As noted on my last post, “Latest Kuhl Campaign Ad”:
[NOTE: The ad hits on Massa’s opposition to the Patriot Act. This is a complex subject worthy of a book, let alone a blog post. Therefore, I’m going to briefly address this in a following post. (This one is long enough already.)]
So, lets talk about the Patriot Act. From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
The civil liberties of ordinary Americans have taken a tremendous blow with this law, especially the right to privacy in our online communications and activities. Yet there is no evidence that our previous civil liberties posed a barrier to the effective tracking or prosecution of terrorists. In fact, in asking for these broad new powers, the government made no showing that the previous powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to spy on U.S. citizens were insufficient to allow them to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism. The process leading to the passage of the bill did little to ease these concerns. To the contrary, they are amplified by the inclusion of so many provisions that, instead of being aimed at terrorism, are aimed at nonviolent, domestic crime. In addition, although many of the provisions facially appear aimed at terrorism, the Government made no showing that the reasons they failed to detect the planning of the recent attacks or any other terrorist attacks were the civil liberties compromised with the passage of PATRIOT.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation also outlines their concerns with the Patriot Act;
1. Expanded Surveillance With Reduced Checks and Balances.
a. Be careful what you read on the Internet.
b. Nationwide roving wiretaps.
c. ISPs hand over more user information.
d. New definitions of terrorism expand scope of surveillance.
2. Overbreadth with a lack of focus on terrorism.
a. Government spying on suspected computer trespassers with no need for court order.
b. Adding samples to DNA database for those convicted of “any crime of violence.”
c. Wiretaps now allowed for suspected violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
d. Dramatic increases to the scope and penalties of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
3. Allows Americans to be More Easily Spied Upon by U.S. Foreign Intelligence Agencies.
a. General Expansion of FISA Authority.
b. Increased information sharing between domestic law enforcement and intelligence.
c. FISA detour around federal domestic surveillance limitations; domestic detour around FISA limitations.
Click the above link for specifics on each outlined point.
Our bank records, medical records, gun records, telephone records, internet usage, library records, credit card records, etc., are now open for inspection. AND YOU WON’T KNOW IF YOUR RECORDS ARE BEING SCRUTINIZED. All it takes is one innocent, perceived connection in the long, flow chart scheme of things. Those who spout, “I don’t care; I have nothing to hide”, truly don’t understand the implications of the Patriot Act.
Don’t be fooled; its not just “extreme liberal Democrats” who are opposing the Patriot Act:
Parts of the Patriot Act have come under fire from civil liberties advocates — as well as some lawmakers on both the left and right of the political spectrum — who say they provide law enforcement with sweeping powers that could be abused.
From Rep. Dennis Kucinich:
Just 45 days after the September 11, 2001 attacks, President Bush rammed the “PATRIOT Act” through Congress with virtually no debate. This law poses an unprecedented threat to Americans’ individual freedoms and is a violation of our civil liberties. Many provisions of the act had been long sought after by law enforcement and repeatedly rejected by Congress in the past.Without a warrant or probable cause, the FBI can now search your private medical records or access your library records. Your doctor or local library is forbidden from notifying you when these searches take place. The government may search your home while you are away and in some cases even confiscate your property. Judicial oversight of these measures is virtually nonexistent. These are only a few of the PATRIOT Act’s provisions that compromise our civil liberties.
From Truthout.org (an excerpt from their six-part series): It affects all of us in some very basic and important ways.
In particular, it utterly relinquishes any semblance of due process, violates the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments, and unacceptably mixes aspects of criminal investigations with aspects of immigration and foreign intelligence laws.
Let me state it even more bluntly. This law is dangerous. It’s a travesty.
What is worse is that few Americans have the slightest idea what this law contains or what it means.
Why is this? Because, the USA Patriot Act has several clever catches in it that have enabled it to slip by the awareness of the average law-abiding citizen. First, it relates mostly to foreign nationals. (So it can’t affect U.S. citizens, right? Wrong.) Second, it deals with terrorism. (And we’re not terrorists, are we? Don’t be so sure.)
If you think this law applies only to the bad guys who attacked our nation, think again. Many provisions in this law apply to and will affect Americans, in many, bad ways.
What is more frightening about it is that, despite the fact that the USA Patriot Act was passed hastily without any debate or hearings and under a cloak of fear, its provisions were obviously very carefully thought out and crafted to take power out of the hands of courts and ensure absolute lack of oversight of law enforcement and intelligence gathering.
As of June, 2004,
… more than 300 cities and four states have passed resolutions calling on Congress to repeal or change parts of the USA Patriot Act that, activists say, violate constitutional rights such as free speech and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
“There are many conservative councilors around the country who have stated emphatically that there are many portions of the Patriot Act that are in direct violation to the way that many of us thought we do things in America,” she said. “It’s an easy out to say it’s just a liberal issue.”
If you are not a scholar on the Patriot Act, educate yourself on its specifics and implications before you blindly defend and ridicule others who do not agree with you.
And, this post doesn’t even cover the newly signed Military Commissions Act of 2006. We’ll leave that for another time.
Back to the main point of this post. Rep. Kuhl has advertised Mr. Massa’s opposition to the Patriot Act. Massa has valid reasons for being opposed to portions of this act, and he is joined in his opposition by people on both sides of the political scale. Afterall, don’t you care anymore about your civil rights? Has fear crept in to the point where you are willing to give up those rights and freedoms that those before us in our country fought so hard for, and in some cases, died for?
In my view, it’s a sneaky point to use when you want to scare and influence your uneducated audience regarding their voting choice.