Tea Party Cements Patriot Act Into Place


In light of recent extensions of the Patriot Act, it can be concluded that many Tea Partiers are reneging on parts of the Tea Party agenda. Of the 41 Tea Party-backed candidates, 31 voted to extend the Patriot Act, eight voted against it, and one did not vote. As John Tyner stated at "Despite the eight nea votes, Tea Party-backed candidates overwhelmingly backed an extension of the Patriot Act."

It took Congress scarcely six weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to write, deliberate, and then overwhelmingly pass the Orwellian-named USA PATRIOT Act on October 26, 2001, and the Bill of Rights hasn’t been the same since. In its chilling summary of the law, Wikipedia noted

The Act dramatically reduced restrictions on law enforcement agencies’ ability to search telephone, email communications, medical, financial and other records … expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions … [and] expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which [the Act’s] expanded law enforcement powers can be applied.

From its inception, government agents are now free to “search a home or business without the owner’s permission or knowledge [and use] National Security Letters (NSLs) which allows the FBI to search telephone, email, and financial records without a court order … including library and financial records.”

The Act has 10 Titles, the most onerous of which is Title II, entitled “Enhanced Surveillance Procedures.” It covers all aspects of surveillance of suspected terrorists, including American citizens, who may, among many other activities, be engaging in “computer fraud or abuse.” The unconstitutional powers granted under this Title allow government agencies to gather “foreign intelligence information” from both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. Niceties such as “probable cause” are addressed through the creation of a special court (FISA, or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) which, when asked, will “approve” fishing expeditions if there appears to be the slightest suspicion of illegal activity, far below the “probable cause” requirement under the Fourth Amendment.

Title II includes the infamous “sneak and peak” warrants, “roving” wiretaps (without having to name the suspect or his location), and the ability of the FBI to determine, without permission, “the patterns of U.S. citizens. ”

Title V is the home of National Security Letters (NSLs), which are a form of administrative subpoena now frequently used by the FBI to “demand” that a specific entity or organization turn over various records and data pertaining to individuals. There is no probable cause here, nor any judicial oversight, and the terror is compounded by a gag order that prevents the recipient of the demand to inform the individual that his rights have been violated. Ex-FBI agent Michael German said: “What the national security letters do is allow them [the FBI] to collect information about people they don’t suspect of doing anything wrong.”

Liberal movie mogul Michael Moore, in his Fahrenheit 9/11, quoted Congressman Jim McDermott that no one had read the bill before voting on it, and Representative John Conyers as saying: “We don’t read most of the bills. Do you really know what that would entail if we read every bill that we passed?”

The Rutherford Institute’s John Whitehead said that the Patriot Act “drove a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights, violating at least six of the ten original amendments [including] the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments and possibly Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments as well. ” He said also that the Patriot Act

redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience were [now] considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.

Suddenly for the first time in American history, federal agents and police officers were authorized to conduct black bag “sneak and peek” searches of homes and offices and confiscate personal property without first notifying you of their intent or their presence. The law also granted the FBI the right to come to your place of employment, demand your personal records and question your supervisors and fellow employees, all without notifying you; allowed the government access to your medical records, school records and practically every personal record about you; and allowed the government to secretly demand to see records of books or magazines you’ve checked out in any public library and Internet sites you visited. At least 545 libraries received such demands in the first year following passage of the Patriot Act.

Brandon Mayfield experienced early on the vicious power of the Patriot Act when, in 2004, he was arrested as a material suspect in the Madrid train bombings. The FBI said that his fingerprints were on a bag containing detonating devices following the bombings and arrested him, holding him in an undisclosed location under an assumed name. He had no contact with his family or his attorney, and only when an agent leaked to the press the nature of the charges did his family learn of his whereabouts on the evening news!

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