In response to a New York Times article this morning, “Democratic Senators Issue Strong Warning About Use of the Patriot Act,” I fired off a note to my senator, Sen. Mark Udall, one of the two mentioned in the story:
Thank you for speaking out against the misuse and misapplication of the Patriot Act. In seeking to protect Americans from terrorism, this law has succeeded in taking from us more freedoms and rights than the terrorists ever could. Few are speaking up to protect us from our own government. Thank you for being one of them.
Sen. Udall and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, in remarks to Attorney General Eric Holder, contended that the government is interpreting its Patriot Act surveillance powers in a way that would leave the public and even others in Congress alarmed and “stunned” if they knew about it. Udall and Wyden are on the Senate intelligence committee.
I’ve often written about the way the government is using the Patriot Act as an excuse to conduct warrantless searches and wiretapping and ongoing abuses by the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration. Now it appears the Times and the ACLU are trying to investigate:
The Justice Department has argued that disclosing information about its interpretation of the Patriot Act could alert adversaries to how the government collects certain intelligence. It is seeking the dismissal of two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits — by The New York Times and by the American Civil Liberties Union — related to how the Patriot Act has been interpreted.
I hope the Times and ACLU succeed in their suits. Americans are not the enemy. The Patriot Act should not be an excuse to run roughshod over our constitutional rights. Passed in the fear and confusion that followed 9/11, this legislation, however well-intentioned at the time, continues to grow and intrude further into our lives when, like 9/11, it should be receding into history. As I’ve said before, it’s time to stop building Fortress America and get back to building America the Beautiful.
Also on Pied Type:
So the terrorists don’t have to
Once upon a time in America, there was a Fourth Amendment
I will not live in fear
The unpatriotic Patriot Act
- Sen. Wyden seeks opinion used in al-Awlaki killing (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Sunshine Week: EFF’s FOIA Work Shines Light on Government Activities in 2011 (eff.org)
- Patriot Act Tales Continue (volokh.com)