Americans: ask your doctor

March 4, 2010 at 6:11 am 1 comment American reader. My sympathies for you as I update you on your Patriot Act. I had hoped to have better news given then-Senator Obama’s distaste for warrantless wiretapping. During his Prez campaign, Obama opined: no warrantless wiretapping if you elect me!

Americans could look forward to leaving the Bush-era behind, along with the snooping and prying into citizens’ phone and internet activities by BIG government for “national security reasons”.

But alas, no. Now that he’s Prez, Obama is sounding more to me like Bush every single day. Why?  Because he has just signed a 1-year extension to three key provisions of the Patriot Act that were due to expire (or “sunset”), namely:

  • authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones (aka roving wiretaps provision).
  • allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations (aka library seizures provision)
  • permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group (aka lone wolf provision).

These provisions give wide-ranging government powers to snoop on Americans’ private communications and even pry into what library books are being read. Neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate saw fit to include any protections that would prevent abuses against Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights (ie to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure).

I am speechless that the Patriot Act – the only provisions of which that should stand are the ones relating to suspected terrorist activities – has remained intact. There was no debate and I suspect that the Democrats were too chicken to fight it out with the Republicans.

But what was really alarming was how the Patriot Act extension was smuggled through the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act H.R. 3961 and passed 315-97. Why the subterfuge? Why slip through existing extensions of the Patriot Act as amendments to H.R. 3961 rather than a stand-alone Bill? Guess Americans can ask their doctors to find out why controversial provisions of the Patriot Act were passed unchallenged!!

If you go to the Library of Congress legislative archive and search for what is called the “roll call vote”, you won’t find it for the Patriot Act vote.  You’ll find it in roll call #67 On Motion to Concur in Senate Amendments: H R 3961 Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act.

So folks, if you read somewhere that provisions of the Patriot Act were about to expire and if you knew how to search to find the roll call vote for it – well, you’d be stuffed because it was hidden in the roll call vote for H R 3961. Sneaky. And what I find very disturbing is – if you look at the roll call vote here – you will see that more Democrats than Republicans voted to extend the Patriot Act.

So it seems to me that Obama is continuing the battering of the US Constitution that Prez Bush diligently undertook during his term in office and is surely betraying the very words he spoke in 2005:

This is legislation [The Patriot Act] that puts our own Justice Department above the law…When National Security Letters are issued, they allow federal agents to conduct any search on any American, no matter how extensive or wide-ranging, without ever going before a judge to prove that the search is necessary. They simply need sign-off from a local FBI official. That’s all.”

…And if someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document – through library books they’ve read and phone calls they’ve made – this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law.

No judge will hear their plea, no jury will hear their case. This is just plain wrong.”

Entry filed under: Civil liberties, United States. Tags: , , .

What crises could hit us in 2010? No flight for you

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Andrew Hill  |  March 4, 2010 at 8:25 am

    And he has massively increased the budget, and scope of the drone program. Now they kill from the other side of the world: bad luck if you happen to be near any ‘suspects’. Bit hard to sort the wheat from the chaff if you want to get home to your family/dinner/bowling game at 5 o’clock.


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