PATRIOT Act Curbed

The House has voted to strike down a part of the PATRIOT Act relating to library and bookstore records on a vote of 238 to 187. The act allowed the FBI to use a special court system to get authorization to look through a host of small business records rather than the traditional subpoena system.

This move will undoubtedly hurt our ability to stop acts of terrorism. Those who voted for this bill seem to think that the FBI could just look at anyone’s records at any time. However, in order to get authorization for such a search, the FBI must go to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and get an order authorizing the search. In other words, the FBI must have some reasonable basis to believe that someone’s involved in terrorist activity. The FBI doesn’t give a damn about some schlub who’s been checking out Dude Where’s My Country and the like — they’re more worried about the Pakistani with suspected al-Qaeda ties checking out books on chemical warfare and looking at plans for the local shopping mall.

This provision of the PATRIOT Act has never been used to look at library records, and the idea that library records are somehow so sancrosanct that its a horrendous violation of privacy to even look at them is patently ridiculous. The entire argument about libraries is really just a canard – already the FBI has used this provision 35 times to investigate things like apartment leases, car rentals, and credit card records. This power enables the FBI and other counterterrorism organizations to retrieve exceptionally valuable information that can mean the difference between thousands of dead Americans and another foiled attempt at a terrorist attack.

There’s nothing wrong with wishing to protect civil liberties, but this action was simply a kneejerk reaction to some ill-informed propaganda. Congress has the right to set strict evidentiary limits before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will authorize such a search – tightening those requirements would have ensured that the civil liberties would be adaquately protected without sacrificing the FBI’s ability to fight the terrorists who threaten the lives of millions. Instead of giving this issue due consideration, the House simply threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Al-Qaeda has not gone away, and their resolve to attack the United States remains strong. Meanwhile, our resolve in fighting them wavers day by day. Bin Laden believed that a free society would soon surrender to decadence and grow weak as the populace forgot about the groups who seek their destruction. Sadly, it appears that we’re slowly but surely proving bin Laden’s point — we remain at war, and our policymakers must never forget that.

4 thoughts on “PATRIOT Act Curbed

  1. Since the patriot act is NOT a constitutional act but an abomination from the get-go; I find your criticism completely off-base.

    Please, find enlightenment, re-read the act and realize it for the piece of trash that it really is and quit making the problem worse by posting this freak out sensationalist crud.

    Thanks very much and have a fabulous day…. I know _I_ will, it’s everyone else I worry about 🙂


    An enlightened, concerned citizen.

  2. Its not an abomination, its an extension of the rico laws to include terrorism, with some worst case scenarios thrown in there for good measure. The library review power is one such worst case scenario clause.

    Now, should some of these worst case scenario clause remain is a valid point of debate. The bill was passed during the chaos that followed 9/11, and understandbaly the US congress wanted to give law enforcement enough power to deal with any threats. Now that we have enhanced our intelligence concerning terrorists and their methods, its a good time to review and remove unnecessary language.

    The library power isn’t one we really need spelled out. If a very well suspected terrorist takes out a book on bomb making, well i cant think of too many judges who would oppose a warrant. Besides having such power spelled out becomes an attack point, better to have it removed then allow our nation to be mocked continually, especially if it has never been used.

  3. The problem is with the political left and their ally, the large scale media.

    It is they who erode our will to fight; they advocate a lazy and sloppy approach to life that logically culminates in a philosophy of pacificism, but not out of idealism, but out of cowardice.

    We need a wave of moral outrage to sweep this country and overwhelm the political left and the leftist media.

  4. That’s such a good idea, Thought. We’ll put all the evil liberals into work camps for saying what they think. We should squash all ideas except the ones Pat Robertson and the rest of the lunatic fringe approve. Then we’ll line up Jim Leher, Bill Moyars, and Big Bird in front of a firing squad.

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