Saturday, May 23, 2015

End the Patriot Act!

We posted this commentary on this blog back in 2011 as we watched the growing level of abuse by our federal government -- but before Mr Snowden released the files on NSA's illicit monitoring of US citizens -- confirming a portion of the actual government abuse.  

Since then, there has been verification of FEMA incarceration camps [guarded by federal marshals], the equipping of DHS with heavily armed equipment and command centers, the massive accumulation of heavy weapons ammunition by such agencies as the Social Security Administration, and the provision of heavy infantry weaponry and tracked vehicles to local police forces.

Since then, there has been a steady stream of revelations of abuse by both the Intelligence AND Law Enforcement communities, using the tools of the Patriot Act to justify their actions.  The latest of these is NSA's demand that it be the repository of all communications from the telecoms - which oddly enough, is meeting resistance.

We don't need no stinkin Bill of Rights!
We repost this commentary because Senator Mitch McConnell [R-KY], Senate Majority Leader, is fighting to keep this abomination on the books by calling for the Senate to reconvene in a week for a vote.  

Unless Congress reaffirms it, it will die a quiet death -- as it should.

Most politicians voted for it lest they be accused of being "unpatriotic" in voting AGAINST a bill titled "PATRIOT".  What fodder for political critics, and no politician wants to be labeled "unpatriotic".  So, the Senate votes, in this case, by NOT holding a vote.

Let this damned thing die!  It is killing this country.
And, while they're at it, they should get rid of the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] which includes many of the same abrogations of the Constitution.

A note to the GOP:
It's time to send Mitch back to Kentucky to the home for bewildered politicians; he's outlived his usefulness in the Senate.
            The Patriot Act — RIP: Bill of Rights

I regard the Patriot Act as the greatest threat to individual freedom in the history of the US. It was created in good faith, and justified as a means to track down terrorists and defeat the terrorism threat. But, it can just as easily target US citizens.

Just about every intelligence investigative tool necessary to monitor terrorism was available prior to the Patriot Act; the difference was simply that intelligence officials had to justify their actions. 

At worst, it might take a few minutes to prepare the forms and pass them over to the Attorney General’s office. But, that way, the AG could act as an element of reason in a hasty decision.

I managed a global operational organization for many years, and never found this process onerous. It was inconvenient, but reasonable. My support staff included a bunch of lawyers and a retired federal judge. If a crisis emerged, as they tend to do, I had the personal phone number of the Assistant AG who was available 24/7 to review/sign off on our requirements — or, to tell us to give him more justification. 

In today’s world, a secure video-phone link would provide instant linkage, so the delay would be only the time to verbally review the situation with the AAG while he reviewed the e-documents.

The Patriot Act alternative is to place unlimited power in the hands of a single Intelligence/Law Enforcement operations unit, whose leadership could make snap, subjective decisions without a separate objective viewpoint or review.

Lincoln recognized the real threat
I’ve seen really bad judgment calls on the part of ambitious, but unbalanced, Intelligence executives; I can only imagine how many of these bad calls — without penalty — have been rationalized using the Patriot Act.

Essentially, all it takes is for the executive to accuse a person of being a terrorist, or a terrorist sympathizer or contributor; which essentially arms him with the provisions of the Patriot Act. And, if the accused is a US citizen, he loses all his Constitutional rights; and he has no recourse.

If you don’t think this system can be abused, I refer you to the Grand Jury process [aka: Star Chambers].
The potential for abuse under the Patriot Act goes well beyond one’s imagination.

Lets not incinerate the Bill of Rights in the name of Patriotism.