Monday, March 30, 2009

ANOTHER Heroic Waste Of Time: ACLU vs. PATRIOT ACT

Silly, fuzzy, hopeful, naive widdle Wabbits!

The ACLU, noting the USAPA is due for reconsideration/ renewal in December this year, is calling on Congress and "thePrez" to use the opportunity presented by the "re-authorization debate" (as fucking IF) to repair some of the most egregiously intrusive, anti-democratic facets of the hastily passed (but carefully written) attack on America's civil liberties that sprang into being within mere weeks of the 9/11 'terror' attacks and though largely unread by those who were charged to vote for or against it, passed almost unanimously through BOTH Houses of Congress.

The ACLU report identifies sections of the Patriot Act that need to be amended. These are:
  1. National Security Letters (NSLs): The FBI uses NSLs to compel internet service providers, libraries, banks, and credit reporting companies to turn over sensitive information about their customers and patrons. Using this data, the government can compile vast dossiers about innocent people. Government reports confirm that upwards of 50,000 of these secret record demands go out each year. In response to an ACLU lawsuit, Doe v. Holder, the Second Circuit Court of Appeal struck down as unconstitutional the part of the NSL law that gives the FBI the power to prohibit NSL recipients from telling anyone that the government has secretly requested customer Internet records. The FBI has admitted numerous incidences of NSLs being improperly used.
  2. The “Material Support” statute: This provision criminalizes providing "material support" to terrorists, defined as providing any tangible or intangible good, service or advice to a terrorist or designated group. As amended by the Patriot Act and other laws since September 11, this section criminalizes a wide array of activities, regardless of whether they actually or intentionally further terrorist goals or organizations. Federal courts have struck portions of the statute as unconstitutional and a number of cases have been dismissed or ended in mistrial. The law gives the government the power to shut down charitable organizations suspected of financing terrorist activities with virtually no notice and no due process.
  3. The 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: This past summer, Congress passed a law to permit the government to conduct warrantless and suspicion-less dragnet collection of U.S. residents' international telephone calls and e-mails. The ACLU and many other similar groups are seeking amendments to provide “meaningful privacy protections and judicial oversight of the government's intrusive surveillance power.”
The ACLU report charges that “More than seven years after its implementation, there is little evidence to demonstrate that the Patriot Act has made America more secure from terrorists. But there are many unfortunate examples that the government abused these authorities in ways that both violated the rights of innocent people and squandered precious security resources.”

It declares, “The framers of the Constitution recognized that giving the government unchecked authority to pry into our private lives risked more than just individual property rights. These patriots understood from their own experience that political rights could not be secured without procedural protections. The Fourth Amendment mandates prior judicial review and permits warrants to be issued only upon probable cause.”

“Stifling dissent does not enhance security,” the report concludes. It contends that the Patriot Act “vastly – and unconstitutionally – expanded the government’s authority to pry into people’s private lives with little or no evidence of wrongdoing.”

Little is known about the government’s use of many of its authorities under the Patriot Act, but raw numbers available through government reports reflect a rapidly increasing level of surveillance. The statistics show skyrocketing numbers of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders, National Security Letter (NSL) requests and Suspicious Activity Reports while terrorism prosecution numbers are down. The government has increased the numbers of terrorism investigations it has declined to prosecute.
"ThePrez has been ambiguous (or is it ambivalent) about his positions vis a vis the Bushevik-era endeavor to suppress dissent, monitor innocent citizens'/civilians' communications, trample on Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights, and promote unlimited Governmental surveillance. During the Campaign, he said he'd work to repeal it. Of course, nobody with more brain thqan a legume thinks or ever thought that that was ever gonna happen. He has neither the stones nor the mandate for such a sweeping rebuke to the Fascist/CorpoRat State interests of whom he, after all, is the supreme representative. Now, and presumably with the approval/connivance of the Obamanauts, FBI Chief (and Bushevik hold-over) Robert Mueller has already approached the Senate Intelligence Committee arguing for the complete, total re-authorization.

Remember, please: No President, not one of the 43 since George Washington, has EVER voluntarily ceded back to Congress and the people ANY powers they arrogated to the Executive for the purposes of handling exigent 'emergencies.' St. Barry, "thePrez," is NOT going to be the one who does...

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