Congress Quietly prepares to Renew PATRIOT ActSubmitted by bobbyw24 on Sun, 01/16/2011 - 08:33
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) has introduced a little-noticed bill that intends to once again renew controversial provisions of the Bush administration's USA Patriot Act that are due to expire this year.
When the act was first signed into law, Congress put in some "sunset" provisions to quiet the concerns of civil libertarians, but they were ignored by successive extensions. Unfortunately, those concerns proved to be well founded, and a 2008 Justice Department report confirmed that the FBI regularly abused their ability to obtain personal records of Americans without a warrant.
Text of H.R. 67: To extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and...
Ron Paul on the PATRIOT Act:
Supporters of the Patriot Act argue that its provisions have not been abused since its passage in 2001. In essence, Justice Department officials are claiming, “Trust us — we're the government and we say the Patriot Act does not threaten civil liberties.”
But this argument misses the point. Government assurances simply are not good enough in a free society. The overwhelming burden always must be placed on government to justify any new encroachment on our liberty. Now that the emotions of September 11th have cooled, the American people are less willing to blindly accept terrorism as an excuse for expanding federal surveillance powers.
Many of the most constitutionally offensive measures in the Act are not limited to terrorist offenses, but apply to any criminal activity. In fact, some of the new police powers could be applied even to those engaging in peaceful protest against government policies. The bill as written defines terrorism as acts intended “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” Under this broad definition, a scuffle at an otherwise peaceful pro-life demonstration might subject attendees to a federal investigation. We have seen abuses of law enforcement authority in the past to harass individuals or organizations with unpopular political views. Congress has given future administrations a tool to investigate pro-life or gun rights organizations on the grounds that fringe members of such groups advocate violence.