The  USA  Patriot  Act
and the illusion of "homeland security"


In my opinion, the "War on Terrorism" will be a perpetual emergency that will be used to justify a number of small but dangerous power grabs by people in Washington who already have too much power.  Please read my earlier  comments about this power grab, some of which I would like to reiterate:  Not every enemy of this country is a foreigner.  The enemies of this country are those who want to do away with the Electoral College and chip away at the Bill of Rights.  The enemies of this country include legislators who simply don't care if the laws they make are unconstitutional.  The few of us who do care are called "extremists".

According to Amnesty International, the Patriot Act
  • Creates a broad definition of "domestic terrorism" that may have a chilling effect on the US and international rights to free expression and association.
  • Allows non-citizens to be detained without charge and held indefinitely once charged.
  • Infringes on the right to privacy and removes many types of judicial review over intelligence activities.*
The Patriot Act expands the ability of the government to conduct secret searches — even in criminal investigations unrelated to terrorism.  And it grants the FBI broad access to sensitive medical, financial, mental-health and educational records about individuals without having to show evidence of a crime and without a court order.*

Many people believe the USA Patriot Act is much more likely to be a threat to the rights of ordinary Americans than an impediment to terrorists.  If the USA deteriorates into just another totalitarian police state, as a result of an overreaction to the September 11 attacks, then a handful of terrorists have succeeded in disrupting our society forever.  I hope the information below will benefit those who are concerned about this issue.

You may also be interested in my page about Cryptography and Internet Anonymity.

Featured Item:

An excerpt from Attorney General John Ashcroft's
Testimony Before the House Committee on the Judiciary
September 24, 2001.

"Law enforcement tools created decades ago were crafted for rotary telephone — not email, the Internet, mobile communications and voice mail.  Every day that passes without dated statutes* and the old rules of engagement — each day that so passes is a day that terrorists have a competitive advantage.  Until Congress makes these changes, we are fighting an unnecessarily uphill battle.  Members of the committee, I regret to inform you that we are today sending our troops into the modern field of battle with antique weapons.  It is not a prescription for victory."

*Does this mean, "with outdated statutes"?    

As much as I like John Ashcroft, I was stunned by the half-truths in this statement when I heard it.  I was watching his testimony on a live satellite feed as he gave it.  His arguments sounded good at first, but upon closer examination they seem to be based upon specious reasoning.  He wants us to believe that the FBI is stuck in the rotary-dial era while terrorists are using cell phones and email.  Nonsense!  The FBI sifts through email every day using their Carnivore system, and listens in on cell phones all over the world using a system called Echelon.  (And you can be sure that the FBI communicates on really nice radios and cell phones.)  These are not "antique weapons," and nobody knows this more than Attorney General Ashcroft.  His "antique weapons" statement is false, misleading and deceptive.  He expresses concern about each day that passes while the terrorists have an "unfair advantage".  The obvious implication is that he wants his demands (for outlandish federal funding, legal shortcuts, and a huge power grab) met today, before they can be deliberated.  In my opinion, this is a recipe for an Orwellian police state.

Related story:

Surveillance Switcheroo:  How the anti-terrorism bill got passed.  In the days following September 11, it was easy to feel kinda bad for Attorney General John Ashcroft.  He really wanted to catch the terrorists, but he just didn't seem up to the job.  Whiz-bang encryption and communication technologies had left the cops in the dust, he said, and unless the country acted fast, things would only get worse.  That's compelling stuff, but it turns out to be an almost complete inversion of the truth.

"Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions."

- James Madison  

Note:  USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 = Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

Overview and recap:
The USA PATRIOT Act:  The Story of an Impulsive Bill that Eviscerated America's Civil Liberties.  The USA PATRIOT Act provides a textbook example of how the United States federal government expands its power.  An emergency happens, legitimate or otherwise.  The media, playing its dutiful role as goad for greater government oversight, demands "something must be done."  Government power is massively expanded, with little regard for whether or not what is being done is efficacious, to say nothing of the overall impact on our nation's civil liberties.  No goals are posted, because if targets are hit, this would necessitate the ending or scaling back of the program.  Instead, the program becomes normalized.  There are no questions asked about whether the program is accomplishing what it set out to do.  It is now simply a part of American life and there is no going back.  The American public largely accepts the USA PATRIOT Act as a part of civic life as immutable, perhaps even more so than the Bill of Rights.  However, this act — passed in the dead of night, with little to no oversight, in a panic after the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor — is not only novel, it is also fundamentally opposed to virtually every principle on which the United States of America was founded.

The Culmination of Marxist Infiltration, Part 1.  Excuses for the tragedy of 9/11 included the failure of intelligence communities to communicate with each other. [...] Congresses and presidents had deliberately dispersed the intelligence duties across the government to avoid consolidation of power.  But in the name of fighting terrorism, Bush and Congress merged twenty-two of them into one concentration of power under the 2003 Department of Homeland Security.  Within six weeks of the 9/11 attack, the predatory American Security State was born with the passage of the USA Patriot Act; it was to expire in four years.  It authorized unprecedented surveillance of American citizens and individuals worldwide without traditional civil liberties safeguards.  It beefed up surveillance procedures and warrantless wiretapping under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to enable the government to spy on American citizens.  FISA was just reauthorized by Speaker Mike Johnson, without protections against warrantless search and seizure.  The Patriot Act finally expired in March, 2020 without being reauthorized, but federal law enforcement agencies retain most of the authorities granted by the act.

Rejecting the Status Quo Is the Only Way to Survive.  [Scroll down]  Republican voters have spent decades demanding smaller government, less illegal immigration, balanced budgets, and renewed deference to constitutional constraints and the Bill of Rights.  Republican leaders have promised to get right on that — just as soon as they build the Department of Homeland Security, provide sixty million illegal aliens with amnesty, add trillions to the debt in war spending, and expand the PATRIOT Act so that the federal government can spy on every citizen of the United States!

New America:  Guilty Until Further Notice.  Americans might wrongly think the law enforcement phrase "potential threat" or "risk to the public" only refers to the jihadist or gangster.  Many are probably familiar with the House of Representatives discussing how the FBI uses FBI employees and cooperators as a weapon against Americans; this was described as the FBI's weaponization of law enforcement.  What many might not know is who the FBI described as "potential" threats, or "potential domestic terrorists."  The House of Representatives reported that:  ["][T]he FBI singled out Americans who are pro-life, pro-family, and support the biological basis for sex and gender distinction as potential domestic terrorists.["]

HR7521 — TikTok Ban Assurances and Those Who Remember Patriot Act Assurances.  Serendipitously, or not — depending on who you talk to, I was previously scheduled to be in DC at the moment of inflection for the passage of HR7521, the proverbial "TikToK Ban Law."  Allow me to encapsulate the issues and present the point of those who say there is nothing to worry about.  First, the context that should matter (it doesn't because the USIC are in charge here) is that every element that preceded the passage of the Patriot Act is being duplicated in the passage of the TikTok ban.  Which is to say, everyone is deferring to this ridiculous need to support USA National Security.  We The People have been burned by this approach before, yet so many refuse to see the similarity.

The Benefits of Hardship.  While the Patriot Act broadened the toolkit for tracking down foreign threats, its nefarious use as a domestic surveillance weapon took a sledgehammer to Americans' privacy. [...] In the wake of 9/11, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney erected an unconstitutional infrastructure that could be used to spy on Americans' communications and financial transactions.  They enlarged the welfare state, created whole new departments and agencies, increased debts and deficits, expanded federal intrusion into local education and family life, and squandered a great deal of goodwill both at home and abroad.  Instead of championing conservative principles and constitutional governance, the Bush-Cheney White House championed American empire abroad, while sacrificing rights and freedoms at home.

Keep Your Head on a Swivel.  [Scroll down]  Neither the FBI nor the larger Intelligence Community is motivated by the prospect of saving American lives.  Why would the U.S. government see Americans as expendable?  The most straightforward answer is that it does not serve the American people but is instead interested exclusively in expanding its own powers.  What 9/11 confirmed for the Intelligence Community is that even its worst failures can be used to institute unconstitutional laws, such as the Patriot Act, that serve to broaden government authority.  In the subsequent two decades, the federal government has created a complex surveillance system that enables it to spy on every citizen of the United States.  Not only has freedom been foolishly traded for the promise of security, but also that promise proved to be a lie.

22 Years of Blowback from the USA Patriot Act.  [Scroll down]  Allowing the government to spy on the citizenry will not reduce acts of terrorism, but it will result in a watched, submissive, surveillance society.  Not only did the USA Patriot Act normalize the government's mass surveillance powers, but it also dramatically expanded the government's authority to spy on its own citizens without much of any oversight.  Thus, a byproduct of this post 9/11-age in which we live, whether you're walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency is listening in and tracking your behavior.  This doesn't even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.  We have all become data collected in government files.

The Evolution of the American Police State.  In the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, when the reality of international terrorism was fresh in the minds of the American people, The Patriot Act was passed.  An irrational fear had taken over the citizenry that the government used to justify the most sweeping forms of domestic surveillance in the history of the Republic.  The law granted virtually unchecked power to domestic intelligence and law enforcement agencies.  Powers which were quickly turned against the American people who did not genuflect to the political establishment.

DHS: No Return to Pre-9/11 Freedom.  Ever.  Looking back over the last 10 years and thinking about where many of us were and how we felt when the towers fell is surreal.  These are sad thoughts.  But what I find even more saddening is the fact that we have allowed our country to become more and more of a police state over the last 10 years.  And apparently, the end is not in site, and will likely only become worse.  When the Department of Homeland Security was launched after 9/11 and the Patriot Act was launched as a bill that would last only 4 years, many freedom loving Americans squabbled.  Most turned to those rebels and told them to "shut up," that it was necessary to protect America.  Then we allowed the TSA to militarize our airports and treat us like cattle.  Then came the unsecured and blatant violation of personal privacy when travelers data was being collected.  And of course the full body pat downs of children and full-body scans.

Domestic Enemies of the Constitution and the American People.  The political process is, by design, contentious.  Through this tension, the extremes of governance were supposed to be restrained, leading to gradual change, reliable policies, a degree of bipartisanship, and a predictable market economy.  There were always exceptions to the rule, but 9/11 was different, and it opened the door to profound changes in how we engaged the world and the way we viewed our own.  Unprecedented permanent powers were created to surveil Americans citizens, secret intelligence courts were established and normalized, and America's role as guarantor of inalienable rights was no more.  The beginning of the rift between the government and its people results directly from massively increased spending and subsequent actions taken to "protect us," which could also be construed as "control us" — it's a fine line between "for your safety" and "for your enslavement."  Politicians and agencies like the FBI exploited their new mandate to "protect and defend" to increase their power and prestige; today, we live with weaponized bureaucracies and two-tiered justice.

Devin Nunes:  David Weiss is Another John Durham Protective Silo - The Deep State Operation Tracks Back to Obama Weaponizing Intel and DOJ.  This interview segment is almost as if Devin Nunes reads here.  The former House Intel Committee chairman outlines the appointment of David Weiss as another DC silo creation similar in construct to John Durham.  Obviously, Nunes is correct.  Additionally, as Nunes accurately outlines the entire weaponization process traces back to when Barack Obama took office and unleashed the apparatus of the intelligence agencies to target domestic political opposition.  At the same time, Obama's AG Eric Holder created the DOJ National Security Division and then weaponized surveillance under the auspices of FARA and FISA Courts to target one side of the political dynamic.  [Video clip]  Elevator Speech:
  [#1]   The Patriot Act turned the intel surveillance radar from foreign searches for terrorists to domestic searches for terrorists.
  [#2]   Obama/Biden then redefined what is a "terrorist" to include their political opposition.

A Specific Type of Continuity.  As we have exhaustively outlined on these pages, the outcome of the Patriot Act was to create a system where every American was now viewed by our federal government through the prism of the citizen being a potential terrorist threat.  The federal government aligned all of our institutions and systems accordingly.  DHS was created to monitor American behavior, the TSA was created to scan American travelers, and the FBI was enhanced with resources to conduct surveillance despite our Fourth Amendment protections within our Constitution.  Instead of the U.S. Govt protecting U.S. citizens from foreign threats, the Patriot Act changed the mission of government to protect itself from potential citizen threats.  In essence, We the People became the suspects, and all of the constitutional viewpoints within the FBI and Dept of Justice were modified to create monitoring systems.

A Guide to Understanding the Hoax of the Century.  After 9/11, the threat of terrorism was used to justify measures like the Patriot Act that suspended constitutional rights and placed millions of Americans under a shadow of mass surveillance.  Those policies were once controversial but have come to be accepted as the natural prerogatives of state power.  As journalist Glenn Greenwald observed, George W. Bush's "'with-us-or-with-the-terrorists' directive provoked a fair amount of outrage at the time but is now the prevailing mentality within U.S. liberalism and the broader Democratic Party."  The war on terror was a dismal failure that ended with the Taliban returning to power in Afghanistan.  It also became deeply unpopular with the public.  Why, then, would Americans choose to empower the leaders and sages of that war to be the stewards of an even more expansive war against disinformation?  It is possible to venture a guess:  Americans did not choose them.  Americans are no longer presumed to have the right to choose their own leaders or to question decisions made in the name of national security.  Anyone who says otherwise can be labeled a domestic extremist.

House Judiciary FISA Hearing to Examine How Spy Powers Have Been 'Weaponized Against' Americans.  The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday will investigate how Section 702, a law that was designed to help combat terrorism, has been "weaponized against" Americans.  Breitbart News first reported that the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) ahead of Section 702's December reauthorization deadline. [...] A routine audit recently found that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of National Director of Intelligence (ODNI) of Section 702 use found that FBI agents often had political overtones for their search queries of the FISA database.  This includes "the names of a local political party" to see if it had links to foreign intelligence.  The Justice Department reportedly claimed that FBI personnel "misunderstood" the search procedures and that they were "subsequently reminded of how to correctly apply the query rules."

Time to Deal with Root Causes, Not Symptoms.  [Scroll down]  There have been many stories of domestic surveillance conducted by federal agencies, as well as the weaponizing of those agencies against political enemies of the Democrat Party.  Republicans in the House of Representatives are beginning to expose some of the abuses, but nobody is talking about dealing with the root cause that enabled the spying on Americans:  The Patriot Act of 2001.  Few people know that "Patriot" is an acronym that stands for "Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism."  And that euphemism means domestic surveillance!  The events of 9/11 stampeded Congress to unanimously pass the Act, which refocused the vast intelligence collection apparatus built to track the actions of potential adversaries onto US citizens for the first time — all in the interests of "anti-terrorism."  The result was weakened bank secrecy laws, new types of warrants on the flimsiest of excuses, and information collection by signals intelligence and electronic surveillance systems focused on Americans on our home soil.  Other increases in the government's surveillance powers are discussed [elsew]here.  Since 2001, the domestic surveillance apparatus has been politically weaponized to go after Democrat-defined terrorists, including "white supremacists," nationalists, and Trump supporters (refer to the continuing FBI investigations of J6 protestors).  A big part of the solution is to repeal the key root cause that opened the door for politicization of federal surveillance capabilities against Americans.  Time to repeal the Patriot Act.

People Behind Biden Announce Creation of Formal National Surveillance State, Yet No One Seems Bothered.  [Scroll down]  Barack Obama and Eric Holder did not create a weaponized DOJ and FBI; the institutions were already weaponized by the Patriot Act.  What Obama and Holder did was take the preexisting system and retool it, so the weapons of government only targeted one side of the political continuum. [...] In the era shortly after 9/11, the DC national security apparatus, instructed by Vice President Dick Cheney, was constructed to preserve continuity of government and simultaneously view all Americans as potential threats.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) were created specifically for this purpose.  After 9/11/01, the electronic surveillance system that was originally created to monitor threats from abroad was retooled to monitor threats inside our country.  That is when all of our electronic 'metadata' came under federal surveillance.  That inflection point, and the process that followed, was exactly what Edward Snowden tried to point out.  What Barack Obama and Eric Holder did with that new construct was refine the internal targeting mechanisms so that only their political opposition became the target of this new national security system.

The Politicization of the Department of Justice.  The tragic events of 9/11 marked a turning point in our nation's recent civil rights history.  First the terrorists attacked us — and then, in the name of national security, we began to attack ourselves.  It has become almost cliché to say that we live in a surveillance state, but we do.  Ever since Congress, on a fully bipartisan basis, enacted the Patriot Act six weeks after the attacks on 9/11, the ever-present eye of the government has been searching for new and creative ways to spy on American citizens.  The government has the technology to monitor all of our electronic devices, listen to our phone calls, and read our emails and text messages — all under the auspices of national security.  This special law designed for an emergency has become a permanent addition to the government's investigatory toolbox.  The unfortunate reality is that the bulk of the actions taken by law enforcement under the Patriot Act have almost nothing to do with combating terrorism.

Connections, Facebook Spies on Private Messages and DHS Uses Private Chats Against J6 Detainees.  This 'surveillance system' has been of great interest to CTH for several years, in part because it is a key aspect of the domestic intelligence system now operating as a functioning part of the Fourth Branch of Government.  The overwhelming majority of the investigative resources within the Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) are used in this whole of network monitoring system.  I cannot emphasize the importance of the connections enough.  Surveillance of domestic communication, to include surveillance of all social media platforms, is now the primary mission of DHS. The information is gathered by social media, funneled by direct portals into the DHS network then distributed to DOJ-NSD and FBI officials as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  This communication surveillance network is what DHS, created as an outcome of the Patriot Act, is all about.

The FBI's Apex Bureaucracy Is Dangerous.  Twenty years after the post-9/11 PATRIOT Act architecture redefined Americans' constitutional rights without amendment ratification or public permission, perhaps it is time for Americans to insist that federal officers once again deign to establish probable cause and execute valid warrants before they go snooping where they have not been invited.  Maybe it is time for citizens to recognize that with their silence and compliance, they have handed away a mountain's worth of personal liberty for an anthill's hollow promise that they would remain secure.  Any way you slice it, nothing about the expansive, entrenched, and cumbersome national security Deep State that exists today is remotely conducive to Americans' constitutional rights or personal liberties.  The surveillance state buttressed by the DOJ and FBI justifies its enduring need to violate Americans' privacy by disseminating waves of fear to the public and pretending that its existence, however unsavory, is critical for Americans' personal survival.  It is far past time for Americans to recognize this ruse as the con it is and reclaim their inherent freedoms.

The Citizenry's Willingness to Surrender their Freedoms Risks a Potential Dissolution or Civil War.  Over the past two decades, far too many citizens of the United States have willingly surrendered their rights and freedoms and now they are on the cusp of being unrestorable.  This erosion and voluntary forfeiture have empowered the ruling elites/radical left.  Ominous societal conditions have been created that risk national dissolution or a civil war.  Three events in the past twenty-one years have been the primary catalysts that have accelerated and exacerbated this seemingly irreversible outcome.  The first: the reaction to the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001; the second: the election of Barack Obama; and the third: the lockdown and medical tyranny of the Chinese Coronavirus Pandemic.  After the events of September 11, 2001, Congress, with no outcry from the populace and near unanimous agreement from both political parties, passed the Patriot Act and other legislation.  These laws expanded the definition of terrorism and the government's ability to define, at their whim, what "terrorism" is.  Further, the government was granted near unlimited power to combat whatever was defined as "terrorism."  Within less than ten years that power was turned against the American people and new catch phrases began to be used by the ruling class: "white supremacy" and "domestic terrorism".  A new era was spawned which allowed the government to use its newly acquired powers to spy on and intimidate innocent Americans at home and abroad.

Democrats Are Attempting To Jam Through A New Patriot Act That Will Target American Conservatives.  Democrats never let a good crisis go to waste.  After the tragic shooting in Buffalo that left ten dead and three injured, they are renewing calls to pass a bill that will expand the FBI and Department of Homeland Security's powers to investigate domestic terrorism.  Some Republicans were initially supportive of the bill, but after Democrats made a last-minute change to the definition of domestic terrorism that makes it extremely vague, most came out in opposition to it.  RINO warmonger Adam Kinzinger (R-Il.) was the sole Republican to vote in favor of the bill in the House.

FBI opened multiple investigations into protesting parents, GOP lawmakers say.  The FBI has opened multiple investigations into parents protesting education policies, including a father who was upset over mask mandates, according to new whistleblower revelations.  The FBI's activities were publicly revealed in a letter Wednesday from Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee to Attorney General Merrick Garland.  The specifics of the FBI's investigations were disclosed to lawmakers by whistleblowers.  Garland directed the FBI and the Department of Justice to form a joint task force in October 2021 to investigate threats against school board members after the National School Boards Association asked the Biden administration in a September 2021 letter to investigate parents protesting at school board meetings as domestic terrorists under the Patriot Act.

Jack's Magic Coffee Shop Reports 2nd Quarter Financials, Net Operating Loss of $128 Million.  [Scroll down]  After the Patriot Act was triggered, not coincidentally only six weeks after 9/11, a slow and dangerous fuse was lit that ends with the intelligence apparatus being granted a massive amount of power.  The problem with assembled power is always what happens when a Machiavellian network takes control over that power and begins the process to weaponize the tools for their own malicious benefit.  That is exactly what Barack Obama was all about.  The Obama network took pre-assembled intelligence weapons we should never have allowed to be created, and turned those weapons into tools for his radical and fundamental change.  The target was the essential fabric of our nation.  Ultimately, this corrupt political process gave power to create the Fourth Branch of Government, the Intelligence Branch.  From that perspective the fundamental change was successful.

My Hippie Vietnam War Professor Was Right About the Dangers of the Patriot Act.  [Scroll down]  Currently, the federal government is isolating and targeting very different enemies of the state than it was in 2001, to say the least.  Among these are soccer moms who don't like their sons being taught that their sex and skin color makes them guilty of some ancestral sin that justifies their having become the victims of perpetual discrimination in applying to college or a job.  They are fathers who don't like the idea that a 16-year-old boy who is pretending that he's a girl can share a shower with his 16-year-old daughter after volleyball practice.  They are parents who don't like that their elementary schoolchildren are being told that they may truly be something other than a boy or a girl, or that they should sexually experiment upon themselves.  They are racial minorities who don't like that their sons and daughters are being taught that they're perpetual victims in America, or that phantom impediments to success are oppressing them.  And many among all of those parents take issue with their children being taught that their race is anything more than an immutable trait that is profoundly unimportant relative to kindness, intelligence, work ethic, and what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to as "character" when relating his famous dream to the American people.  Today, the federal enforcement mechanisms meant to combat terrorism, including those of the Patriot Act, are being used against all of those Americans with whom a clear majority ideologically and politically agree.

How Did Ordinary American People Become Domestic Terrorists in The Eyes of The Deep State.  Barack Obama and Eric Holder did not create a weaponized DOJ and FBI; the institutions were already weaponized by the Patriot Act.  Instead, what Obama and Holder did was to take the preexisting system and retool it so the weapons of government only targeted one side of the political continuum. [...] What Barack Obama and Eric Holder did with that new construct was refine the internal targeting mechanisms so that only their ideological opposition became the target of the new national security system.  This is very important to understand as you dig deeper into this research outline.  Washington DC created the modern national security apparatus immediately and hurriedly after 9/11/01.  DHS came along in 2002, and within the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 the ODNI was formed.  When Barack Obama and Eric Holder arrived a few years later, those newly formed institutions were viewed as opportunities to create a very specific national security apparatus that would focus almost exclusively against their political opposition.

Every Tragedy Caused by Government Is Done with the Best of Intentions.  President Bush's "war on terror" in response to the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor not only led to two of the longest wars in U.S. history without producing clear-cut long-term victories but also initiated a mass surveillance state that is now used against Americans by the FBI, NSA, and U.S. military to target constitutionally protected political beliefs.

How Do We Regain Trust in the FBI?  A Pew Research study released last month demonstrated a sharp decline in trust in the government from a high of seventy-seven percent in 1964 to a low that has remained under twenty-five percent since 2007.  If three-quarters of Americans have spent the last fourteen years distrusting the government at large, what does that say about the agencies entrusted with justice and public safety? [...] The parallel between the FBI and the NKVD is not a straight line — at least, not yet.  At the same time, looking at the chronology of when Americans suddenly lost faith in their government (2007), an eerie set of circumstances predate the decline in trust.  The first development that hastened the consolidation of power and authority in federal agencies like the FBI was the Patriot Act of 2001.  It paved the way for expanded police powers in the name of public safety.

The New Domestic War on Terror Has Already Begun — Even Without the New Laws Biden Wants.  The Department of Homeland Security on Friday [5/28/2021] issued a new warning bulletin, alerting Americans that domestic extremists may well use violence on the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre.  This was at least the fourth such bulletin issued this year by Homeland Security (DHS) warning of the same danger and, thus far, none of the fears it is trying to instill into the American population has materialized. [...] Just like the first War on Terror, these threats are issued with virtually no specificity.  They are just generalized warnings designed to put people in fear about their fellow citizens and to justify aggressive deployment of military and law enforcement officers in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country.

Not a single person of honor or integrity can survive inside the DC institutions.  [Thread reader]  I still held the belief there were three branches of government, and there were "checks and balances", and there had to be some way for a good person to expose corruption.  He quickly dispatched those beliefs (with examples).  He explained the "checks and balances" I spoke of did exist at a time when there were three branches of government.  However, that time has long passed.  There is only one overarching DC eco-system now.  The three branch concept is gone.  Doesn't exist.  As he explained, the levers of power are all controlled by the same system, and behind that system are positions — not people.  "Positions."  People are evaluated based on their ability to support and protect the system.  Their skill level is what moves them into position.  Position.  Evaluation.  Next Position.  Evaluation.  Etc.  The system more like an institution.  Within the institution there are divisions.  The divisions are what we used to call "branches".  The divisions (branches) are not independent from the institution of DC.  The divisions are operated by people in power who hold positions.  He identified the timeline of this institutional creation as a slow build (over decades), but most visibly increasing in publicity after 9/11/01 and the patriot act.  Once the patriot act made the government responsible for total safety; the previously embedded bad actors took full control.  One office of particular note was the creation of the ODNI.  As he noted the amassing of surveillance power.  [O]nce that Rubicon was crossed, everything after was downstream and unstoppable.  The institution of the total intelligence apparatus now had full control...

Security Theater Redux.  After the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government employed various counterterrorism measures in an atmosphere of panic.  Some made sense and stood the test of time, such as vetting airline passengers or banning knives on planes.  Others were abandoned and memory-holed as ineffective and wasteful, like the Iraq Campaign.  The Right focused on the failure of security efforts to distinguish loyal and law-abiding Americans from high-risk groups.  The spectacle of children and grandmas being subjected to humiliating pat-downs at airports stands out as particularly galling.  The Left and the libertarians were wary of the expansive authority of intelligence agencies and the domestic use of the military.  In one instance, a tank was parked outside of Miami International Airport, as if al Qaeda would unleash an armored attack.  Critics labeled such dramatic and mostly symbolic efforts for what they were:  security theater.

Democrat Domestic Terrorism Can No Longer Be Ignored.  Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act defines "domestic terrorism" as activities involving acts in violation of state or federal criminal laws that are "dangerous to human life" and "appear to be intended" either to (i) "intimidate or coerce a civilian population," (ii) "influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion," or (iii) "affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping."  Intimidating a civilian population?  Coercing government officials?  Engaging in mass destruction and assassination of police?  Ding-ding-ding! [...] Democrat domestic terrorists light fires everywhere they go, egg on violence against police and civilians, and threaten businesses who refuse to pay into their protection rackets by "donating" to their favorite money-laundering 501(c)(3)s; and our criminal justice system looks the other way or even actively abets the terrorists by releasing them from jail cells just as soon as they arrive, while leaving Americans to fend for themselves.

Brainwashing & the New Vocabulary: 12 Words & Phrases I Never Want to Hear Again.  Remember how after September 11th happened, there was that nasty bill that formed the TSA and authorized all sorts of surveillance against the American people and they called it, ironically, The Patriot Act?  Of course, we knew then that the bill was anything but patriotic, however, that didn't stop it from being passed and trampling all over the Constitution.  The word "patriot" was perverted by those in power who wanted everyone to fall into lockstep with the unconstitutional searches at airports and many other invasions into our privacy.  Which brings us to another word that doesn't mean what people think it means — it was all done in the name of "security."

The Bushes Have Poisoned the Well Forever.  [Scroll down]  After Clinton's eight years were up, it was George W.'s turn to be President.  Although portrayed as a "conservative" like his dad and the rest of the GOP, he presided over massive spending binges, mostly on the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.  He also pushed the Patriot Act, the Republican version of Obamacare insofar as it was a massive bill that members of Congress admitted they didn't read, was rammed through and signed into law with little scrutiny and contained lots of horrible surprises for the American people.  It also had the effect of dramatically increasing the power of the federal government over the American people, effectively treating us all as terrorists and international criminals and stripping away our Constitutional rights.

How big is the terrorist watch list?  Who is on it?  What is often described as a single, unified list is actually a collection of lists, or databases, created or expanded under the George W. Bush administration to avoid the breakdowns in intelligence sharing that precipitated the September 11 terrorist attacks.  Here's how it breaks down:  The FBI's Terrorist Screening Database is the U.S. government's primary watch list, and what people usually mean when they refer to the terrorist watch list.  It contains about 1 million records.  About 5,000 of those records — 0.5 percent — are about Americans.  The screening database is subdivided into other lists.  The most well-known of these is the no-fly list, whose members are barred from commercial air travel that passes through the United States.  The no-fly list contains about 81,000 names, up from 16 on the eve of September 11, 2001.  About 1,000 are Americans.

How to Land on the Government Watch List.  [T]he U.S. Government's Consolidated Terrorist Watch List keeps track of people who are known or suspected terrorists.  These are the people the U.S. government doesn't want to board planes, enter the country or obtain a visa without a lot of hassle.  While the government makes no secret of the list's existence, its official contents are off-limits to the public.  That's because the federal government believes if terrorists are aware of being on a watch list, they will become more vigilant and tricky in committing heinous crimes.

72 Types Of Americans That Are Considered "Potential Terrorists" In Official Government Documents.  At one time, the term "terrorist" was used very narrowly.  The government applied that label to people like Osama bin Laden and other Islamic jihadists.  But now the Obama administration is removing all references to Islam from terror training materials, and instead the term "terrorist" is being applied to large groups of American citizens.  And if you are a "terrorist", that means that you have no rights and the government can treat you just like it treats the terrorists that are being held at Guantanamo Bay.  So if you belong to a group of people that is now being referred to as "potential terrorists", please don't take it as a joke.  The first step to persecuting any group of people is to demonize them.  And right now large groups of peaceful, law-abiding citizens are being ruthlessly demonized.

Patriot Act enabled Russia collusion hoax and further Deep State treachery.  In October of 2001, and following 9/11, President George W. Bush told the nation that the Patriot Act would "give intelligence and law enforcement officials important new tools to fight a present danger."  It was assumed — foolishly — that the threat was from terrorism.  But when and as reauthorized, the Patriot Act during the administration of President Barack Obama, Obama claimed that tweaks to the act would allow US law enforcement to better target homegrown "lone wolves."  Again, the assumption — a foolish one — assumed that the targets would largely be self-motivated terrorists.  Terrorists like Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  But leave it to official Washington to stretch any legal definitions beyond their original, intended scope.

FBI attempted to retroactively use the PATRIOT Act to sidestep FOIA.  The passage of the PATRIOT Act has been decried as one of the most widespread attempts by the government to overreach in order to bypass the judicial and legislative restrictions that had otherwise been placed on it.  The FBI file for former CIA Station Chief William F. Buckley details one such attempt, over a decade after his murder.  In late July of 2001, the FBI was responding to a FOIA request for the file on Buckley (no relation to the conservative commentator), the CIA station chief who had been kidnapped in Lebanon and later died as a result of the kidnapping.

The Imperial President's Toolbox of Terror:  A Dictatorship Waiting to Happen.  [Scroll down]  The Bush Administration claimed it could strip American citizens of their constitutional rights, imprison them indefinitely, and deny them legal representation simply by labeling them as enemy combatants.  While the Obama Administration jettisoned the use of the term "enemy combatant," it has persisted in defending the president's unilateral and global right to detain anyone suspected of supporting terrorist activities.

Engineered Chaos And Fear The New Norm In America As Many Assume The "Reality" Of Staged Events.  There was a time when there was actually a sense of normality all around us and there was a sense of justice and accountability at the government level even if it was mostly the perception of it. [...] There was even a time when you could comfortably plan on traveling pretty much anywhere in the world, especially here in the United States for business or pleasure without having to deal with the prospect of "terrorism" or another psyop mass shooting, terror truck drivers, snipers or lockdowns.  You also didn't have to worry about a violent police state, checkpoints, surveillance cameras, killer robots, government spying and 24/7 fear, death and destruction being put out by the mainstream media news.  There was a sense of order, in other words, that many of us still remember and we remember exactly what it felt like.  Obviously you can't miss something or yearn for the days you've never experienced.  This disconnect that the younger generation has to what some may refer to the good old days is important in the grand scheme of things because this chaos is all they know and it is a grand example of learned helplessness.  For the first time in modern American history we have a generation that doesn't know what order, calmness and peace looks like.

House reverses course, upholds NSA phone snooping as terrorist attacks shift debate.  The fight is over snooping programs targeting foreigners' communications under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but which also end up snaring Americans' emails and phone calls.  Intelligence agencies claim the right to go through that data when they are investigating terrorism and say it's critical to preventing plots or learning about the contours of attacks, such as the one in Orlando, as they happen.  Civil libertarians argue that the data shouldn't be collected in the first place and say if agents are going to peer into it, they should get a warrant before looking at Americans' data under Section 702.

6 Things To Know About Tying Gun Sales To A Watch List.  [#5] Hillary Clinton's 'Spirit of 9/12' is the specter of pervasive government surveillance.  It is true that in the shocked days after 9/11, the two major sides of American politics came together for a brief moment.  But their response went too far.  During this period of unity, Congress authorized an indefinite military action in Southwest Asia that almost 15 years later stretches across the Middle East and into Africa with no end in sight.  During this period of unity, Clinton and 97 other senators came together to pass the USA PATRIOT Act, which established a surveillance regime that took civil libertarians more than a decade to dismantle.  In light of these previous terrorism overreactions, the burden is on the individuals demanding that we do something (anything!) to demonstrate that their proposals are reasonable and include responsible safeguards for constitutionally protected rights.

Congress Must Shut the Backdoor on Section 702 Surveillance.  The fight over NSA surveillance is about to heat up again.  This week, the House will consider a measure that would require the NSA and other government agencies to follow due process and obtain a warrant to collect the communications of American citizens.  Through an amendment to H.R. 5293, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017, the House could defund warrantless government searches of the database of information collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  The amendment, proposed by Reps.  Massie (R-Ky.), Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Poe (R-Texas), would prevent the NSA's backdoor spying on American citizens through the use of U.S. person identifiers.  The Massie-Lofgren-Poe amendment also prohibits government agencies from requesting that U.S. companies build security vulnerabilities into their hardware or software in order to make it easier for the government to access them.  This would protect encryption, which has been undermined by the NSA's breathtaking extension of surveillance.

Four librarians gagged and threatened with prison time under the Patriot Act.  Using the broad powers granted under the USA PATRIOT Act, the FBI demanded that 4 librarians produce private information about library patrons' reading habits, then used an endless gag order to force them to remain silent about the request for the rest of their lives under penalty of prison time.

Obama: yes we scan
CISA Is Now The Law: How Congress Quietly Passed The Second Patriot Act.  Why was the CISA included in the omnibus package, which just passed both the House and the Senate?  Because any "nay" votes [...] would also threaten the entire budget of the federal government.  In other words, it was a question of either Americans keeping their privacy or halting the funding of the US government, in effect bankrupting the nation.  And best of all, the rushed bill means there will be no debate.  The bottom line as OTI's Robyn Green said, "They've got this bill that's kicked around for years and had been too controversial to pass, so they've seen an opportunity to push it through without debate.  And they're taking that opportunity."  The punchline:  "They're kind of pulling a Patriot Act."  And when Obama signs the $1.1 trillion Spending Bill in a few hours, as he will, it will be official:  the second Patriot Act will be the law, and with it what little online privacy US citizens may enjoy, will be gone.

Agents performing warrantless searches are the hallmark of totalitarianism.  In an effort to draw attention away from the intelligence failures that permitted the attacks of 9/11 and create the impression that it was doing something — anything — to avoid a repeat, the federal government tampered seriously with freedoms expressly guaranteed in the Constitution.  Its principal target was the right to privacy, which is protected in the Fourth Amendment.  At President George W. Bush's urging, Congress passed the Patriot Act in October 2001.  This 315-page statute passed the House of Representatives with no debate, and there was very limited debate in the Senate.  I have asked many members of Congress over the years whether they read this bill before they voted upon it, and I have yet to find a member who did.  In the House, that would have been impossible; the bill was made available to representatives only 15 minutes prior to their vote.

The Phony Surveillance Debate.  If any terrorists are reading this column, now would be a good time to turn on C-Span 2.  For the next few days, you guys got it made.  Section 215 of the Patriot Act has expired and the Senate has only just started debating the bill that would renew and tailor these authorities.  So if you suspect you might be under investigation, go ahead and switch burner phones.  No more roving wiretaps.  Feel free to contact any compatriots inside the United States on a landline.  No more bulk collection of telephone metadata.  Gather ye rosebuds.  Carpe diem.  This at least is what the White House and others would have you believe.

The Patriot Act must go: It assaults our freedoms, doesn't keep us safe.  [Scroll down]  After the House Judiciary Committee took all this into account in its redrafting of the proposed Patriot Act, the House Republican leadership and the George W. Bush White House pulled a fast one.  They switched the painstakingly negotiated version of the Patriot Act for the original version and posted the original version on the House intranet, and leadership scheduled a vote within the hour of posting.  It is safe to say that no member of the House read the Patriot Act in that hour.  It takes about 20 hours to read, as it is hundreds of pages in length, and it amends dozens of prior statutes that also must be read.  Most House members clearly never knew what they were authorizing.  The only negotiated-for provision that survived the switch was the sunset provision of section 215.  Section 215 only authorizes the feds to write their own search warrants for business records and for surveillance of so-called lone-wolf terrorists no matter what telephone they may use.  The Bush and Obama administrations secretly persuaded the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court that somehow section 215 also permitted the NSA to acquire bulk data from telephone and computer use based on the government's needs, not based on probable cause.

White House: 'There is no plan B' if Patriot Act powers expire.  The White House said Friday [5/29/2015] there is "no plan B" if key Patriot Act powers expire at midnight Sunday [5/31/2015].  Administration officials pressed Senate leaders — currently on a weeklong Memorial Day recess — to return to Washington and immediately pass legislation that would extend most government surveillance tools but also would take steps to protect Americans' privacy.  "There is no plan B.  There is no executive action the president can take to give our law enforcement and national security professionals all the tools they need," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

FBI admits no major cases [have been] cracked with Patriot Act snooping powers.  FBI agents can't point to any major terrorism cases they've cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department's inspector general said in a report Thursday [5/21/2015] that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.  Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

House Votes to End N.S.A.'s Bulk Phone Data Collection.  The House on Wednesday [5/13/2015] overwhelmingly approved legislation to end the federal government's bulk collection of phone records, exerting enormous pressure on Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who insists that existing dragnet sweeps continue in defiance of many of those in his Republican Party.  Under the bipartisan bill, which passed 338 to 88, the Patriot Act would be changed to prohibit bulk collection by the National Security Agency of metadata charting telephone calls made by Americans.  In addition, the legislation would bar permitting bulk collection of records using other tools like so-called national security letters, which are a kind of administrative subpoena.

Why the EFF is pulling its support for the USA Freedom Act.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has determined in American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) v. Clapper that the National Security Agency's telephone records program went far beyond what Congress authorized when it passed Section 215 of the Patriot Act in 2001.  The court unequivocally rejected the government's secret reinterpretation of Section 215.  Among many important findings, the court found that Section 215's authorization of the collection of business records that are "relevant to an authorized investigation" could not be read to include the dragnet collection of telephone records.  The court also took issue with the fact that this strained application of the law was accomplished in secret and approved by the secret and one-sided Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court).

Security officials, surveillance hawks get busy with fearmongering ahead of Patriot Act deadline.  The June 1 deadline for Congress to renew portions of the Patriot Act that authorize the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs is drawing near.  For top government officials and many establishment Republicans, that means it's time to double down on homeland security fearmongering.

White House report offers more on NSA spying on Americans' calls, with Patriot Act set to expire.  With debate gearing up over the coming expiration of the Patriot Act surveillance law, the Obama administration on Saturday [4/25/2015] unveiled a 6-year-old report examining the once-secret program to collect information on Americans' calls and emails.  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence publicly released the redacted report following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the New York Times.  The basics of the National Security Agency program had already been declassified, but the lengthy report includes some new details about the secrecy surrounding it.

Renew the Patriot Act.  Many observers postulate that Muslims in America are inherently different than those in Europe, hence they don't need surveillance.  Here they are assimilated, there they are separate.  I'm not so sure — America has had plenty of trouble with radical Muslims:  from the Boston Marathon bombers; from Muslims weaned in radical mosques in Minnesota joining Jihad; from the Fort Hood shooter in Texas, and on.  Perhaps the biggest difference is that in Europe Muslim immigrants represent a far greater proportion of the population; for example, about 10% in France.

16 Reasons Why the United States is Going to Hell in a Handbasket.  [#5]  We have been seeing a decline in freedom for a longtime but after 9-11 the loss personal freedom, privacy and constitutional rights have been on a rapid decline.  Now we are constantly, watched, monitored and recorded, we can now legally be detained and held indefinitely without a trial or due process.  And U.S. citizens can even be assassinated on U.S. soil by order of the president.  Just like the imaginary, war on drugs, the war on terror has been used as an excuse to trample on individual constitutional rights and to increase the power of the government and the ultra wealthy that control the country from behind the curtains.

How a Court Secretly Evolved, Extending U.S. Spies' Reach.  Ten months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the nation's surveillance court delivered a ruling that intelligence officials consider a milestone in the secret history of American spying and privacy law.  Called the "Raw Take" order — classified docket No. 02-431 — it weakened restrictions on sharing private information about Americans, according to documents and interviews.  The administration of President George W. Bush, intent on not overlooking clues about Al Qaeda, had sought the July 22, 2002, order.  It is one of several still-classified rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court described in documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

Spy Chief: We Should've Told You We Track Your Calls.  Even the head of the U.S. intelligence community now believes that its collection and storage of millions of call records was kept too secret for too long.  The American public and most members of Congress were kept in the dark for years about a secret U.S. program to collect and store such records of American citizens on a massive scale.  The government's legal interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act that granted the authority for this dragnet collection was itself a state secret.

Ruling Protects Bank, Phone, Other Records from FBI 'Security Letters'.  A federal judge in San Francisco has declared "national security letters" from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to banks, phone companies, and other businesses to be unconstitutional.  The March 15 ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared the letters do not "serve the compelling need of national security."  The FBI has been issuing thousands of letters annually on its own authority and with no judicial review to obtain confidential customer information.  The letters also order the companies not to disclose the demands for information to targeted customers or others.  The FBI began issuing the letters after the USA Patriot Act became law in 2011.

The Drift toward Despotism.  [Scroll down]  But one notes that the Supreme Court has dramatically circumscribed Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure when it occurs at America's border, and post-9/11 the "border" has been redefined to mean anywhere within 100 miles of the actual frontier.  Many European countries are not 100 miles wide in their entirety.  A hundred-mile buffer zone from Belgium's northern border, for example, would be well south of the southern border and deep into France.

NSA director admits to misleading public on terror plots.  In so many words, NSA director Keith Alexander admitted Wednesday [10/2/2013] that the Obama administration had issued misleading information about terror plots and their foiling to bolster support for the government's vast surveillance apparatus.  During Wednesday's [10/2/2013] hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pushed Alexander to admit that plot numbers had been fudged in a revealing interchange: [...]

Court Reveals 'Secret Interpretation' Of The Patriot Act, Allowing NSA To Collect All Phone Call Data.  The FISA Court (FISC) today [9/17/2013] released a heavily redacted version of its July ruling approving the renewal of the bulk metadata collection on all phone calls from US phone providers under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.  This is part of the "secret interpretation" as to how the FISC interprets the Patriot Act's "business records" or "tangible things" section to mean that the government can order a telco to turn over pretty much all records — even as the very author of the law says it was written specifically to not allow this interpretation.

Govt to declassify some secret court opinions.  The Justice Department is declassifying portions of some secret court orders concerning the government's authority to seize records under the Patriot Act.

The IRS, the NSA, and Obama's Dirty Tricks.  [President Obama] can't blame the Patriot Act on President Bush:  the act expired in March 2011; Congressional Democrats had to vote to keep the Patriot Act and Obama had to approve its reauthorization.  Additionally, Section 215 of the Patriot Act clearly states that only phone calls or other communication with a foreign connection can be tapped.  There is no authorization to tap into electronic communications between domestic residents of the U.S.

Why you should worry about the NSA.  My concerns are twofold.  First, the law under which President George W. Bush and now President Obama have acted was not intended to give the government records of all telephone calls.  If that had been the intent, the law would have said that.  It didn't.  Rather, the law envisioned the administration coming to a special court on a case-by-case basis to explain why it needed to have specific records.  I am troubled by the precedent of stretching a law on domestic surveillance almost to the breaking point.  On issues so fundamental to our civil liberties, elected leaders should not be so needlessly secretive.

The Founders warned us.  As Congress and the White House pasted together and passed the so-called Patriot Act in the aftermath of the 2001 attack on the New York World Trade Center, a few conservatives raised questions about the degree to which the nation seemed ready "to trade liberty for security."  Those questions fell on deaf ears as leaders of both parties concluded that a level of government intrusion and "more flexible" interpretations of the Constitution's civil liberties protections were in order.

This abuse of the Patriot Act must end.  "Big Brother" is watching.  And he is monitoring the phone calls and digital communications of every American, as well as of any foreigners who make or receive calls to or from the United States. [...] The administration claims authority to sift through details of our private lives because the Patriot Act says that it can.  I disagree.

FBI sharply increases use of Patriot Act provision to collect US citizens' records.  The FBI has dramatically increased its use of a controversial provision of the Patriot Act to secretly obtain a vast store of business records of U.S. citizens under President Barack Obama, according to recent Justice Department reports to Congress.  The bureau filed 212 requests for such data to a national security court last year — a 1,000-percent increase from the number of such requests four years earlier, the reports show.

FBI requests for records under Patriot Act have increased 1,000% in just four years; Update: Data-mining goes deeper than thought?  It's not just the number of requests, it's the scope of them.  They're not demanding records related to particular investigations anymore, they're demanding huge troves of records on random Americans for data-mining purposes, the same thing Patriot Act co-author Jim Sensenbrenner complained about a few days ago but somehow didn't foresee in 2001.

Sensenbrenner: Obama Administration's NSA Assurances 'a Bunch of Bunk'.  Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced the PATRIOT Act on the House floor in 2001, has declared that lawmakers' and the executive branch's excuses about recent revelations of NSA activity are "a bunch of bunk."  In an interview on Laura Ingraham's radio show Wednesday morning, [6/12/2013] the Republican congressman from Wisconsin reiterated his concerns that the administration and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court have gone far beyond what the PATRIOT Act intended.  Specifically, he said that Section 215 of the act "was originally drafted to prevent data mining" on the scale that's occurred.

A Little Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin.  [Scroll down]  Just like those unpleasant chaps in Orwell's 1984, the fact that we are now and apparently ever shall be on a war footing means that we are living in a state of perpetual emergency, which in turn means that he, the man in charge, can do pretty much whatever he wants to whomever he wants, and so can his minions. [...] Few people, I think, would deny that extraordinary situations call for extraordinary measures. [...] But what we have here is the fabrication of perpetual emergency in order to justify the unlimited and permanent expansion of of government power.  The other word for that process is tyranny.  It doesn't happen all at once.  But it's happening pretty fast.

The Patriot Act is merely a fig leaf to cover what tyrants would do anyway.
Document: Sen. Obama Opposed 'Government Fishing Expeditions' Under Patriot Act.  A "Dear Colleague" letter signed by then-Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in 2005 urged an end to "government fishing expeditions" under Section 215 of the Patriot Act to gather records on American citizens indiscriminately.  The letter was also signed by eight other Senators, including John Kerry (D-MA) and Chuck Hagel (R-ND), who currently serve in President Obama's Cabinet as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, respectively.

Washington's dark secrets.  [Scroll down]  Moreover, because of rules governing classified information, members of Congress were strictly limited in what they could say publicly.  Wyden and Udall, both members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, grew increasingly worried about the government's interpretation and application of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which greatly expanded the government's ability to collect information, but they could do no more than publicly hint at their concerns.  As a result, their warnings went largely ignored by the public, which couldn't decipher them.  This gets to the broader issue of what the public deserves to know.

'Fascism!': The Five's Beckel Explodes At Obama Administration Over 'Deplorable' NSA Phone Records Grab.  "I think it is one of the most outrageous examples of the stepping on the Constitution I've heard," Beckel began.  "They have no right to the phone records...  It is illegal, it is unconstitutional and it is deplorable.  I didn't like it when they did it during the Bush administration and I don't like when they're doing it now."  "They have taken this PATRIOT Act, which I think was the most dangerous act passed, and they have taken it and abused it," Beck added.

Author of Patriot Act says NSA phone records collection 'never the intent' of law.  The author of the Patriot Act said Thursday [6/6/2013] that a secret program under which the Obama administration was collecting phone records from millions of Americans is "excessive" and beyond the scope of the law.  Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who wrote the 2001 law, was among a host of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who raised alarm over the practice.

The Editor says...
If you can't foresee unintended consequences, you shouldn't write laws.

Thank You for Data-Mining.  Well, another day, another Washington furor.  This one is over a National Security Agency phone data monitoring program, but unlike the other White House scandals there seems to be little here that is scandalous.  The existence of the program was exposed years ago and such surveillance is a core part of the war on terror, if we can still use that term.

President Obama's Dragnet.  [Scroll down]  The administration has now lost all credibility.  Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.  That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the 9/11 attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.  Based on an article in The Guardian published Wednesday night [6/5/2013], we now know the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency used the Patriot Act to obtain a secret warrant to compel Verizon's business services division to turn over data on every single call that went through its system.

Ruling Protects Bank, Phone, Other Records from FBI 'Security Letters'.  A federal judge in San Francisco has declared "national security letters" from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to banks, phone companies, and other businesses to be unconstitutional.  The March 15 ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared the letters do not "serve the compelling need of national security."  The FBI has been issuing thousands of letters annually on its own authority and with no judicial review to obtain confidential customer information.  The letters also order the companies not to disclose the demands for information to targeted customers or others.  The FBI began issuing the letters after the USA Patriot Act became law in 2011.

Obama Continues His War on the Fourth Amendment.  The Patriot Act — written in defiance of the Constitution and in ignorance of our history — permits federal agents to write their own search warrants, just as the king and Parliament had permitted British soldiers to do.  Those agent-written search warrants are intended to be limited to the search for evidence of terror plots and are theoretically limited to the seizure of physical records in the custody of third parties, like lawyers, doctors, hospitals, billing clerks, telephone and Internet carriers, and even the Post Office.  (Did you know that federal agents can see your mail and your legal and medical records without permission from a judge?)  This abominable piece of legislation sacrificed freedom for safety and enhanced neither.

When the government demands silence.  [Scroll down]  In our own post-Sept. 11 era, the chief instrument of repression of personal freedom has been the government's signature anti-terrorism legislation, the Patriot Act.  It was born in secrecy, as members of the House of Representatives were given 15 minutes to read its 300 pages before voting on it in October 2001, and it operates in silence, as those who suffer under it cannot speak about it.  The Patriot Act permits FBI agents to write their own search warrants and gives those warrants the patriotic and harmless-sounding name of national security letters (NSLs).  This authorization is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution [...]

The grand illusion of partisan politics.  [Scroll down]  As an American caught up in the fervor and need for justice in response to the 9/11 attacks, I'll admit that I accepted and supported the passage of the various laws and formation of the different agencies, from the Patriot Act to the Department of Homeland Security.  I'll take full responsibility for my errors in judgment.  Once I was able to shake off the initial shock of the event and conduct my own research into the larger agenda, I was able to see that we were, and still are, being lied to by elected officials on both sides of the political spectrum.

Congressional Abdication.  Perhaps the greatest changes in our defense posture and in the ever-decreasing role of Congress occurred in the years following the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil of September 11, 2001.  Powers quickly shifted to the presidency as the call went up for centralized decision making in a traumatized nation where quick, decisive action was considered necessary.  It was considered politically dangerous and even unpatriotic to question this shift, lest one be accused of impeding national safety during a time of war. [...] Hundreds of billions of dollars were voted for again and again in barely examined "emergency" supplemental appropriations for programs to support our ever-expanding military operations.

Who (or What) Are They Looking For?  In response to the events of September 11, 2000 and after designating an axis of evil yet carefully navigating around the question of Islam and its fanatics, the federal government in Washington rushed to increase surveillance and security measures to guard against Al-Qaeda and the threat of terrorism.  We, the citizens who are not responsible for terrorism, are saddled 12 years later with the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Safety Administration and a surveillance technology that is everywhere, all the time.  Nine trillion dollars later are we more secure?

Once You're On the 'List,' You Can't Get Off.  TransUnion had notified the dealership that [Sandra] Cortez's name was on the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control list owing to its resemblance to a "specially designated individual" from Colombia named Sandra Cortez Quintera.  This was obviously a coincidence involving a very common Latino name.  However, under the so-called USA PATRIOT Act, businesses such as the John Elway Subaru dealership in Denver face draconian fines and prison sentences for extending credit to anyone suspected of terrorist connections.

Too Much Bipartisanship.  The 112th Congress has not been a bright one for our civil liberties.  While new champions have emerged like Rand Paul and Mike Lee in the Senate and House freshmen like Justin Amash, in national security state matters, the majority of both parties are in agreement.  First, there was the so-called "Patriot" Act reauthorization.  After a drawn out fight over 2011, the statists extended three controversial provisions until 2015.  Then came the FY 2012 NDAA and Section 1021 authorizing indefinite detention of American citizens, effectively turning America into a "battlefield" where anyone captured may be considered an enemy combatant.

Government Spying Out of Control.  The Patriot Act, which was enacted in 2001 and permits federal agents to write their own search warrants in violation of the Fourth Amendment, actually amended FISA so as to do away with the FISA-issued search warrant requirement when the foreign person is outside the U.S.  This means that if you email or call your cousin in Europe or a business colleague in Asia, the feds are reading or listening, without a warrant, without suspicion, without records and without evidence of anything unlawful.  The Patriot Act amendments to FISA also permit the feds to use anything they see or hear while spying in a federal court.

Adams 2016.  Sometimes emergencies necessitate government action.  The problem is that once the emergencies pass, the government apparatus stays in place.  Income taxes and other permanent solutions to temporary problems have plagued us for far too long (and they have been used to fuel further government expansion).  The PATRIOT act is also interfering with my efforts to reduce the entanglement between our government and our banking system.  Therefore, it must go.

Feds Sue Telecom for Fighting Warrantless Search.  The Justice Department is suing a telecommunications company for challenging a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for customer information — despite the fact that the law authorizing the request explicitly permits such challenges. [...] Clearly the Justice Department is unaccustomed to having to defend its attempts to obtain customer data on its own say-so; and it isn't taking this fight lying down.

Covert FBI Power to Obtain Phone Data Faces Rare Test.  Early last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a secret letter to a phone company demanding that it turn over customer records for an investigation.  The phone company then did something almost unheard of:  It fought the letter in court.  The U.S. Department of Justice fired back with a serious accusation.  It filed a civil complaint claiming that the company, by not handing over its files, was interfering "with the United States' sovereign interests" in national security.  The legal clash represents a rare and significant test of an investigative tool strengthened by the USA Patriot Act, the counterterrorism law enacted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The NDAA Repeals More Rights.  Little by little, in the name of fighting terrorism, our Bill of Rights is being repealed.  The 4th Amendment has been rendered toothless by the PATRIOT Act. ... Innocent people are wrongly accused all the time.  The Bill of Rights is there precisely because the founders wanted to set a very high bar for the government to overcome in order to deprive an individual of life or liberty.  To lower that bar is to endanger everyone.  When the bar is low enough to include political enemies, our descent into totalitarianism is virtually assured.

The Hitman Cometh.  When the first citizen was felled by President Obama's new citizen assassination program, the act was lauded by members of both parties as a tough and needed measure to successfully prosecute the war on terror.  I counseled that this new and self-declared power would quickly morph into something dangerous to both democratic dialogue and the expression of ideas, potentially putting anyone with the temerity to criticize the President at risk.  Since no one has seen the names of the persons supposedly on the classified "hit list," there is no accountability in the way the new program is leveraged or organized.

Obama, the Hitman: Killing Due Process.  [Scroll down]  The present move of the Obama administration towards KGB-style assassination of U.S. citizens should be regarded with close scrutiny.  Many warned that one day very soon, the PATRIOT Act and its sister legislation would be used against American citizens.  The broad and ambiguous language found in the PATRIOT Act gives the president, whoever that may be, the power to determine what is and is not "terror." ... Everything that follows is contingent on this loose definition — i.e. warrantless wiretapping, warrantless entry, human tracking, access to bank statements and phone records, access to internet records, "enhanced" interrogation, and now assassination. ... Even the philosophical basis of the PATRIOT Act is flawed.  If citizens are found conspiring against the United States, a provision already exists in the Constitution to address it.

New Patriot Act Controversy:
Is Washington Collecting Your Cell-Phone Data?  The FBI can order a private company to turn over data as long as the bureau can convince a special national-security court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, that the information is "relevant" to antiterrorism work.  Obama Administration officials emphasize that this review by the intelligence court is an important step in protecting privacy.  Privacy advocates, however, consider it little more than a rubber stamp.  "'Relevant' means some noncrazy reason for asking for it," said the Cato Institute's Julian Sanchez, who believes the government is using that authority to sweep up huge amounts of communications data.

Tweeting the word 'drill' could mean your Twitter account is read by U.S. government spies.  The Department of Homeland Security makes fake Twitter and Facebook profiles for the specific purpose of scanning the networks for 'sensitive' words — and tracking people who use them.  Simply using a word or phrase from the DHS's 'watch' list could mean that spies from the government read your posts, investigate your account, and attempt to identify you from it, acccording to an online privacy group.

Could the U.S. Government Start Reading Your Emails?  Cherie Anderson runs a travel company in southern California, and she's convinced the federal government is reading her emails.  But she's all right with that.  "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says.  "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."

The Editor says...
Spice up your email with drug slang, and you can be sure they're reading your email.

Patriot Act Miracle.  While the liberal blogosphere is still peddling the Big Brother meme, the Obama Administration is now in full-throated support.  Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month that it is "absolutely essential" that the provisions be reauthorized...

Obama, in Europe, signs Patriot Act extension.  Minutes before a midnight deadline, President Barack Obama signed into law a four-year extension of post-Sept. 11 powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists.

Obama resides on the outskirts of the law.
ROBAMA: Is It OK for a President to Autopen a Bill Into Law?  With the Patriot Act set to expire last night, President Obama signed legislation extending it — from France — as first reported by ABC News.  How did he do that?  Using an autopen, of course.  Is that allowed?

Congressman questions Patriot Act "autopen" signature.  Republican Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia sent President Obama a letter today questioning the constitutionality of the president's use of a device called an autopen to sign into law an extension of the Patriot Act.  Congress passed the bill Thursday night, shortly before certain provisions of the Patriot Act were set to expire.  However, Mr. Obama could not sign the bill right away in person, since he was in Europe for the G8 Summit.  In order to sign the bill before the measures expired, he authorized the use of the autopen machine, which holds a pen and signs his actual signature.

Obama "Signs" Patriot Act Extension From Afar — Via Autopen.  On Thursday, May 6 Congress passed a four-year extension of the unconstitutional powers included in the Patriot Act.  These unprecedented powers include allowing the federal government to search records and use wiretaps of terrorism suspects without satisfying the conditions of the Fourth Amendment.  The House of Representatives and the Senate rushed the votes through their respective bodies, following the futile, though noble, efforts of several of their colleagues to prevent the passage of this post-9/11 package of unconstitutional measures.  In the name of fighting the Global War on Terror and keeping the "homeland" safe, the protections placed by the Constitution around the civil liberties of Americans were removed, the parchment barrier shredded by the purveyors of fear.

If a machine can sign for the President, could Sasha, too?  Forget what you learned in civics class back in high school.  It turns out a bill doesn't have to be signed by the president to become law.  A machine can sign it for him.  Pres. Obama was 3,700 miles from the White House at the G8 Summit in Deauville, France, when Congress voted final passage of a bill to extend the life of three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, provisions deemed important by the president.

President's fidelity to oath on autopilot?  In recent weeks, Mr. Obama has tested the limits of constitutionality by becoming the first president to approve legislation by autopen, rather than signing it himself. ... The autopen was used last month on a bill to extend the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act.  On Friday [6/17/2011], a group of 21 House Republicans wrote the president and asked him to re-sign the legislation in person, just to remove all doubt.

        "'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded."
F.A. Hayek               

Reid, Boehner Reach Deal On Four Year Patriot Act Extension.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have agreed to a deal on a four-year extension of the Patriot Act, the Associated Press reports.  Officials in both parties told the AP that the deal between Reid and Boehner calls for a quick vote.  Closure on the motion to proceed on the Patriot Act will take place at 5 p.m. on Monday, Reid said on the floor of the Senate late Thursday [5/19/2011].

GOP seeks six-year extension of Patriot Act surveillance.  House Republicans last week introduced a bill that would extend expiring Patriot Act surveillance authorities for six years, until the end of 2017.  The bill would allow intelligence agencies to continue conducting three types of activities:  roving surveillance, the collection of business documents and other tangible materials, and surveillance of "lone wolf" operators, who are not acting against the U.S. as part of an established terrorist group.

Is Barack Obama George W. Bush?  Now that Barack Obama has adopted many of Bush's foreign policies and exceeded him in economic irresponsibility, is Obama the same as Bush?  Excepting the issues of abortion and gays in the military, there has been very little practical difference in the politics of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, from immigration (both have espoused amnesty) to the Bush Tax Cuts to the Patriot Act.  There was a time when liberals like Rosie O'Donnell equated the Patriot Act with Apartheid, when blacks in South Africa were forbidden the right to an attorney by white government officials.  Yet Obama, our first black president, has extended and expanded Bush's Orwellian Patriot Act.

Ron Paul slams Patriot Act, backers drown out jeers at conference.  Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) elicited the loudest reaction of any speaker so far at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday [2/11/2011], with a throng of raucous supporters drowning out audible boos emanating from the CPAC crowd.  Paul didn't disappoint, offering a fiery speech that took on the Patriot Act and military spending and lamented bipartisanship in Washington.

In a Surprise, House Fails to Pass PATRIOT Act Extensions.  Deserting and embarrassing their GOP House leadership, 26 Republicans — including several members of the Tea Party Caucus — bolted Tuesday night to join Democrats in a surprise rejection of a centerpiece of Bush-era powers to fight terrorism that curbed American civil liberties.

Patriot Act needs diligence.  A miscalculation in a whip count falsely indicated the measure could pass under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds vote rather than a simple majority.  There's virtually no debate or deliberation, and the measure is tossed in with a handful of other supposedly minor bills that require little more than perfunctory floor action.  But even if a whip count had shown at least two-thirds of the U.S. House supporting reauthorization, should something as critical and controversial as extending the Patriot Act be approached in such a cavalier manner?

FBI agents seek the right to tap texts, emails and websites.  US intelligence services would be allowed to tap text messages, emails and networking websites under new powers being considered by Barack Obama's administration.

Coddling terrorists with the Patriot Act.  Instead of protecting civil liberties, the Justice Department is wasting money coddling prison inmates, including convicted terrorists.  A report released by the department's inspector general last week examined implementation of a section of the USA Patriot Act that requires the evaluation and, if necessary, investigation of claims of civil rights or civil liberties violations allegedly committed by Justice employees. ... Instead of serving as a reasonable limitation on a sweeping law, the provision in practice has become a magnet for trivial and often unfounded complaints.

DOJ Pushing to Expand Warrantless Access to Internet Records.  This morning's Washington Post reveals that the Department Of Justice has been pressuring Congress to expand its power to obtain records of Americans' private Internet activity through the use of National Security Letters (NSLs).  NSLs, you may remember, are one of the most powerful and frightening tools of government surveillance to be expanded by the Patriot Act.

Let's start with a Patriot Act success story:
Terror Averted.  What is notable about the Riverdale plotters — James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen — is that they were not trained in overseas camps, nor were they radicalized by a large terror cell.  Instead, they are U.S. and Caribbean natives who converted to Islam in prison.  Equally significant is that their surveillance by the FBI, and later their successful apprehension, owes a great deal to the preventative measures of the much-maligned Patriot Act.  One such measure enables investigators to obtain suspect records from third parties, such as travel and telephone records, without notifying the subject.  The second is a provision that enables law enforcement officials to obtain one warrant for multiple electronic devices.  Both these measures likely contributed to the FBI's success in foiling the Riverdale terror plot.

And another one:
The Zazi plea and the Patriot Act:  Obama supporters will use the [Zazi] case to support civilian trials for Gitmo detainees.  Before they make that leap, they need to acknowledge how the case against Zazi was built.  Remember:  If you can't collect the dots, you can't connect the dots.

Endless loop alert:  This article refers back to this page.
"1984" and Increasing Government Control.  Strong supporters of the USA Patriot Act suggest few freedoms might need to be sacrificed to ensure the public safety, however, the government could one day use the USA Patriot Act to gain power over the people; this would be the worst case scenario for Americans because of the high value placed on individualism that is protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Liar.  The electorate is waking up and unlike Carter's days, they have a ready source of rapid information.  Perhaps this is why Obama has begun expanding the Patriot Act so he can act against US Citizens by claiming that they are "domestic terrorists".  I find it interesting that a party that is so quick to cry "privacy is a right" found it important to eliminate that right in Obama's extension.  It should also be noted that the extension was largely bipartisan.

Shhhhh, Don't Tell Anyone — The Patriot Act Was Reauthorized.  After a lot of huffing and puffing, about the need to add more civil-liberties protections to a law already teeming with them, the Democrat-controlled Senate quietly voted to extend the three Patriot Act provisions that would have expired without reauthorization.  Although beating back Patriot and its sensible national-security provisions has been a rallying cry for the Left, Senate Democrats agreed to a clean reauthorization on a voice-vote.

The coming of an American Reichstag?  While published reports confirm that Capitol Police have been contacted and are addressing security concerns of lawmakers and the incidents of vandalism, the involvement of federal agencies has not been publicly disclosed, nor will it likely be on any official level.  The reason, according to this source, is that high-level discussions between top lawmakers and agency heads are "exploring the application of the Patriot Act against any right-wing individual or group that poses a danger to government operations."

EFF Demands Records on PATRIOT Act Effectiveness, Lawfulness, and Misuse.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit today against the Department of Justice (DOJ), demanding records on three controversial PATRIOT Act surveillance provisions that expire early next year unless Congress renews them.  EFF is seeking the immediate release of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports on the provisions' effectiveness, lawfulness, and potential misuse in a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The ACLU Goes AWOL.  When George W. Bush was president, the ACLU and its liberal allies were driven nearly berserk by the possibility that the FBI might know what library books Americans had borrowed.  Under the terms of the health care legislation that President Obama signed into law earlier today, the IRS will have access to all of our most intimate medical records — and not one peep from the ACLU or anyone else on the Democratic side of the aisle in either the House or the Senate.

Senate votes to extend USA Patriot Act for 1 year.  The Senate voted Wednesday [2/24/2010] to extend for a year key provisions of the nation's counterterrorism surveillance law that are scheduled to expire at the end of the month.

Senators slip Patriot Act extension into jobs bill.  Senate Democrats on Thursday [2/11/2010] proposed a new, stripped-down version of their jobs bill in hopes of getting it through Congress quickly.

Obama supports extending Patriot Act provisions.  The Obama administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter made public Tuesday.

Director of FBI Urges Renewal of Patriot Act.  FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III urged lawmakers yesterday [3/25/2009] to renew intelligence-gathering measures in the USA Patriot Act that are set to expire in December, calling them "exceptional" tools to help protect national security.  The law, passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, created divisions between proponents, who said it was necessary to deter terrorism, and privacy advocates warning that it tramples on Americans' civil liberties.  Portions of the law are up for reauthorization this year.

When Skies Become Unfriendly:  Should rowdy airline passengers be prosecuted under the USA PATRIOT Act?  On the surface, the question seems to answer itself:  PATRIOT, enacted by Congress in the wake of 9/11, was intended to protect against a terrorist attack, not the drunk in seat 16A.  Dig a bit deeper, however, and there are good reasons to hold people accountable when they prevent pilots or flight attendants from doing their jobs.

Terrorist watch list hits 1 million.  The government's terrorist watch list has hit 1 million entries, up 32% since 2007.  Federal data show the rise comes despite the removal of 33,000 entries last year by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center in an effort to purge the list of outdated information and remove people cleared in investigations.

USA PATRIOT Act and Domestic Detention Policy.  From its initial draft to its final adoption, the PATRIOT Act zipped through in six weeks — less time than Congress typically spends on routine bills that raise no constitutional concerns.  Congress's so-called deliberative process was reduced to this:  closed-door negotiations, no conference committee, no committee reports, no final hearing at which opponents could testify, not even an opportunity for most of the legislators to read the 131 single-spaced pages about to become law.  Indeed, for part of the time, both the House and Senate were closed because of the anthrax scare; congressional staffers weren't able to retrieve their working papers.

PATRIOT Act Apologist Site Didn't Get the Memo.  Last week, the Department of Justice Inspector General's office released a damning report documenting the FBI abusing its powers under the PATRIOT Act and violating the law to collect Americans' telephone, Internet, financial, credit, and other personal records about Americans without judicial approval.  It appears that not everyone at the DOJ got the memo.  The DOJ's Life and Liberty website, a site dedicated to defending the honor of the PATRIOT Act during the re-authorization process last spring, still reads as if nothing has changed.  Particularly in the light of the newly revealed truth, many of the quotes now seem (at best) naive.

Who are the Patriots?  I accept the definition of patriotism as that effort to resist oppressive state power.  The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility, and out of self interest — for himself, his family, and the future of his country — to resist government abuse of power.  He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state.

The President Is Wrong:  The USA Patriot Act Should Be Terminated.  A mere 45 days after the September 11th terrorist attacks, President Bush signed into law the USA Patriot Act.  A politician's dream — and a civil libertarian's nightmare — the Patriot Act broadened the already immense powers of the federal government, not only in regard to investigations relating to terrorism but also to criminal investigations.  At some 342 pages, this massive, complex, highly technical 30,000-word statute is divided into ten titles, with more than 270 sections and endless subsections that cross-reference and amend a dozen or more different laws.  Most of our congressional representatives admitted that they did not even read this monstrosity before they voted to pass it.  Hidden within this tome are provisions that turn the FBI, CIA and INS into secret police.

Police in Thought Pursuit.  Denuded of euphemisms and code words, the Act aims to identify and stigmatize persons and groups who hold thoughts the government decrees correlate with homegrown terrorism, for example, opposition to the Patriot Act or the suspension of the Great Writ of habeas corpus.  The Act will inexorably culminate in a government listing of homegrown terrorists or terrorist organizations without due process; a complementary listing of books, videos, or ideas that ostensibly further "violent radicalization;" and a blacklisting of persons who have intersected with either list.  Political discourse will be chilled and needed challenges to conventional wisdom will flag.  There are no better examples of sinister congressional folly.

DOJ:  FBI Forced Business To Disclose Consumer Info.  The FBI underreported its use of the USA Patriot Act to force businesses to turn over customer information in suspected terrorism cases, according to a Justice Department audit.  One government official familiar with the report said shoddy bookkeeping and records management led to the problems.

Terror Database Has Quadrupled In Four Years.  Each day, thousands of pieces of intelligence information from around the world — field reports, captured documents, news from foreign allies and sometimes idle gossip — arrive in a computer-filled office in McLean, where analysts feed them into the nation's central list of terrorists and terrorism suspects.  Called TIDE, for Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, the list is a storehouse for data about individuals that the intelligence community believes might harm the United States.

The "Enemy Combatant" Attack on Freedom:  It is impossible to overstate the importance of the principles involved in the [Jose] Padilla case for the American people.  Ordinary Americans might ask, "Why get all upset about some guy named Jose Padilla?  He's just a terrorist."  What such Americans fail to realize, however, is that Padilla was just the test case whose legal principles would then apply to all Americans.  That's why groups dedicated to civil liberties and especially the Bill of Rights have focused such an inordinate amount of attention on the Padilla case.  They understood that if the enemy-combatant doctrine would be upheld with respect to Padilla, the government would then be able to apply it against all Americans, including dissidents, protesters, and critics of the government.

It's Not Exactly a National Emergency.  The United States operated under a continuous state of emergency from 1933 until 1976, according to By Order Of The President by Phillip J. Cooper.  To correct this ridiculous situation Congress passed The National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601-1651) in 1976 to stop open-ended states of national emergency and formalize Congressional checks and balances on Presidential emergency powers. … [Even so,] There are currently fourteen (14) national emergencies in effect in the United States.

Two Patriot Act Provisions Ruled Unlawful.  A federal judge issued a stern rebuke of a key White House antiterror law, striking down as unconstitutional two pillars of the USA Patriot Act.  U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled Wednesday [9/26/2007] that using the act to authorize secret searches and wiretapping to gather criminal evidence — instead of intelligence gathering — violates the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Strike Two!  Successive Blows To Patriot Act Slam 'Big Brother' Government.  "The Patriot Act should never have been enacted in the first place.  It passed with both 'Big Box' parties rushing headlong to allow frightening expansions of government power.  What happened to [Oregon attorney Brandon] Mayfield could have happened to any other innocent American; and he is an attorney!" said Constitution Party national Committee Chairman Jim Clymer.

Patriot Act Loses Appeal.  A federal appeals court ruled that some portions of the U.S. Patriot Act that govern dealings with foreign terrorist organizations are unconstitutional because the language is too vague to be understood by an ordinary person.  The ruling released Monday [12/10/2007] by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco affirms a 2005 decision by a lower court judge.

Angry U.S. Democrats threaten to limit FBI anti-terror powers.  Furious U.S. Democrats threatened Friday to limit the FBI's anti-terror powers after an audit uncovered major problems with how agents used the Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information like credit reports.  The audit found the FBI misused, sometimes illegally, so-called security letters that require companies to provide highly personal records about their customers without a judge's approval.

Lawmakers Vow Hearings on FBI Errors.  Members of Congress vowed today to conduct investigative hearings — and consider reining in parts of the Patriot Act — following revelations of pervasive problems in the FBI's use of national security letters to secretly obtain telephone, e-mail and financial records in terrorism cases.

Judge rules against parts of Patriot Act.  A federal judge struck down parts of America's top anti-terror law as unconstitutional Thursday [9/6/2007], saying courts must be allowed to supervise cases where the government orders Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers.

What the Government Knows:  Over the last four years, U.S. law enforcement agencies have gained access to over 28,000 financial records inside the United States under a little known provision of the USA Patriot Act that parallels the secret international bank data program disclosed by news organizations last week, Treasury Department records show.

The article above alludes to the currently hot topic of domestic spying.

This item is from England, but it is on topic.
Let's treat the plotters as common criminals, not soldiers in a global war.  We should reserve special scepticism for those who claim that the rules of the game need to change, on the supposed grounds that fanaticism and zealotry have created a new kind of danger.  Such people seem to insinuate that our criminal law is designed only to deal with criminality of the self-interested sort.

Bush Signs Renewal of Patriot Act.  A day before parts of the USA Patriot Act were to expire, President Bush signed into law a renewal that will allow the government to keep using terror-fighting tools passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Editor says...
On one hand, the President claims that the Patriot Act is vital to combatting terrorism in this country, because terrorists are constantly plotting to kill us all.  And he makes this argument without mentioning that all the terrorists so far have been Muslims.  But then he approves and promotes a deal to let a company from an exclusively Muslim country operate some of this country's largest ports.  What is he thinking?

Civil Disobedience and Dissent:  Good citizen or domestic terrorist?  One of the fall-outs from a law that is passed in the U.S. Congress is the possibility of copycat or similar laws being proposed in state and municipal legislatures.  In the case of the USA Patriot Act, it became apparent that zealous legislators in various states could hardly wait to set about writing their own local versions of this federal law that seriously compromises protections guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.  In Nevada, for example, concerned citizens had to face down lawmakers who saw a chance to create their own anti-terrorist legislation, or mini-Patriot Act, that could have impeded public dissent and political protest.

Making a Meth of the PATRIOT Act.  If you thought al Qaeda or Iraqi insurgents were the major threats facing America, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) says you're wrong.  According to Dent, "The growing availability of methamphetamine is a form of terrorism unto itself."  Many of Dent's colleagues apparently agree, so they've attached surveillance, "smuggling", and "money laundering" provisions to the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act.  These vast new police powers, contained in a new "Combat Methamphetamine Act" (CMA) and other provisions, serve no purpose in the ongoing and serious struggle against terrorism.

How the Patriot Act came in from the cold.  It may be one of the most controversial congressional bills in years, but the USA Patriot Act is on the verge of becoming more entrenched than ever in US law.

Pentagon wants new spying powers in the US.  The Pentagon says it won't spy on "innocent" Americans, but critics say past record shows this is false.

ACLU Urges Judge to Lift Patriot Act Library Gag Order.  The American Civil Liberties Union urged a federal judge Wednesday [8/31/2005] to lift a gag order on a client who is being asked by the FBI to provide records about library patrons under the Patriot Act.  Federal prosecutors say allowing that could tip off suspects and jeopardize a federal investigation into terrorism or spying.

Patriot Act Appeal Fails at Supreme Court.  Connecticut libraries lost an emergency Supreme Court appeal on Friday [10/07/2005] in their effort to be freed from a gag order and participate in a congressional debate over the Patriot Act.

Prosecutors drop appeal in Patriot Act librarian case.  Federal prosecutors said Wednesday [4/12/2006] they will no longer seek to enforce a gag order on Connecticut librarians who received an FBI demand for records about library patrons under the Patriot Act.

FBI Abandons Connecticut Library Security Case.  The FBI has abandoned its effort to obtain user records from a group of Connecticut libraries employing a controversial investigative tool known as a national security letter — a broad and secret demand for communications and financial information.

Librarians are Constitutional Experts Too?  The American Library Association campaigns against the USA's PATRIOT Act, even as it provides justification for Castro's persecution of Cuban librarians.

If You Thought Patriot Act I Was Bad, Wait Until You See Patriot Act II.  A recent report published by Gun Owners of America gave an in-depth summary of a new expanded version of the USA Patriot Act.  The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (DSEA) gives even more broad new powers to the federal government.

The report lists several problematic portions of the new bill including:
    • The government could bug, wiretap, or search anyone in America for up to 15 days without going to any court.
    • The government could seize personal information about Americans (including credit information, educational transcripts, etc.) in a wide range of circumstances without the approval of any court.
    • Individuals and groups which advocate Second Amendment rights could be classified as "foreign powers" and subjected to electronic surveillance for up to one year without the approval of any court.

Can Patriots Survive The Patriot Act?  Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D., is as liberal as I am conservative.  He teaches journalism at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania.  His latest book, "America's Unpatriotic Acts:  The Federal Government's Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights" was recently published and it documents how the Patriot Act and its enforcement should scare the daylights out of everyone.

Alleged terrorist held years in US without charges.  To the government, he is an al Qaeda "sleeper" agent sent to the United States by Osama bin Laden to help sow more terror after the September 11 attacks.  As his lawyers and human rights groups see it, however, Ali Saleh Mohamed Kahlah al-Marri is just one more victim of the many indefinite and seemingly arbitrary detentions carried out in the name of the U.S. war on terrorism.

Does government stupidity know any bounds?  The Patriot Act was supposed to provide federal funding to states to equip the fire, police, and EMS officers who serve at the front lines of a terrorist attack.  But the congressmen who wrote the law apparently believed that patriotism starts at home.  Money was allocated under a complicated formula where each state, regardless of its size or location, got an equal slice of the pie before risk was even considered.

Patriot Act Supporters See Success; Detractors Disagree.  Critics of the USA Patriot Act warn that Americans' civil liberties are under assault, but national security experts see a strong correlation between new counter-terrorism laws and the absence of additional attacks since 9/11.

Congress gives a boost to the Patriot Act.  The House voted Thursday evening [7/21/2005] to make permanent all but two of the law's expanded search and surveillance powers.  The only exceptions involved the government's authority to conduct roving wiretaps and to obtain personal records from businesses, libraries and medical offices in terrorism investigations.  Those hotly debated provisions were given a 10-year extension.

USA PATRIOT Act:  Update on Provisions Affecting the Tech Industry.  Congress is in the process of tweaking sixteen separate sections of the USA PATRIOT Act that were scheduled to sunset at the end of this year.  There is a House bill and the Senate bill, and the two versions are being reconciled in conference committee.  The USA PATRIOT Act was a wide-ranging expansion of state power — and in the information age, that means wide-ranging effects on the technology and telecommunications industries and their customers.  Four years later, regulatory agencies have issued the rules to flesh out the provisions of the law.

Liberty Coalition urges blockage of PATRIOT Act Legislation.  The Liberty Coalition … [has] called on the Senate to block a vote on reauthorization of the Patriot Act as it now stands.  The group's leadership strongly feels that a handful of modest but critical reforms to the legislation are still needed.

U.S. House votes to renew Patriot Act.  Considered a key part of U.S. President George W. Bush's war on terror, the Patriot Act was introduced after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.  It gives the government unprecedented powers to investigate terror suspects, including greater access to educational, financial and medical records, without a judge's prior approval.  Sixteen provisions were due to expire at the end of this year unless renewed by Congress.  By 257-171 vote, lawmakers on Thursday [7/21/2005] agreed to drop the expiration dates on 14 of of those provisions.

Senators Threaten to Hold Up Patriot Act.  Legislation reauthorizing the Patriot Act stalled Thursday [11/17/2005] as lawmakers worked to satisfy senators upset by the elimination of some civil liberties protections.

Gonzales Continues to Defend the Patriot Act.  Attorney General Antonio [sic] Gonzales has stated that he is "open to suggestions" when discussing the renewal of the USA Patriot Act.  Gonzales also stated that he would oppose "any proposal that would undermine our ability to combat terrorism effectively."  Included in this article is a list of key provisions that are due to expire by the end of 2005 if not renewed by Congress.

Editor's note:
The man's name is Alberto Gonzales.

Oversee the PATRIOT Act.  H.R. 3179 is the latest attempt to expand the scope of the PATRIOT Act even before it is clear that all the current PATRIOT Act powers are necessary and being used appropriately.  Despite the unanswered concern, key Congressional leaders resorted to stealth tactics late last year to attach a measure to the 2004 Intelligence Authorization bill that drastically increased the power of the FBI by allowing the agency to demand records from car dealers, pawnbrokers, travel agents, and other businesses without the approval of a judge or grand jury.  Neither the House nor the Senate debated this measure; the real action happened behind closed doors.

USA Patriot Act — The Good, the Bad, and the Sunset.  The events of September 11 convinced … overwhelming majorities in Congress that law enforcement and national security officials need new legal tools to fight terrorism.  But we should not forget what gave rise to the original opposition — many aspects of the bill increase the opportunity for law enforcement and the intelligence community to return to an era where they monitored and sometimes harassed individuals who were merely exercising their First Amendment rights.  Nothing that occurred on September 11 mandates that we return to such an era.

Read this:
EPIC's web page about the USA PATRIOT Act.  Section 215 grants the FBI the authority to request an order "requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)" relevant to an investigation of international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.  Although the amendment is entitled "Access to Certain Business Records for Foreign Intelligence and International Terrorism Investigations," the scope of the authority is far broader and applies to any records relevant to the individual.  This amendment, which overrides state library confidentiality laws, permits the FBI to compel production of business records, medical records, educational records and library records without a showing of "probable cause" (the existence of specific facts to support the belief that a crime has been committed or that the items sought are evidence of a crime).  Instead, the government only needs to claim that the records may be related to an ongoing investigation related to terrorism or intelligence activities.

The USA PATRIOT Act Was Planned Before 9/11.  Many people do not know that the USA PATRIOT Act was already written and ready to go long before September 11th.  Recent criticism of Bush's admission that he had received warnings only weeks before September 11th has made it more important to understand the origins of the USAPA.

The Patriot Act:  Bad Medicine.  It's one thing to add a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.  But it's quite another to go to enormous lengths to convince a patient that the medicine itself is the sugar.  Yet this is substantially what the Bush administration and its allies in the building of an imperial presidency did when they labeled their grasp for power "The Patriot Act."

Patriots Act Games:  It is the worst kind of foolishness to think that the federal government is going to nobly enforce the USA Patriot Act without yielding to the temptations of its authoritarian powers.  This piece of legislation needs to be significantly reformed to insure judicial oversight remains an essential element of investigative actions and law enforcement.

House, Senate Chiefs Spar on Patriot Act.  The Republican chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees may end up in a showdown on how best to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act. … [Congressman] Sensenbrenner plans to go along with Bush's call on the House side, with his committee … working on legislation that would strike all the "sunset" provisions — the predetermined dates when a law or provision expires — from the Patriot Act.

Patriot Act for Pranksters?  The federal government stands ready to exploit random acts of personal stupidity as precedents for turning its bloated "anti-terrorism" powers against the American public.

How the PATRIOT Act Enables Law Enforcement to Circumvent Privacy Protection.  Section 218 of the USA PATRIOT Act would amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) so that the FBI could secretly conduct a physical search or wiretap primarily to obtain evidence of crime without proving probable cause of crime. … Though notice to the target is the general rule for physical searches in criminal cases, FISA physical searches are "black bag jobs."  Law enforcement agents secretly break into a home or business and conduct a search without notice.  Indeed, the party whose privacy was compromised is never informed unless there is a later criminal prosecution.

Crisis Policy-Making:  Immediate Action, Prolonged Regret.  President Bush and his subordinates proclaim that the United States has entered into "a new kind of war."  Unfortunately, this undertaking has the potential for the same kind of domestic abuses and excesses associated with previous U.S. wars.  Already some officials have proposed such steps as requiring everyone to carry a national identification card, allowing the indefinite detention of legal immigrants without charges or hearings and vastly increasing government surveillance powers.

Libraries Say Yes, Officials Do Quiz Them About Users.  Law enforcement officials have made at least 200 formal and informal inquiries to libraries for information on reading material and other internal matters since October 2001, according to a new study that adds grist to the growing debate in Congress over the government's counterterrorism powers.

The Un-American Patriot Act:  The new USA Patriot Act, enacted in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks, could pose more of a threat to personal liberty than to terrorists.

The Patriot Act reduces privacy and undercuts judicial review.  The assumption has been that there was simply too much liberty and privacy in America — and that federal law-enforcement agencies did not have enough power.  To remedy that perceived problem, policymakers rushed the USA Patriot Act into law.  The Patriot Act was designed to reduce privacy and increase security.  It has succeeded in at least reducing privacy.  Financial privacy is essentially gone.  The feds have turned banks, brokerage houses, insurers and other financial institutions into state informers.

Colleges Protest Call to Upgrade Online Systems.  The federal government, vastly extending the reach of an 11-year-old law, is requiring hundreds of universities, online communications companies and cities to overhaul their Internet computer networks to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to monitor e-mail and other online communications.

Patriot Act Push Angers Some on the Right.  A Senate panel vote riles conservatives concerned about the reach of federal power. … The conservatives complained that the Senate panel had moved in secret to expand the act.  They are particularly upset about proposed "administrative subpoenas" that would let the FBI obtain a person's medical, financial and other records in terrorism cases without seeking a judge's approval.

Patriot Fixes — Commentary by Bob Barr.  The most common charge levied against critics of the Patriot Act — one that Alberto Gonzales, the new face of Justice, is likely to repeat in his days ahead — is that they're "misinformed."  Well, as a former U.S. attorney appointed by President Reagan, a former CIA lawyer and analyst, and a former Congressman who sat on the Judiciary Committee, I can go mano a mano with any law-enforcement or intelligence official on the facts.  And the facts say that the Patriot Act needs to be reviewed and refined by Congress.

Son of the Patriot Act.  As it has shown the world in its pre-emptive military action in Iraq, the Bush administration at home is following the philosophy "the best defense is a good offense" to obtain more power.  Despite serious concerns in Congress and in state and local governments across the country — well more than 200 of which are on record as opposing some or all of the USA Patriot Act — and by private organizations from across the political spectrum, the administration is actively seeking to expand this law.

Patriot Act II Creates a National ID card.  After a one-year study period, the Department of Homeland Security will mandate standards for all state driver's licenses, including "biometric ID provisions," which can include your fingerprints, retinal scans, and other biometric identifiers, such as your DNA.  The new high-tech national ID cards will be required for boarding planes, cruise ships, and for driving a car.  That means they can be used as Soviet-style internal passports, making anyone deemed "suspect" unable to travel in their own country.

More about The Proposed National ID Card.

Patriot Act Oversight Hearing Highlights Flaws.  The Patriot Act was passed with undue haste and has been flawed in its implementation, according to the ACLU.

House Votes to Limit Patriot Act Rules.  The House voted Wednesday [6/15/2005] to block the FBI and the Justice Department from using the anti-terror Patriot Act to search library and book store records, responding to complaints about potential invasion of privacy of innocent readers.

House Votes To Curb Patriot Act.  The House handed President Bush the first defeat in his effort to preserve the broad powers of the USA Patriot Act, voting yesterday to curtail the FBI's ability to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations.  Bush has threatened to veto any measure that weakens those powers.

Rhetorical questions:  What is in the public library that is so valuable to terrorists?  What kind of books might I purchase at a book store that could be used as evidence against me?  Why does President Bush think these provisions of the Patriot Act are so vital to our national security?  What kind of damage could someone like Janet Reno or Howard Dean or Hillary Clinton do with a law like this?

Patriot Act Critics Laud Vote to Limit Use.  Advocates of rewriting the USA Patriot Act are claiming momentum after the House, despite a White House veto threat, voted to restrict investigators from using the anti-terrorism law to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.

Patriot Act Games.  The USA Patriot Act of 2001 and the proposed Son of Patriot Act, now being debated in the Congress at the request of the Bush administration ... are frightening laws.  Left unchecked, they threaten the constitutional basis on which our society is premised:  that citizens possess rights over their persons and property and that they retain those rights unless there is a sound, articulated, and specific reason for the government to take them away (i.e., probable cause of criminal activity).  The Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure will have been gutted.

Hearing Announced for H.R. 3179:  This legislation contains provisions that will be detrimental to important concepts of our American system of justice such as due process and checks and balances.  For instance, under H.R. 3179, the business owners who are recipients of National Security Letters requiring records to be handed over to law enforcement would be forever silenced from speaking about what had happened… until the Attorney General ruled otherwise.  Not even a complaint to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice is allowed.  It's the kind of measure that just is un-American.

PATRIOT Act Sneak Attack II:  As a result of many protests from US citizens, the Judiciary Committee postponed a vote on the bill, HR 3179, the Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Tools Improvement Act of 2003, and instead a subcommittee held a public hearing on May 18.  But you would never know that the hearing occurred if you read the American press or watch or listen to US electronic news media.  A major expansion of one of the most controversial laws ever adopted in the US was ignored by most of the media.

Was "1984" a how-to book?  Polls show Americans regaining their skepticism of government and demanding that respect for civil liberties figure in anti-terrorist policies.  But government officials don't appear to be paying attention.  Instead, they seem to be pawing through a copy of "1984" with the idea of using George Orwell's cautionary tale as a blueprint for an America of the future.

Is the Government Exaggerating the Terrorist Threat?  In an article entitled "U.S. has overstated terrorist arrests for years" the Miami Herald [in 2001] accused the FBI (and particularly FBI Director Mueller) of deliberately exaggerating the amount of terrorist activity in the US in order to try to justify budget increases.  The FBI claimed that there were 236 convictions for terrorist acts in the year 2000, but refused to provide a list or any details.  Yet when the Miami Herald managed to get its hand on documents under the Freedom of Information Act, it concluded that "The Department of Justice has overstated its record of arresting and convicting terrorists for years, inflating the numbers it gives Congress with garden-variety crimes that have no connection to terrorism."

Clearing the air on the Patriot Act.  As a former Member of Congress who voted in favor of the legislation in 2001, I believe many provisions in the Act are appropriate for the government to uncover and prosecute acts of terrorism.  I believe just as strongly, however, that other provisions go far beyond this vital mission and undermine our constitutional freedoms and Fourth Amendment rights.

The Patriot Act:  Probable Cause and Due Process.  Both liberal and conservative groups alike have criticized the U.S. Patriot Act, passed in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, because they say it violates probable cause and due process rights protected by the Constitution of the United States.

Report Card on the Patriot Act:  Privacy advocates remain wary of the antiterrorism measure, saying that the government's claims are hard to verify because the operations conducted under the new law have so far been kept secret.

Revisiting the Patriot Act.  The Patriot Act requires a wide array of businesses and agencies to collect detailed information about groups and individuals and to relay the information to federal agencies, including data about users of the Internet.

USA Act Stampedes Through.  "The report has just come to us," said Rep. Robert Scott (D-Virginia) during the debate….  "It would be helpful if we would wait for some period of time so that we can at least review what we are voting on, but I guess that is not going to stop us, so here we are."

Patriot Act Suppresses News Of Challenge to Patriot Act:  The American Civil Liberties Union disclosed yesterday [4/28/2004] that it filed a lawsuit three weeks ago challenging the FBI's methods of obtaining many business records, but the group was barred [by a provision in the Patriot Act] from revealing even the existence of the case until now.

The Editor says...
This is a particularly dangerous law if we can't even debate its faults.

Deconstructing the Bill of Rights:  The Patriot Act, more than 300 pages in length, was either written at lightning speed or, perhaps, some version of the bill was, by some prescient anticipation of 9-11, sitting on the shelf in the Department of Justice, waiting for implementation.

Cell Phone Jamming and Terrorist Attacks.  Here's an idea that's so amazingly stupid that I can't even believe it's being seriously discussed:  the LA police are considering jamming all cell phones in the event of a terrorist attack.

Total Informational Awareness.  A project of the United States Department of Defense, Total Informational Awareness (TIA) is designed to gather personal data on a grand scale, including emails, phone calls, financial records, transportation habits, and medical information.  Its proponents believe that by scanning and analyzing this massive pile of data, government agents will be able to predict and prevent crime.

Signals And Noise.  The name "Total Information Awareness" was changed, in an effort to erase any connection to its past.  Today it's called the Research Development and Experimental Collaboration (RDEC).  The NSA is the biggest player, with at least 15 nodes as of December 2004, according to official documents.  "I think it's considerably more today," said a former government official knowledgeable about RDEC.  A spokesman for the NSA said he had no information to provide about the network.

Monitor Thy Neighbor.  Americans are beginning to understand that many precious liberties have been put in jeopardy by the government's rush to enact new laws in the wake of September 11th.  Federal law enforcement agencies now have broad authority to conduct secret, warrantless searches of homes; monitor phone and internet activity; access financial records; and undertake large-scale tracking of American citizens through huge databases.  We're told this is necessary to fight the unending war on terror, but in truth the federal government has been seeking these powers for years.

From the Constitution Party National Platform:  The USA PATRIOT Act permits arrests without warrants and secret detention without counsel, wiretaps without court supervision, searches and seizures without notification to the individual whose property is invaded, and a host of other violations of the legal safeguards our nation has historically developed according to principles descending from the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Hundreds of Cities Outlaw the Patriot Act.  Not only was the Constitution tossed out the window when the USA Patriot Act was passed, mistakes can now be — and have been — made without our knowledge.  You may have inherited a cell phone number that was previously being tapped.  This has actually happened.  Guess what?  Chances are, it's still being tapped, but you'll never know.  Incorrect addresses on secret warrants can result in a nasty — and dangerous — surprise at 3:00 am.  This has happened too.  Guess what?  There isn't a thing you can do about it.  No one is ever going to show you the warrant so you can discover the mistake.

Be sure to check out The USA Patriot Page at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Patriot Act Privacy Invasion Invoked.  In recently disclosed memos, the FBI asked the Justice Department in the fall of 2003 for permission to invoke portions of the Patriot Act that allow investigators access to citizen's business and library transactions.

Let the Patriot Act die.  The quick, emotional passage of the Patriot Act only weeks after the September 11th attacks allowed little time for scrutiny of its measures.  In fact, most members of Congress did not read it before voting.  Congressman Ron Paul said he couldn't even get a copy before the vote.  As a result, provisions of the Act offer major opportunities for government abuses of law-abiding private citizens.

Patriot Act II Versus United States Constitution:  The Patriot Act trashes precious constitutional protections but a follow-up law now being drafted goes even further.

D.C. Government Should Ignore Greenpeace on Homeland Security.  The "Terrorism Prevention and Safety in Hazardous Materials Act of 2004" will actually make more difficult the already arduous task of protecting Washington from the depredations of terrorists.

DOJ quietly drafts USA Patriot II  with crypto-in-a-crime penalty.

DOJ's "confidential" Patriot Act II  [PDF]

America Post-9/11:  Freedoms Preserved or Freedoms Lost?:  Testimony before Congress by former Congressman Bob Barr.

Losing the War for Civil Liberties:  Rep. Ron Paul says, "I think we're on the verge of a very, very tough police state in this country — and it will only end when Americans are fed up.  So far people are terrified to say anything.  Hopefully, we'll wake up before it's too late."

Starting a Brush Fire for Freedom:  An interview with US Rep. Ron Paul.  Since the 9/11 tragedy, Dr. Paul has been an outspoken critic of the USA Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, which he believes are a threat to liberty and a sign that our country is becoming more like a police state.  "The idea that search warrants could be granted so easily under the Patriot Act," says Dr. Paul.  "…with sneak and peak searches and going into libraries and other places to find out what people are doing is wrong.  It's total surveillance."

 Editor's Note:   The article above is very timely, and the person conducting the interview, Mr. John W. Whitehead, also had some interesting things to say, for example...
On Saturday, December 13, 2003, President Bush signed the Intelligence Authorization Act into law.  This was the same day Saddam Hussein was captured and Americans, thus, were obviously distracted.  It included a redefinition of financial institutions.  The phrase, which previously referred to banks, now includes stockbrokers, car dealerships, credit card companies, insurance agencies, jewelers, airlines, the U.S. Post Office and the catch-all phrase of any other business "whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters."
Trading Freedom for Security:  When it comes to many of the "anti-terror" policies and laws being fastened upon us, the "cure" may be more deadly than the disease.

The Patriot Act and Mission Creep:  One of the problems with laws is that the crimes that justify their passage are not always the crimes they are used against.  In the United States, the RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations) law was passed to help fight organized crime, but was used against anti-abortion protesters and relatively minor drug offenders.  And the Patriot Act, passed to help fight terrorism, is being used against a variety of other crimes.

The National Homeland Security Knowledgebase: NHSK is a leading Non-Government Website for search phrase "Homeland Security" featuring a comprehensive collection of links and resources and news in Homeland Security, Defense and global security issues.

Fear factor and Fortress America:  This raises the questions of whether we can hope to make ourselves "safe" — if by that we mean no more terror attacks — and if it is worth the price of transforming ourselves into an armed fortress.  Changing America is a primary objective of the terrorists.  If we change ourselves, have they won?

Civil Liberties and the War on Terrorism:  Less than six weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, Congress passed anti-terrorism legislation that received minimal media coverage and triggered almost no public protest.  Yet the new legislation granted the federal government sweeping new powers to investigate and detain anyone deemed a threat to national security.

Georgia student indicted on terrorism charge.  A 21-year-old college student has been indicted on suspicion of giving material support of terrorism, a federal prosecutor said Thursday [4/20/2006]. … It is unclear what Syed Haris Ahmed is accused of doing because the indictment is sealed and authorities provided few details.

Taking Liberties in the War on Terror:  The Justice Department's "Patriot Act II".  In the days following September 11th, the Bush Administration made a calculated decision to view the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as acts of war by foreign aggressors, rather than criminal acts that required redress by the justice system.

Forfeiting "Enduring Freedom" for "Homeland Security":  A Constitutional Analysis of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 and the Justice Department's anti-terrorism initiatives.  [PDF]

Stealth Legislation Undermines the Constitution.  It appears that we are witnessing a stealth enactment of the enormously unpopular "Patriot II" legislation that was first leaked several months ago.  Perhaps the national outcry when a draft of the Patriot II act was leaked has led its supporters to enact it one piece at a time in secret.  Whatever the case, this is outrageous and unacceptable.

The President Is Wrong:  The USA Patriot Act Should Be Terminated.  At some 342 pages, this massive, complex, highly technical 30,000-word statute is divided into ten titles, with more than 270 sections and endless subsections that cross-reference and amend a dozen or more different laws.  Most of our congressional representatives admitted that they did not even read this monstrosity before they voted to pass it.  Hidden within this tome are provisions that turn the FBI, CIA and INS into secret police.

Report says Homeland Security Got Census Data on Arab Americans.  EPIC has obtained heavily redacted documents through the Freedom of Information Act revealing that the Census Bureau provided the Department of Homeland Security statistical data on people who identified themselves on the 2000 census as being of Arab ancestry.  There is no indication that the agency requested similar information about any other ethnic group.

Editor's note:
Well… yeah!  That's exactly what the Homeland Security people should be doing.  The writer of the above article makes it sound like a bad thing.

Truth About the "War on Terrorism":  Never content to follow the mass media and focus solely on the minutiae of an important question, James Bovard explores and analyzes the bigger picture in order to get to the truth of the matter — namely how Americans let themselves get dragged into what appears to be a never-ending war on terror, how politicians have used fear of terrorism to dangerously expand the power of the federal government, and the extremely serious threat to life, liberty, and property that the exercise of this power poses to citizens of the United States and to those of other countries.

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
James Madison    

Editor's note:
The articles in this subsection appear on the ACLU web site, or they pertain to the ACLU's battle against the Patriot Act.  In general, I am very reluctant to agree with the ACLU on anything; but in this case I'll make an exception.

Patriot Act II:  H.R. 3179 would enhance the government's secret power to obtain personal records without judicial review.  It would also limit judicial discretion over the use of secret evidence in criminal cases and allow the use of secret intelligence wiretaps in immigration and possibly other civil cases without notice or an opportunity to suppress illegally acquired evidence.  If passed, this bill would be a major and unwarranted expansion of the government's secret surveillance powers under the USA PATRIOT Act.

USA PATRIOT Act:  Just 45 days after the September 11 attacks, with virtually no debate, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act.  There are significant flaws in the Patriot Act, flaws that threaten your fundamental freedoms by giving the government the power to access to your medical records, tax records, information about the books you buy or borrow without probable cause, and the power to break into your home and conduct secret searches without telling you for weeks, months, or indefinitely.

Patriot Act News Items  at the ACLU web site.

Detroit Judge says Patriot Act suit can proceed.  A federal judge in Detroit has rejected the government's request to dismiss an ACLU lawsuit challenging the constitutionally of the controversial USA Patriot Act, an anti-terrorism measure Congress enacted after the 9/11 attacks. … [U.S. District Judge Denise] Hood said in a 15-page decision that the ACLU's clients — Muslim charities, social services organizations and advocacy groups — established that they have been harmed Section 215 of the law.


This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2024 by Andrew K. Dart

We Can Be Secure and Free.  The situation hasn't improved much yet, but Secretary Tom Ridge, Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson and those who work for them seem intent upon securing our borders, enforcing our immigration laws and even changing the way we try to encourage or require prospective citizens to buy into our values before they can claim U.S. citizenship… and doing so in a manner consistent with maintaining our traditional freedoms.

A Tale of Two Attorneys General:  The public wants security, and will put up with mistakes in its cause.  But when it senses that important values have been ignored, there is retribution.  By the time the Supreme Court adjourns in June, it almost certainly will have embarrassed the administration by rejecting some of the extravagant claims for power made by it in the several terrorism cases the Court has significantly agreed to hear.

The Un-American Patriot Act:  The new USA Patriot Act, enacted in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks, could pose more of a threat to personal liberty than to terrorists.

Foundations of the Garrison State:  Far from being a reaction to 9-11, the proposed Department of Homeland Security is based on an elitist blueprint finished and on the President's desk before Black Tuesday.

Comments on the Department of Homeland Security:  The promise of the newly formed Department of Homeland Security is to improve our nation's security from terrorism.  Unfortunately, the results are far more likely to be the opposite.  Centralizing security responsibilities has the downside of making our security more brittle, by instituting a commonality of approach and a uniformity of thinking.  Unless the new department distributes security responsibility even as it centralizes coordination, it won't improve our nation's security.

Homeland Security department ill-equipped, critics say.  As the Department of Homeland Security marks its first anniversary, the mammoth agency responsible for protecting the United States is saddled with funding woes, bureaucratic power struggles and unfulfilled expectations, according to lawmakers and security analysts.

Homeland Security Funding Part I:  Money is Not Flowing to the Places in Danger.  Most of the homeland security money Congress has appropriated since Sept. 11, 2001, has failed to reach the local governments that need it most, while much of the funding has gone to places that face only a minimal threat from terrorism.

The Action is in the Reaction.  The terrorist leaders and their sponsors are providing the pretext for the U.S. government to institute police-state measures.

What Can Be Done:  The answer to terrorism lies not in granting Gestapo-like police powers to the federal government but in restoring legitimate internal security measures.

Suspending Habeas Corpus:  The Bush administration claims the power to detain "enemy combatants" indefinitely without trial, a suspension of the Habeas Corpus guarantee on which our justice system is founded.

Civil Liberties and the War on Terrorism:  Less than six weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, Congress passed anti-terrorism legislation that received minimal media coverage and triggered almost no public protest.  Yet the new legislation granted the federal government sweeping new powers to investigate and detain anyone deemed a threat to national security.  [Huge collection of additional articles.]

The Demand for Data by the Feds is on the Rise.  Private businesses such as phone companies, banks and retail stores are facing more requests from law enforcement agencies for information about their customers, forcing many to deploy staff and upgrade equipment to meet the demand.  The subpoenas and court orders, many stemming from new government powers to search for terrorists, have alarmed civil rights groups and privacy advocates, who say that the government is secretly snooping on innocent citizens.

The Bill of Rights and the Homeland Security prison in Tacoma:  The Department of Homeland Security will soon open a "Northwest Detention Center" on the Tacoma Tideflats at 1623 E. "J" St.  Please visit this site in person in the next few days and see it for yourself.  Don't bother looking for any signs identifying what it is, however, because there aren't any.

Is There a Detention Center Near You?  The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spends more than $600 million per year to operate eight Service Processing Centers and seven contract detention facilities.  According to ICE, the average detention is about one month, although some detainees are kept for several years.

What Are We Protecting?  Americans were taken by surprise by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and in some way, everyone saw that day as a wake up call.  We wanted to feel secure again.  We felt more vulnerable than perhaps we have ever felt.  In response to these feelings, our leaders declared a "War on Terrorism" and they enacted legislation with names like the USA PATRIOT Act so that we would feel like something was being done.

EFF Analysis Of The Provisions Of The USA PATRIOT Act That Relate To Online Activities:  As far as the investigation has revealed so far, computer crime played no role in the September 11, 2001 attacks or in any previous terrorist attacks suffered by the United States.  Computer crime, especially when it results in danger to lives, is a serious offense, but PATRIOT adds it to the list of "terrorist offenses."  …Without explanation, early versions of PATRIOT included even low-level computer intrusion and web defacement as "terrorist offenses."

Editor's note:
Defacing a web site is an act of criminal mischief, certainly something to be prosecuted and punished, but it is not an act of terrorism.  Stiffening the punishment for this type of crime was mentioned in the Republican Party platform in the 2000 election cycle, at least a year before the September 11 attacks. 
"A Republican administration will work to improve international cooperation against all forms of cross-border criminality, especially the burgeoning threat of cyber-crime that threatens the vitality of American industries as diverse as aerospace and entertainment.  Nowhere has the [Clinton] administration been more timid in protecting America's national interests than in cyberspace.  Americans have recently glimpsed the full vulnerability of their information systems to penetration and massive disruption by amateurs.  A sophisticated terrorist or adversary government could potentially cripple a critical U.S. infrastructure, such as the electrical grid or a military logistics system, in time of crisis.  A new Republican government will work closely with our international partners and the private sector to conceive and implement a viable strategy for reducing America's vulnerability to the spectrum of cyber threats, from the adolescent hacker launching a contagious computer virus to the most advanced threat of strategic information warfare."
The Illusion of National Security:  No one, after 911, can doubt that our national and our personal safety has been attacked by Islamic fanatics bent on imposing their religion via "jihad" or holy war.  Our government has been energized.  Not since Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" have the forces of Big Brother been so excited.  They have a mission.  They have a plan.  They have programs.  They have regulations.  All desperately needed, says the government, to fight terrorism.

Total Police State Takeover:  The Second Patriot Act is a mirror image of powers that Julius Caesar and Adolf Hitler gave themselves.  Whereas the First Patriot Act only gutted the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, and seriously damaged the Seventh and the Tenth, the Second Patriot Act reorganizes the entire Federal government as well as many areas of state government under the dictatorial control of the Justice Department, the Office of Homeland Security and the FEMA NORTHCOM military command.

Does Bush's "Project Safe Neighborhoods" Violate the Constitution?  A Bush administration program that calls for federal agents to prosecute gun crimes runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution, some legal scholars believe.  "In actuality and despite what the federal courts have felt constrained to do, the federal government has no more legitimate constitutional authority over gun crime that happens in one state than it does over jaywalking or drunk driving," said Gene Healy, Cato Institute legal scholar.

Why the Fourth Amendment is Right and Bush and Ashcroft are Wrong:  Various news stories in recent years document the fact that police have on numerous occasions battered down doors, entered the wrong houses and even killed innocent people.  These no-knock raids illustrate very clearly just how little protection Americans have against being subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons and property.

Fight Terrorism.  There is no substitute for citizen control of government.  Without more meaningful checks on raw and often secret political power, that power may not only fail to protect us from terrorists, that power can become terrorism.

Four Myths About Muslims:  Day after day the "war on terror" brings more misinformation, disinformation and propaganda.  Most security measures are either window dressings for public consumption or usurpations of civil liberties by power-hungry elements within the bowels of bureaucracy.

Secret Patriot Act II Destroys Remaining U.S. Liberty:  Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex) told the Washington Times that no member of Congress was allowed to read the first Patriot Act that was passed by the House on October 27, 2001.  The first Patriot Act was universally decried by civil libertarians and Constitutional scholars from across the political spectrum.

The Patriot Act:  What it Says vs What it Means

USA Patriot Act remains shrouded in secrecy.  The USA Patriot Act remains largely a mystery, its impact still shrouded in complexity and secrecy.  The legislation, overwhelmingly approved by Congress after the White House demanded new tools to prevent another terrorist assault, resulted in the largest expansion of police powers in decades.

Momentum growing against the Patriot Act:  "When the Patriot Act was passed, smoke was still coming out of the rubble of the Pentagon and the twin towers" of New York's World Trade Center, [Congressman Butch Otter of Idaho] said.  "We rushed in order to provide some comfort to the people of the United States.  It was a big mistake."

The Risks of Panic:  We all want to prevent future attacks, and see terrorists brought to justice for their heinous actions.  But this does not suggest that we should act precipitously without carefully contemplating the potential implications, especially when there has been little (if any) meaningful analysis of such decisions' real utility or effects.  Calls for quick action abound, suggesting technical and non-technical approaches intended to impede future terrorism or to calm an otherwise panicky public.

"You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered."
- Lyndon B. Johnson        

Preserving freedom, beating terror:  As we settle in for the long haul in the war against terrorism, we are establishing the patterns that will determine whether that war secures or loses our liberty.  Much depends on the kind of contribution average American citizens make to this effort.  How can we help protect American liberty, and strengthen it in the process?

DOJ's Already Monitoring Modems.  The Department of Justice already is using its new anti-terrorism powers to monitor cable modem users without obtaining a judge's permission first.

Emergency warning systems "unreliable".  Discovering that many components of the nation's disaster warning systems still rely on decades-old equipment, an assessment of the systems by a private firm has found them to be "incomplete, highly fragmented, unreliable and slow."
The government provides only the illusion of security.
Anti-gun Measure Billed as Anti-terror:  Two Republican senators want to close the so-called gun show loophole in federal firearms laws.  John McCain, R-Ariz., and Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, sent a note to fellow GOP senators that they would attach a rider addressing gun shows in the next appropriate bill.  Their reasoning for backing the measure: that it will help stop terrorists.

Save the Constitution.  Before we burn the Constitution in this war on terrorism, why don't we try living under it?  In an emergency executive order, President Bush has pushed the panic button, thrown the baby out with the bathwater and discarded 200 years of the rule of law in this country.  It's just a short step to dictatorship when one man has the power to jail or even execute aliens in secret kangaroo courts.  And those are just some of the powers assumed by the president in an order released last week.

Sept. 11 — Mandate for big government?  Several polls taken after last fall's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington seemed to indicate that the public was willing, in the interests of safety and security, to put more trust in government than at any time in recent memory.  Political science professionals, liberals and Democrats were briefly ecstatic, as it appeared that a new day was dawning.  Leading Democratic strategists argued, in fact, that the road to electoral success lay in embracing government solutions to just about everything rather than downplaying the party's historic love affair with the state.  Bill Clinton, they argued, was flat wrong when he suggested that the "era of big government is over."  It was just beginning.

New Federal Patriot Act Turns Retailers into Spies against Customers:  Ordinary businesses, from bicycle shops to bookstores to bowling alleys, are being pressed into service on the home front in the war on terrorism.  Under the USA Patriot Act, signed into law by President Bush late last month, they soon will be required to monitor their customers and report "suspicious transactions" to the Treasury Department — though most businesses may not be aware of this.

Police State:  Critics both left and right are saying the USA PATRIOT Act not only strips Americans of fundamental rights but does little or nothing to secure the nation from terrorist attacks.

The Real Terror:  The most common phrase one hears on the television and the radio, from nearly everyone who can be reached with a microphone, is "life will never be the same again."  This is doubtless true, for the psychological effects of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will leave scars on just about every thinking person in this country.  But the phrase means more than that to certain of our government officials, for whom that seemingly obvious phrase means "we're going to make sure that we concentrate as much power in the hands of the government as possible, under the pretext of trying to keep the public safe."

House Judiciary Committee Questions Use of PATRIOT Act:  John Whitehead — president of the Rutherford Institute, a human rights and civil liberties public interest law firm in Charlottesville, Va. — called the inquiry "definitely a move in the right direction.  "The PATRIOT Act is, in my opinion, the most invasive violation of constitutional liberties I've seen in my 28 years practicing law," he said.

Analysis of "Patriot II":  Like its predecessor, [it] is a grab bag of provisions spread throughout the legal landscape.  One clear difference exists however.  Unlike USAPA, USAPA II has no provisions that "sunset" after a certain time.  All of its changes are permanent.

Vanishing Liberties:  Where's the Press?  On March 18 [2003], the Associated Press reported that at John Carroll University, in a Cleveland suburb, Justice Antonin Scalia said that "most of the rights you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires" because "the Constitution just sets minimums."  Accordingly, in wartime, Scalia emphasized, "the protections will be ratcheted down to the constitutional minimum."

Measuring Freedom:  The war on terrorism has hardly begun, but it has already demolished the Fourth Amendment, an important basis of our civil liberties.  To feel more secure against Muslim terrorists, we have made ourselves less secure from government.

House Judiciary Chairman Hesitant on Patriot Act II.  The Bush administration's plans to expand a post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism law face resistance from a powerful House Republican who says he's not even sure he wants the government to keep its new powers.

Number of secret inquiries has gone way up since Sept. 11:  Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Justice Department and FBI have dramatically increased the use of two little-known powers that allow authorities to tap telephones, seize bank and telephone records and obtain other information in counterterrorism investigations with no immediate court oversight, according to officials and newly disclosed documents.

Why the Pentagon Wants to Spy on Your Shopping:  Did you realize the Pentagon will soon know about every gun, book, magazine, Twinkie, condom and everything else you buy?  The reason for the massive database:  to seek "patterns indicative of terrorist activity," defense officials said [recently].

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression  and free speech groups representing librarians, publishers, writers and others filed a brief that strongly supports a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the provision of the USA Patriot Act that gives the FBI virtually unlimited access to personal, organization and business records, including bookstore and library records.

CALEA:  These Are Not Your Father's Wiretaps.  Privacy advocates fear that the FBI's need to monitor Internet Age technologies, such as voice over IP, will give it far too sweeping powers.

Editor's note:
The Pen Register statute governs real time interception of "numbers dialed or otherwise transmitted on the telephone line to which such device is attached."  [That means Caller-ID among other things.]  Although the use of such devices requires a court order, it does not require probable cause:  there is no judicial discretion, and the court must authorize the surveillance upon government certification.  A government attorney need only certify to the court that the "information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation."  Therefore, the Pen Register and Trap and Trace statute lacks many of the privacy protections found in the wiretap statute.*

Operation Eroding Freedom:  Civil Liberties and the War on Terrorism.  Less than six weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, Congress passed anti-terrorism legislation that received minimal media coverage and triggered almost no public protest.  Yet the new legislation pushes aside the Bill of Rights in favor of granting the federal government sweeping new powers to investigate and detain anyone deemed a threat to national security.

Homeland Security Bill a "Threat to Our Civil Liberties":  While the announcement that Congress will likely reach a compromise on the proposed new homeland security agency is seen by many as a victory for Republicans in general and President Bush specifically, some conservatives complain that the deal gives up too much.

The Homeland Security Monstrosity:  Congress spent just a few short hours voting to create the biggest new federal bureaucracy since World War II, not that the media or even most members of Congress paid much attention to the process.  Yet our most basic freedoms as Americans — privacy in our homes, persons, and possessions; confidentiality in our financial and medical affairs; openness in our conversations, telephone, and internet use; unfettered travel; indeed the basic freedom not to be monitored as we go through our daily lives — have been dramatically changed.

Don't Sacrifice Liberty to Terrorism:  How Americans respond to the terrorist attack of September 11th is vital to the survival of our nation's unique liberties.  Which will we choose for our future?  Liberty, free of massive government intrusion in our lives?  Or the false promise of a neatly tucked safety blanket?

Forfeiting "Enduring Freedom" for "Homeland Security":  A Constitutional analysis of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 [PDF]

Ashcroft: Good intentions on a bad road:  [Bush and Ashcroft] argue convincingly, I think, that roving wiretaps, reading people's e-mail, putting video cameras on every corner, and perusing their library habits will make it easier to catch terrorists before they act. They can even make a case that by establishing a Castro-like system of informants or requiring us all to carry ID cards they will be able to make it more difficult for terrorists to move around. The problem is that, once all of this is in place, we will no longer be living in the same country we lived in prior to Sept. 11.

Libraries and the Patriot Legislation:  The USA PATRIOT Act broadly expands law enforcement's surveillance and investigative powers.  In particular, the law raises complicated questions with respect to what constitutes a business record and the law's broad definition of computer trespassers.  The law also creates a new relationship between domestic criminal investigations related to foreign intelligence.

The FBI has not been here.  Librarians, who can be required by the FBI to submit library records of private citizens under the PATRIOT Act — and who are prohibited from making these requests public — have invented some clever, legal strategies to fight back.

Feds Deny Asking ISPs to Watch E-mails:  Last month, the European Union passed a resolution that would require all ISPs to store for up to seven years e-mail message headers, Web-surfing histories, chat logs, pager records, phone and fax connections, passwords, and more.  Already, Germany, France, Belgium, and Spain have drafted laws that comply with the directive.  Technology experts say the U.S. federal government may try to do the same thing using the vast law enforcement allowances provided under the USA Patriot Act.

Don't Ask For More!  I believe the time has come to insist that public officials put every law they propose through a common-sense filter before they do any more damage to our present and future liberties.  Federal and state governments are rushing through legislation they say is designed to combat terrorism.  Others say they are misusing their powers to hide the fact that they have failed us miserably.  New laws will not provide the safety we need and so richly deserve.  But common sense will.

PC shield for terrorists:  President Bush should not be surprised if millions of Americans come to the conclusion that the "war on terror" is nothing but a propaganda cover for increasing the police powers of the government over native-born loyal citizens.

Protecting Liberty in a Permanent War:  With the detention of Jose Padilla (aka Abdullah al-Mujahir), the Bush administration has made an extraordinary assertion of power. It is sweeping and unnerving. The administration contends that, by merely designating a person as an "enemy combatant," the government can hold him in prison without according him a trial.  Indeed, the government does not have to charge him with any criminal offense, much less present evidence of an offense.  That is true even if the person in question is an American citizen and is apprehended on American soil.

Security Bill Raises Constitutional Concerns:  Provisions of the legislation proposed to create a Department of Homeland Security have raised concerns about constitutional rights and open government among some members of Congress.  H.R. 5005 also exempts DHLS from the Freedom of Information Act under certain circumstances.

Law may impede rights:  A little known provision of the new anti-terrorism law may make it easier for FBI agents to walk into public libraries and search records and computers for signs of subversive activity.  But don't bother asking your local librarian if anyone has been peeking in the files or checking the computers.  The law says they can't talk about searches — not to you, not to the press, not to their congressmen and not to each other.  Local librarians fear the new law could be abused and no one would know about it.

FISA: It's Not Everywhere You Want It To Be.  Despite the mistakes of our past, the USA PATRIOT Act, passed in October 2001, has taken us back to the 1950s by removing the safeguards on information sharing between the CIA and its counterpart domestic agencies.  The CIA, FBI, NSA and INS, among other agencies, maintain extensive databases full of sensitive information on American citizens.  Until the USA PATRIOT Act, laws such as the FISA regulated the sharing of this information between agencies.

Bipartisan SAFE Act Aimed at Reining In PATRIOT Act:  Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) have introduced a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate that would amend the PATRIOT Act to limit the alleged Fourth Amendment encroachments of the use of surveillance equipment and search warrants by the federal government.

Ron Paul says the Home Security Act Was a Race to Judgement:  Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., continues to assail the recently passed Homeland Security Act, saying that a full text of the 480 plus page bill was not available to his fellows on the floor of the House until just 2 hours before the history-making vote that literally reconfigures government.

Democrat Senators Stretched the Patriot Act to Reach Beyond Terrorism. has learned that the FBI's use of the Patriot Act to justify its involvement in a non-terrorism case in Las Vegas can be traced to the handiwork of Senate Democrats.

The Forever War:  How long can an emergency last?  Since 9/11, anyone who has questioned a proposed extension of government power or contraction of individual liberty has had to deal with an intimidating three-word rejoinder:  "We're at war."

Patriotic Farce:  Losing Our Liberty in the Name of Fighting Terrorism.  Is the government protecting us from terrorists or is the government using 9-11 as a pretext to establish a massive system of government control over our lives?

Police State USA:  Now that Republicans are about to assume control of the U.S. Senate, it's time to focus attention on the real problems with the Homeland Security Act.  It is nothing short of a prescription for a full-scale police state in the USA.  It is, as crafted, deeply flawed, dangerous and a cure worse than the disease.

Congress Targets the Patriot Act.  The use of the Patriot Act to pursue a case unrelated to terrorism has provided ammunition to those who want to limit the scope of the law.

"It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."

- James Madison        

The Ashcroftonian assault on liberty presses on.  Last week the Justice Department scored a major victory with the arrest of Al Qaeda operative Iyman Faris, a naturalized U.S. citizen whom the Justice Department says plotted to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge.  What many do not know though, is that the Government did this the old fashioned way — without expanded police power.

The Patriot Act goes too far.  The bill directly threatens the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.  In essence, while aimed at protection against terrorism, the Patriot Act goes too far and encroaches on and seriously erodes rights that this country was set up to protect.

How the Protection of Law Was Lost:  The Patriot Act and follow-up proposals are destroying habeas corpus and permitting warrantless searches and spying.  Supposedly, these police state measures are directed toward terrorists, but they are certain to expand, just as asset freezes and forfeitures expanded.

PATRIOT Act Opponents Draw Justice Department's Ire.  The spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department Wednesday [10/15/2003] criticized local government officials and activists across the nation who continue to do battle with the USA PATRIOT Act and urge local law enforcement agents not to assist in its enforcement.

You Are a Suspect:  If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you: Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."

More Surveillance on the Way:  The USA Patriot Act opened loopholes that let electronic communications service providers give customer records to law enforcement officials without a warrant.  In lay terms, the folks that provide your email account are an electronic service provider, and your actual emails could fall into the category of customer records.

Terror laws "eat away at privacy":  "The internet is being turned into a surveillance device and eventually surveillance will be a core design component of computers," warned Simon Davies, head of Privacy International.

Banks and Suspicion:  Government-required surveillance provisions in the newly passed antiterrorism bills could force banks to rob their customers of both financial privacy and convenience.  But how will the provisions aid in curtailing terrorism?

President Signs Anti-Terrorism Bill Amid Privacy Concerns:  "This bill does too much damage to the Constitution," said Steve Dasbach, the Libertarian Party's national director.  "[It] massively increases the government's surveillance powers, diminishes Americans' privacy and restricts our fundamental civil liberties."

Not So Fast:  "Freedom itself was attacked this morning," President Bush declared on September 11.  Many have echoed him in the weeks since then, arguing that the terrorists behind the attacks despise our way of life, which they seek to disrupt by inciting fear.  Their success hinges not only on how we respond as individuals — whether we go about our business undeterred — but on how our government responds.  If it rushes to adopt authoritarian measures in the name of fighting terrorism, "freedom itself" could be added to the list of casualties.

Is anti-terrorism anti-Constitution?:  New federal powers concern analysts from both sides of the political spectrum.  Last week, President Bush signed into law new powers sought by Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Justice Department that will allow federal law-enforcement agencies to "wiretap" the entire Internet.  Under the USA Patriot Act of 2001, law-enforcement agencies can also, in "rare instances," search a person's home without informing that homeowner for up to 90 days -- the so-called "sneak-and-peak" provision -- as well as implant a hidden "key logger" device on that suspect's computer, allowing law-enforcement officials to capture passwords and monitor every keystroke of a suspect's computer.

The Hilla-Reno Test:  Oops, they did it again. Congress passed another bill that significantly increases the power of the federal government.  It is for our protection, so they tell us.  Just as in the past, the bill was rushed on through.  There was very little time for anyone who was actually voting on the legislation to review its details and, as usual, this is where the devil is.  The bill has already been signed into law by President Bush and will be implemented immediately.

The Chill from the Pentagon:  The Pentagon assures us we have nothing to fear from its new Total Information Awareness (TIA) counterterrorism project, a colossal effort to assemble and "mine" massive databases of our credit-card purchases, car rentals, airline tickets, official records, and the like. The aim is to monitor the public's whereabouts, movements, and transactions to glean suspicious patterns that indicate terrorist planning and other shenanigans.  Well, we shouldn't always trust the assurance of the Pentagon.

Total Information Awareness:  The Total Information Awareness project is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Information Awareness Office.  The office is headed by Admiral (retired) John Poindexter who is responsible for conceiving the project.  TIA purports to capture the "information signature" of people so that the government can track potential terrorists and criminals involved in "low-intensity/low-density" forms of warfare and crime.  The goal is to track individuals through collecting as much information about them as possible and using computer algorithms and human analysis to detect potential activity.  A key component of the TIA project is to develop data-mining or knowledge discovery tools that will sort through the massive amounts of information to find patterns and associations.

Risks of Total Surveillance:  The U.S. Public Policy committee of ACM (USACM) is concerned that the proposed Total Information Awareness (TIA) Program, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will fail to achieve its stated goal of "countering terrorism through prevention".  Further, we believe that the vast amount of information and misinformation collected by any system resulting from this program is likely to be misused to the detriment of many innocent American citizens.

Total Information Awareness Program Delayed by Senate:  Civil libertarians from both sides of the political aisle were successful Thursday [1/23/2003] in temporarily halting the Pentagon's "Total Information Awareness" program, which included plans for a new government "data mining" operation unparalleled by any past U.S. intelligence-gathering effort.

Bill Clinton Backs Poindexter-like Snoop Program:  Poindexter's Total Information Awareness proposal envisions collection of personal data on individuals' driver's licenses, passports, credit card purchases, car rentals, medical prescriptions, banking transactions and other records previously off limits to government investigators without a court-approved subpoena.

Information Awareness Office Makes Us a Nation of Suspects.  Embedded in the nearly 500 pages of the current House version of the Homeland Security Act is language that could give the federal government sweeping powers to secretly monitor e-mails, bank accounts, credit card transactions, telephone calling cards, medical records, and travel documents - all without a search warrant - and keep that data in a centralized database.

Secret U.S. court OKs electronic spying:  Robert Levy, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, said, "Because the FISA now applies to ordinary criminal matters if they are dressed up as national security inquiries, the new rules could open the door to circumvention of the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements.  The result:  rubber-stamp judicial consent to phone and Internet surveillance, even in regular criminal cases…."

Ashcroft Eager to Expand Police Powers.

The Next Casualty:  Your Freedom.  Beware of bureaucrats disguised as patriots.  In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., the government has instituted sweeping new security procedures.  However, one of the "unintended consequences" could be the further loss of our civil liberties and our right to privacy.  If that happens, then the terrorists will have won, regardless of how safe we think we are.

Do We Need More Government Surveillance?  Safety and freedom are not mutually exclusive.  I have been surprised at my fellow citizens willingness to trade their personal freedoms for security.

Haste makes privacy waste:  Feds cautioned to slow down break-neck anti-terror agenda.

Conservatives Urge Caution on Expanding Surveillance Power:  While the U.S. Justice Department seeks new surveillance power to track down terrorists, some conservatives are casting a skeptical eye on what they see as an erosion of civil liberties.  "Before we begin dismantling constitutionally protected safeguards and diminishing fundamental rights to privacy, we should first examine why last week's attacks occurred," said Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), a senior Member of the Judiciary Committee.

Yield no more freedom.  Just as the drug war has not reduced the amount of illegal drugs used in this country, the sacrifice of our civil liberties on the altar of national security has not brought us security.

A bipartisan call to go slow:  Across the political spectrum, Ashcroft plan raises sharp constitutional concern.

Libertarians Frown on New FBI Surveillance Powers:  "There's no evidence that these new police powers will actually stop terrorists, but there is a clear and present danger that they will curtail the fundamental civil liberties of Americans.  That's why this bill should worry Americans more than it should worry terrorists.  And that's why Congress should reject it," said Steve Dasbach, the Libertarian Party's national director.

Terrorist Attacks Trigger "Grave Crisis" in Civil Rights:  The latest casualty in last month's terrorist attacks is the Bill of Rights according to a number of liberal civil rights groups that gathered in Washington Monday [10/01/2001] to criticize the Bush administration's proposals to improve safety and security at the nation's airports.

America Under Siege:  It is vitally important that we keep in mind several key principles.  One of the most important is contained in Alexander Hamilton's warning that war or the threat of war "will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights.  To be more safe, they at length are willing to run the risk of being less free."

Anti-terrorism bill damages liberty, foes say.

A Surveillance Superstate Looms.

Safety at Any Price?  Should Americans give up civil liberties for security?

Terrorism Act threatens our rights:  Proposal would unleash secret surveillance networks.

Documentary film:  911: The Road to Tyranny:  The government needed a crisis to convince the people to willingly give up their liberty in exchange for safety.  911 the Road to Tyranny documents the ruthless history of governments orchestrating terrorist attacks against their own people to scare them into total submission.

Contrasting Views on Preserving Civil Liberties in the Aftermath of an Attack

A Bad Year for Privacy:  Long before planes slammed into the World Trade Center and anthraxed mail snarled Capitol Hill, privacy mavens had worried that a terrorist attack would spur Congress to approve invasive new laws.  Then came Sept. 11's deadly attacks, followed by President Bush signing the USA PATRIOT Act the following month.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

- Samuel Johnson  

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Updated June 19, 2024.

©2024 by Andrew K. Dart