of the PATRIOT Act which are up for renewal override longstanding privacy protections in common law and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Historically it has been necessary to go to a judge and show evidence to justify a warrant before searching a location or carrying out surveillance. The sections of the PATRIOT Act they are trying to renew take away that fundamental protection. They allow roving wiretaps of phone and data transmission without even identifying the target being investigated, the seizure of private and professional records without due process, secret surveillance orders against any individual without evidence of a crime and blanket search warrants called National Security Letters.

These provisions are contrary to the most basic principles of individual rights on which our country was founded and are blatantly unconstitutional. They violate the privacy of millions in the hopes of catching a few terrorist associates who could have been caught by more traditional means, as has been the case with almost every terrorist arrest since 9/11.

We fought the Revolutionary War to protect the rights which these parts of the PATRIOT Act have taken away from us. One of the chief concerns at that time was the right of citizens to be protected from abusive government prosecution, including secret courts and blanket warrants called Writs of Assistance which were very similar to these National Security Letters. The PATRIOT Act has brought back these tyrannies of autocratic misrule and it is past time to do away with it.

Some of the Senators and Representatives who opposed renewing the PATRIOT Act in February are going to try to raise opposition and delay the process. Rand Paul. (RLC-KY) will get first crack at it in the Senate. Then it will be on his father Ron Paul (RLC-TX) and allies like Justin Amash (RLC-MI) to oppose it in the House. Their best hope is to delay the process while citizens frantically call and email their representatives to try to organize more opposition, with the goal of gathering enough votes to either block the renewal or at least limit it to a shorter term as was the outcome in February.

If you want to add your voice to the protests, the Republican Liberty Caucus has organized a call-in and write-in campaign which you can join.

About Dave Nalle

  • zingzing

    “How can we trust HIM (or her) with the “temporary” extra control given to him by the Patriot Act, when we don’t even know who that will be?”

    well, that’s true. i dunno. keep in mind that it wasn’t the entire act that was up for a vote, only specific parts of it. and, from what i’ve read, it seems that every one of those specific parts requires a court order.

    it passed initial voting 74-8 in the senate. that’s a big hill to climb by “later this week,” when the final vote is held. however, there does seem to be an amendment to the bill making the rounds, which would “impose limitations and oversight,” whatever that really means. it looks like it may just be a delay tactic.

    in february, similar extensions of legislation were defeated, mostly by the dems. now it seems that nearly everyone is on board. what’s changed? is it the specific bits of the bill? or were they told something different this time? i dunno.

    it’s hard to know exactly how the patriot act has been used, as that’s all kept under wraps, for obvious reasons. but that’s what makes people despise it so. it’s too secretive and obviously a potential threat to real civil liberties. but this is one of those powers that you can’t just hand to somebody and then say “well, you’ve got to hand that back to me now.” then they say, “make me.” it was a pandora’s box that never should have been opened.

  • Clavos

    I would venture to say that everyone on these comment threads who has in any way demonstrated disgust, dislike, or opposition to any of the governments in this country is on at least one secret law enforcement list, myself included.

    I don’t know this but I believe it — firmly.

  • Irene Athena

    Call 202-224-3542 Sen. Harry Reid’s office. Remind him that the Congressional Record shows him promising (bargaining for the 90-day extension back in February) an open amendment process and a week of debate when that 90 day extension was over.

    Hold Reid’s feet to the fire to hold up his end of the deal, or at least part of it. And encourage your senators to press for that, too. What’s changed in the last three months, besides the story that Public Enemy #1 Osama bin Laden has been executed.

    Next, you can call the Capital Switchboard at 202-224-3121, give the operator the name of the state where you live, and they’ll put you through to an aide from one of your senators, and at least call for a FULL and OPEN amendment process, and to vote against a cloture vote/final passage that would bypass debate.

    That’s of course, if you are more inclined to see the process continue out in the open, than to have it happen behind closed doors, for reasons only your President (or the military industrial/corporate complex pulling his strings) knows for sure.

    Others have posted links to the ACLU upthread and Dave has posted a link to the Republican Liberty Caucus on page 2 of the article. I’m posting here to the Campaign for Liberty. There ARE thinkers, who, while disagreeing on a number of issues, agree that it’s time for the sunset of the Patriot Act, promised ten years ago.

    But their opinions won’t mean anything to Congress unless we the people convey that message to them.

    I’m trying to relight a fire that was once under you both, ZingZing and handyguy. Go to a cooler place and think it over if you find my voice too heated.

    The more the merrier, Clavos :)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Irene –

    That’s a good point – however good Obama’s intentions may be with the Patriot Act, there’s a REAL good chance that it would be used for ill in the future. Can we imagine what Nixon might have done with it? Or Joe McCarthy, if he’d ever become president?

  • Irene Athena

    Now pick up that phone and dial, Glenn :)

  • Dave Nalle

    For those who aren’t following this closely, the fight goes on for at least another day in the Senate because of Rand Paul’s heroic 7 hur filibuster, so make those calls and send those emails.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Okay, Irene, will do.

    *walks off grumbling about yet another woman telling him what to do and he can’t argue about it because just like his wife, she’s got that annoying habit of being right….*

  • zingzing

    hey irene– i’m dialing the number right now… shit, it went on for 20 rings without an answer. i guess that’s what you get at 4 am. at least i wanted to leave a message. maybe i’ll try tomorrow. i called the other number and got ahold of the guy from new york’s message service. i left a message saying i thought the continuance of the patriot act shit was disturbing.

    although the chances of him listening to that are minimal, i have done my part. i don’t like any more than you do.

    however, i’ll admit i don’t know everything that’s going on. i’m sure you would as well. and now my number is in a federal databank as opposed to the patriot act. thanks. i’m sure i won’t be audited now. damn it. shit.

  • Clavos

    Hell, zing you were already on every list the feds have.

    They needed a “z” to close ‘em out…

  • Irene Athena

    202-224-3121 does work, and thanks for calling it, ZingZing.

    For those who haven’t called your Senators, do at as soon as you can grab a minute–Wednesday is one more day that you can let your Senators know the people want a FULL and OPEN debate over the amendments to the Patriot Act. My calls to the aides for both of the Senators from my State, from dialing to hang-up, took about two minutes each. The switchboard will patch you right over to the Senators from your state.

    Thank you also, Glenn.

  • Cindy

    Roger!!!! smooooch! :-)

  • Cindy

    Wow another pack of doods criticizing Irene. She MUST be saying something I will like!

    Gonna read now. :-)

  • Irene Athena

    They started being nice to me toward the end, though, Cindy. Hiya! by the way, and bye-ya, too. Someone just walked in the door.

  • Clavos

    Someone just walked in the door.

    Someone you know (and not in law enforcement), I hope.

  • handyguy

    Well, Irene can be very nice or she can go into zealot/attack mode, which she has done more frequently lately. We were responding to that.

  • Irene Athena

    I’m good, Clavos. It was not a foe.

  • Irene Athena

    Except for sometimes, Clavos, and then we take his cell phone away.

  • zingzing

    cindy: “Wow another pack of doods criticizing Irene. She MUST be saying something I will like!”

    yeah, reading the thread would have helped… disappointed?

  • Irene Athena


  • Irene Athena

    If she chose to tell me that she was, if she was, she would’ve ZingZing.

    She’s a Pa Poof Gool and we try to disagree civilly when we do.

  • zingzing

    irene: “If she chose to tell me that she was, if she was, she would’ve ZingZing.”

    what? disappointed? or what what? cindy is a nice person, and i value her contributions as much as that means to people around here, but that statement at that time was kinda like a open door. you can’t blamed me if i walked in and robbed the place. you know that was wide open, and it needed to be plundered.

  • zingzing

    but thanks for defending me on another thread, irene. that won’t be forgotten. fair play.