How Will (Tea Party) Patriots Act?

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Recently by John Tyner: What Will I Say?

     

Here’s another story that isn’t getting a lot of attention. Sections of the PATRIOT Act are up for renewal this month. A renewal was introduced in the Senate at the end of January by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to extend this unconstitutional legislation. Last week, James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced a renewal to much the same effect, proving once again that statism is endemic to both parties.

A quick summary of the provisions at issue from the ACLU:

  • Section 215: of the Patriot Act authorizes the government to obtain "any tangible thing" relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if there is no showing that the "thing" pertains to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities.
  • Section 206: of the Patriot Act, also known as "roving John Doe wiretap" provision, permits the government to obtain intelligence surveillance orders that identify neither the person nor the facility to be tapped.
  • Section 6001: of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, or the so-called "Lone Wolf" provision, permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-US persons who are not affiliated with a foreign organization.

Where is the outrage at this sweeping government power? Where are the news stories warning us that the 4th amendment, among others, no longer has any teeth? Where are the Tea Party activists who screamed so loudly for a smaller federal government, the abolition of Big Brother, and the restoration of our rights, not to mention our dignities? There are some who are fighting the good fight, even if in words only:

[…] Laura Boatright, a tea-party organizer in Ontario, Calif., says the act is "unconstitutional," adding, "We can have national security in other ways, without making all the American people relinquish their liberty."

I’m suspicious of Ms. Boatright’s "other ways," but acknowledgment of the PATRIOT Act as unconstitutional is a plus in my book. The Tea Party doesn’t appear to be immune to statism and the lure of big government, though:

Ryan Hecker, a Houston lawyer and tea-party organizer, says he believes the act has helped curb terrorism and "the movement should remain agnostic."

Right. Agnostic. Nothing to see here; things are fine just the way they are. How did this guy get involved with a group of people that supposedly adores the constitution and limited government? Oh, that’s right. They all simply want power and control, and trotting out the idea of the big, bad terrorists will keep the people in fear and, more importantly, maintain their acquiescence. The Republicans have certainly wasted no time in peddling that fear:

"The intelligence and law enforcement communities that are responsible for preventing terrorist attacks need to know that the tools they rely on to keep the American people safe will not be weakened or allowed to expire," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R., Texas).

And with that, we should all be prepared for the Tea Party to betray its constituents and all citizens after going the way of every other politician: seduced by power, greed, and the desire for re-election to perpetuate those aims.

A House bill would extend the law without change through Dec. 8. Republican aides say such a move is the most likely outcome to give lawmakers more time to debate the issue.

No matter, though, the executive branch is prepared to carry on even without congressional approval:

Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Obama administration […] plans to put many of the safeguards in place even without passage of the law.

Reprinted with permission from Johnnyedge.

John Tyner [send him mail] is a software engineer in Southern California. He occasionally writes about economics, politics, and constitutional issues from a layman/amateur perspective.

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