Saturday, February 11, 2006

Noticing the Obvious: A Start

Yesterday (scroll down to "A New and Improved Patriot Act"), I pointed out that the 'improvements' to the Patriot Act offered by the White House were cosmetic only and that American civil liberties were still threatened by this foul piece of legislation. I used an article in the NY Times to make my point. Today, the NY Times printed an editorial which noted the same deficiencies in the so-called "compromise' bill.

The Patriot Act has been one of the few issues on which Congress has shown backbone lately. Last year, it refused to renew expiring parts of the act until greater civil liberties protections were added. But key members of the Senate have now caved, agreeing to renew these provisions in exchange for only minimal improvements. At a time when the public is growing increasingly concerned about the lawlessness of the Bush administration's domestic spying, the Senate should insist that any reauthorization agreement do more to protect Americans against improper secret searches.

...One of the most troubling aspects of the Patriot Act is the "gag order" imposed by Section 215, which prohibits anyone holding financial, medical and other private records of ordinary Americans from saying anything when the government issues a subpoena for those records. That means that a person whose records are being taken, and whose privacy is being invaded, has no way to know about the subpoena and no way to challenge it.

Rather than removing this gag order, the deal keeps it in place for a full year — too long for Americans to wait to learn that the government is spying on them. Even after a year, someone holding such records would have to meet an exceedingly high standard to get the gag order lifted. It is not clear that this change has much value at all.

The compromise also fails to address another problem with Section 215: it lets the government go on fishing expeditions, spying on Americans with no connection to terrorism or foreign powers. The act should require the government, in order to get a subpoena, to show that there is a connection between the information it is seeking and a terrorist or a spy.

But the deal would allow subpoenas in instances when there are reasonable grounds for simply believing that information is relevant to a terrorism investigation. That is an extremely low bar.
[Emphasis added]

The editorial exposed the'fixes' to the bill, and noted their clear deficiencies. While the editorial closed on a pessimistic note as to whether the Congress would continue to push back on the issue of domestic spying, at least the nation's "Newspaper of Record" noticed the obvious and said something about it. That's a start.

Now it's our turn. Those of us who are concerned about the violation of our civil liberties by this vile regime should start hammering our senators, especially Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein for signing on to this sham 'compromise.'


Blogger konopelli/WGG said...

fucking dumbocraps just shrug and walk away, again...
gutless, spineless, feckless, worthless, useless shitwhistles...

7:10 AM  

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