First let me say I am not an attorney or a Constitutional scholar but I am an everyday lay student of the law and its different effects on our life. I try to read as much as I can from the postings and writings of those that are. Being a citizen, I think that is the least that we can do.
As for the Patriot Act under fire now, it is my understanding that it was mainly an extension of what has been used for years against the drug runners and organized crime and was expanded to include the terrorist enemies of our country. The PATRIOT Act is based on fifteen extant statutes, most importantly the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was passed by Congress in 1978.
The PATRIOT Act, as described in the Department of JusticeÂs website does the following:
· Allows law enforcement investigators to use the tools that were already available to investigate organized crime and drug trafficking.
· Allows laws enforcement to use surveillance against more crimes of terror, including the development of networks and training for violence.
· Allows federal agents to follow sophisticated terrorists trained to evade detection, especially by allowing the same Âroving wiretapsÂ long used to track organized gangs and smugglers.
· Allows law enforcement to conduct investigations without tipping off terrorists, in much the same manner as they already do against organized crime and drug cases.
· Allows federal agents to request a Court Order to obtain business records in national security terrorism cases, rather than wait for the violence to begin.
· Facilitates information sharing among government agencies, to see trends and planning before they evolve into violence.
· Updates the law to reflect new technologies and threats; most laws before the PATRIOT Act were written before the age of portable computers and roving cell phone towers.
· Allows victims of computer hacking to request law enforcement assistance.
· Increases the penalties for terrorist acts.
· Acts against the creation or support of terrorist networks.
The main concern supposedly about this act is the possible infringement of our civil liberties although an extensive search including the ACLU has found no such examples or complaints. I would think that any examples of such abuse would be shouted from the rooftops. I therefore have to conclude that there has been no such abuse.
Bill Roggio posted these telling quotes from some of todays detractors yet they were yesterdays supporters:
Regarding the need to expand FISA to allow roving wiretaps - “the FBI could get a wiretap to investigate the mafia, but they could not get one to investigate terrorists. To put it bluntly, that was crazy! What’s good for the mob should be good for terrorists” (Senator Joe Biden, D-DE)(Congressional Record)
Regarding the need for expanded cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement – “We simply cannot prevail in the battle against terrorism if the right hand of our government has no idea what the left hand is doing” (Senator John Edwards, D-NC)(Press Release)
Regarding the need to take legal action against the financial support for terrorist groups and networks – “if one is going to cope with an al Qaeda, with a terrorist entity such as Osama bin Laden, who moves his money into this legitimate marketplace, law enforcement has to have the ability to hold people accountable” (Senator John Kerry, D-Mass)(Congressional Record)
Since no one I could find have had their rights trampled under the jackboots of this legislation in 4 years and untold numbers of terrorists and their networks have been destroyed, this seem too much of a political ploy for gratuitous gain than true interest in National security. What is going through these people mind? Apparently it is okay to use these laws for fighting organized crime and drug trafficking but we need to go out of our way to protect the civil liberies of terrorists and those sworn to destroy us. Go figure.I'm outta time for now but will be back with a follow-up later including my research on the NSA kerfuffle.
I think that the Democratic Party has again jumped the shark on national security and will once again be judged to be on the wrong side of history just like their commitment to defeatism will be judged by the American voters. Who do you trust when it comes to security for America? It seems that the left is more interested in the civil rights of terrorists and enemies than they are about the safety of the people, or perhaps it is just a bigger interest in their political future and the downfall of Bush that is upmost in their minds. Either way, they are again showing the true colors of the left. This is not the Scoop Jackson Democratic Party. I'm not sure what party it is anymore.