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)
16 thoughts on “Patriot Act under fire from senators & FOI lawsuits”
If you turn over enough rocks, you’re bound to find something you don’t like. I too hope the Times and ACLU succeed in their suits, but I fear it’s going to take a lot more people standing up the way Senators Udall and Wyden did to actually affect real change.
The government has and will cite security concerns to fight the FOI requests and will almost certainly prevail. I’ve yet to hear of a government agency that, once given power, ever agreed to give it up. The agency becomes a living thing, with its own survival and growth its primal concern.
I don’t like this wall and all the internal conflict going on in our country. I used to be proud of American. Now, I’m more ashamed than anything.
I know the feeling.
I keep waiting for all of this nonsense to end, not unlike the Second Red Scare.
Me too. And I’m not at all sure it will end. I worry this is the new “normal”
Oh, boy. I was typing that in a hurry… typo. Meant, “I don’t like this AT ALL…” not “…this wall…” Sorry. That kinda sounded bad.
In typical fashion (for me), I assumed I was just being dumb in not understanding what you meant.
Finally. Someone besides us libertarian cranks is beginning to realize that constitutional prohibitions against government interfering with rights derived from our humanity aren’t worth a damn unless enough of us insist on it.
Apparently these senators have been hammering on this for a while now. I don’t know why it’s taken this long for the media to pick up on it, but it’s high time somebody started howling about the use of the Patriot Act as a justification for whatever intrusions our government dreams up.
I have been against the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act since 2001. First it violates our constitutional rights and second it was supposed to be a temporary measure to combat terrorism with. 10 years and some change later this act remains on the books with little or no talk of taking this “temporary” legislation “permanently” off of the books. To the contrary, people like former Reaganite Edwin Meese has posited the question, “…Tools like the Patriot Act have been instrumental in finding and stopping terrorists. Shouldn’t we have a long-range extention of the investigative powers contained in that Act so that our law enforcement officers can have the tools that we need.”
Even if Congress was mandated to have the definition of “Temporary” tattooed on their foreheads after they are sworn into office they would find a way to parse “Temporary” into “Permanent”.