The act that was passed roughly 6 weeks after 9/11, the Patriot Act, has long been a controversial act. Many, myself included, felt the act gave way too much power to law enforcement and was destined to be abused. Unfortunately, it has been. In 2003, the Justice Department admitted to taking advantage of the Patriot Act to wire tap, surveil, investigate American citizens and to confiscate millions of dollars in alleged crime related assets of American Citizens. In 2005, FBI papers showed the FBI had conducted surveillance on U.S. citizens for as long as 18 months without the proper paperwork and oversight. In 2007, we found that the FBI had abused it’s powers under the Patriot Act more than 1,000 times. In 2008, we found the FBI tried to cover up it’s abuses of power in acquiring phone records of thousands of Americans between 2003 and 2005. And today brings more revelations of abuses of power. (See article below)
When the Patriot Act was passed those of us who protested it’s passage were assured that the act would not be used on American citizens. The Patriot Act was sold to the public as well as Congress as imperative for keeping our country safe from terrorist attacks. Now we find that only three…yes THREE, out of 763 “sneak and peak” requests were actually involved in terrorism cases.
The FBI has illegally wiretapped American citizens, obtained emails after the warrant for same had expired, seized bank records without proper authorization and conducted improper physical searches…..in other words the FBI has proved that it cannot be trusted to use the powers within the Patriot Act in a legal and acceptable manner.
Is it any wonder that Senator Al Franken felt it necessary to read the 4th Amendment to David Kris, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s National Security Division? For those who may not be familiar with the 4th Amendment, it reads as follows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Al Franken Reads the 4th Amendment
That’s what we have lost….the right to be SECURE in our personal life. The right to know our government can’t abuse it’s power with impunity. It’s often been said that if you aren’t doing anything wrong then you shouldn’t be worried about the government snooping into emails and phone conversations, and yet those on the right who espoused that idea are now worried about a census taker gathering too much information they consider personal? This is not a partisan issue and the Democrats who voted for the Patriot Act are just as guilty and deserving of shame and anger over it as the Republicans. Only Senator Feingold stood against the passing the Patriot Act.
Why aren’t the people who abused the powers of the Patriot Act in jail?
DoJ Official Blows Cover Off PATRIOT Act
In the debate over the PATRIOT Act, the Bush White House insisted it needed the authority to search people’s homes without their permission or knowledge so that terrorists wouldn’t be tipped off that they’re under investigation.
Now that the authority is law, how has the Department of Justice used the new power? To go after drug dealers.
Only three of the 763 “sneak-and-peek” requests in fiscal year 2008 involved terrorism cases, according to a July 2009 report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Sixty-five percent were drug cases.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) quizzed Assistant Attorney General David Kris about the discrepancy at a hearing on the PATRIOT Act Wednesday. One might expect Kris to argue that there is a connection between drug trafficking and terrorism or that the administration is otherwise justified to use the authority by virtue of some other connection to terrorism.
Feingold, the lone vote against the PATRIOT Act when it was first passed, is introducing an amendment to curb its reach. “I’m going to say it’s quite extraordinary to grant government agents the statutory authority to secretly break into Americans homes,” he said. REST OF ARTICLE
Feingold Questions Department of Justice Official