Happy Birrrthday Dear Patriot Act…


Oh joy, oh giddy delight. I love anniversaries, don’t you? Wikipedia’s always interesting and informative main page reminds us that it’s already been four years since we helped America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism:

Passed by the U.S. Congress after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, the (Patriot) Act enhances the authority of U.S. law enforcement for the stated purpose of fighting terrorist acts in the United States and around the world. This enhanced legal authority is also used to detect and prosecute other alleged potential crimes. Among other laws, the USA PATRIOT Act amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Among the laws the PATRIOT Act amended are immigration laws, banking and money laundering laws, and foreign intelligence laws…
Critics claim that some portions of the Act are unnecessary and allow U.S. law enforcement to infringe upon free-speech, freedom of the press, human rights, and right to privacy. Much controversy has arisen over section 215, which allows judges to grant government investigators ex parte orders to look into personal phone and internet records on the basis of being “relevant for an on going investigation concerning international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities”, rather than probable cause as outlined in the fourth amendment.

The bill passed 98–1 in the United States Senate, and 357–66 in the United States House of Representatives; Senator Russ Feingold (Democrat, Wisconsin) cast the Senate’s lone dissenting vote, and Senator Mary Landrieu (Democrat, Louisiana) was the sole non-voting member. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law on October 26, 2001. Assistant Attorney General Viet D. Dinh and current Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff are the primary authors of the Act.

I feel safer. Don’t you?

11 thoughts on “Happy Birrrthday Dear Patriot Act…

  1. The balance between civil rights and security is a longstanding one in the US and a key to society. I wish it were taught more historically and less hysterically. Every time, as now, that we make the painful decision to surrender some of these very precious rights, the cry goes out that they are now lost forever.

    Of course they may be. But after Lincoln suspended habeas corpus (a rule of evidence protecting defendants) in the civil war, habeas corpos came back. The Japanese internment (of citizens!) was excessive to say the least, but we have learned and now the Gitmo internment is much more focused and, hysterical criticism aside, managed with far more respect for life and rights (they’ve gained weight, their korans are treated literally with gloves).

    Once the war on terror is over – could be some time – I’ll be lobbying strongly for a return of the civil rights affected by the Patriot Act.

    Until then, the gov’t definitely gets passing grades on this.

  2. It’s amazing…just thinking about the Patriot Act makes my skin crawl. Has it really been four years already??? I wish more people would care about this…

  3. I’ll be lobbying strongly for a return of the civil rights affected by the Patriot Act.

    I’m not American, so I will ask those of you who are, Even if you think there were the best of intentions behind the formation of the act, do you really think the patriot act will be reversed after the war “is over”? What if it isn’t?

  4. Once the war on terror is over…

    Good luck with that. Fake war, artificially defined, politically useful, no termination date.

    ‘Once the war on poverty is over…’

  5. Once the war on terror is over

    that’s a little naive and simplistic, methinks, but i salute your optimism. the “war on terror” practically is a political tool and media label, with nasty aftereffects like the Patriot Act and increased indiscrimate scrutiny on immigration.

    there’s a fine line differentiating when the labels “terrorist” and “ally” are used–depending on political expediency and necessity. the war on terror will never end per se, it will merely take on a different name.

    similarly (ang, to answer your question) will the patriot act ever be ‘reversed’? never because it will be the right thing to do, but only because it will suit the prevailing administration’s interests and priorities at the time.

  6. This is all a little too “1984″ for me.

    i know, i know…blame it on the noam chomsky book i’m reading!

    titled “imperial ambitions”. biased much? :)

    there’s also a fascinating pamphlet by eqbal ahmad called “terrorism, theirs & ours” on this topic. very thought-provoking!

  7. Once the war on terror is over…

    Once there is a fully functioning Southern Baptist church in Mecca, you’ll know that the war on “terror” is over.

    M. Nam

  8. Well, yes, the cold war lasted forty or so years, the hundred year’s war finally came to an end after about 130. I agree that sometimes long can be too long, and I meditate without concluding on the saying that wars force their participants to adopt each other’s strategies, and eventually systems.

    But as for the war on terror being unreal; however cynically it may be being prosecuted by the US gov’t, I doubt the Hindu population of Bali regards it as a fantasy.

    To deny the reality of terrorism is to deny the reality of the KKK, America’s Al Qaida. Here is my definition:

    • Terrorizing civilians – women and children.

    • Concealing of the fighters’ identities (masks – no uniforms).

    • Seeking to subjugate an entire population (reduce rather than expand human rights).

    We celebrated Rosa Parks life and passing just a couple days ago. Personally I find parallels, and a heartening involvment in the ending of genocides and extension of human rights, and protection of the innocent.

  9. But as for the war on terror being unreal; however cynically it may be being prosecuted by the US gov’t, I doubt the Hindu population of Bali regards it as a fantasy.

    The war on ‘terror’ is like the war on ‘crime.’ It existed long before the recent Bali bombings and will exist in one form or another long after. The only difference is that NYC took a grievous hit, and Dubya’s speechwriter coined a catchy phrase.

  10. I agree. But at the same time I think it’s good to see the murderousness of militant Islam opposed, and opposed militarily, and the US leadership role in this is obvious, unless you want to watch Europe try driving down to the middle east in their volvos to put a stop to the violence.

    Like much of good manners, the phrase war on terror is false. If there was a good idea behind it, it was to avoid alienating the broad swath of muslim opinion, to win the war for hearts and minds.

    There are a few small radical Jewish groups out there. If one committed a terrorist act (on Israeli did on a bus last month during the Gaza pullout, shooting an Arab), I’d be pained to see my government declare a war on radical Judaism, even though that would be the correct phrase.

    I understand the desire to avoid the use of a state of war as political prop. But the external aggression, and its manipulation by the US gov’t, are two different issues, both I think real.