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July 21, 2005

Patriot Act Call To Action

-- by Gary Boatwright

Sociatus has it right.

Which brings us to progressive and liberal bloggers at their worst– political junkies engaged in “he said she said” gossip, just like MSM pundits only generally with more thought, facts and intelligence.

I have no objections to political junkies getting their fix. But now would be a good time to take brief break from bingeing. Your country really does need you. Chances are, to be brutally honest, nothing you do over the next few days will make a huge difference either way with Rove or Roberts–not unless you have access to information that even Patrick Fitzgerald or the White House does not. But you can make a huge difference–as a citizen and as blogger–with the Patriot Act

A tad on the rude side, but Sociatus is spot on. This is the real battle and we've been flanked by the wingnuts. It's time to get a move on.


Visit the ACLU's site and e-mail
and-or call Congress. Please spread the word. Protect the 4th Amendment and your other rights. We are in the final hours for the Patriot Act. Take a brief break from the Rove-Roberts controversies, just a few hours, and defend your rights as American citizens.

Thank you.


Posted by Gary Boatwright at July 21, 2005 10:12 PM

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Comments

Thank you for your outstanding work. Please let me also remind people that it's NOT too late.

The House version must be reconciled with the Senate version (S. 1389: A bill to reauthorize and improve the USA PATRIOT Act) before the bill can be submitted for signature into law by the President. Consequently, some analysts–and even some Democratic representatives–understand the House Republicans as engaging in deliberate gamesmanship. What was once unacceptable is now the middle ground, the seemingly "reasonable" compromise.

Be that as it may, the matter now rests with the Senate. For anyone who has not yet done so, please get the contact information for your elected representatives, start with Senate, and politely emphasize that you want our civil liberties better protected.

The House version does not offer adequate protections against Section 215, the problems of which Billmon did a great job in his article. (I also have in PDF (130 kb) a fact sheet–Health, Finance, Guns, Religion and Library).

If you are an American citizen, entirely innocent of any criminal activity or association with terrorism, the Patriot Act still applies to you. Indeed, under Section 215, the FBI


  • does NOT have to show probable cause, or even reasonable grounds to believe, that you were involved in criminal activities;

  • does NOT even need suspicion that you are an agent of a foriegn power or associate with members of a terrorist organization.

Yet the FBI can obtain not only your "business records" (which legally may include "medical records, psychiatric or psychological therapy records, education records, genetic records, insurance records, travel records" and more), but also "any tangible things" related to you.

No warrant. No probable cause required. Let me say that again: no warrant or probable cause required.

Hence why many Americans--politically left, right and center--wonder if we're kissing the 4th Admendment goodbye. I never thought I'd stand back-to-back with Bob Barr, but on this we're brothers in arms. The Patriot Act as it exists in H.R. 3199 does that by--among other things--hollowing out the Fourth Amendment.

Please ask everyone you know not to give the fight now. We're in the final hours and an all-out effort is needed. Please, everyone, contact your Senators.

Posted by: ThomH [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2005 5:19 AM

I appreciate your original post Thomas. You pointed out that the wingnuts fooled us again. Look! Over there! A Rove! Look over there! A Roberts!

In the meantime, The Compassionate Fascism Act passes by an overwhelming majority.

Posted by: Gary Boatwright [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2005 6:19 AM

Thanks for your reply. I think for the most part the liberal and progressive bloggers are doing a great job. Likewise, the attention to Rove and Roberts is terribly important. It just becomes a problem when everything else gets lost. Sorry for the rudeness.

Posted by: ThomH [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2005 7:01 AM

Contribution to the swarm noted at Red, White and Very Blue. Stay on it.

Posted by: The Heretik [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2005 11:17 AM

I dont want to minimize the importance of the Patriot Act. But I think it is also important to talk about it intelligently, whether with friends, co-workers, or our representatives. There are a few things that are essential to keep in mind.

1. The Patriot Act is not all bad. Yes, there are certain provisions that are very, very, very bad, but that is not an indictment of every section, some of which are quite good. Acknowledging that is critical to maintaining credibility when discussing the issue.

2. The problems with the Patriot Act require a fine analyis of the statute. I think that many people are used to measuring excessive governmental intrusion by the nature of the act. Here, we need to educate people that the problem is in the process. Acts that are perfectly acceptable if protected by a requirement that law enforcement obtain probable cause are totalitarian absent oversight protections.

3. Lack of review. What is also disturbing is Congress attempting to remove itself from the process of oversight. One can accept a more aggressive approach to law enforcement if there is some assurance that the legislature will review problems. Abolishing the sunset clauses all but kills any hope of oversight, particularly if Congress is so willling to enact the law without a formal review.

4. The 4th Amendment. It is important to remember that, technically, Congress cannot limit or revoke the 4th Amendment. I mention this because I would be distressed if Patriot Act opponents adopted phrases like "Congress is abolishing the 4th Amendment" and were rebutted with the technically true response that Congress can't limit the reach of the Constitution.

Instead, opponents should be saying that provisions of the Patriot Act are "unconstitutional, but almost impossible to challenge."

Posted by: space [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2005 4:00 PM

Instead, opponents should be saying that provisions of the Patriot Act are "unconstitutional, but almost impossible to challenge."

That comment in particular, and your overall critique in general, strikes me as a distinction without a difference. That the Patriot Act would be unconstitutional if it could be challenged will be precious little comfort to innocent citizen targets of the Bush Crime Family.

The Patriot Act as written is a Constitutional and legislative abomination. The obvious declaration that it could be improved with changes ignores the real threat of the act as written.

Posted by: Gary Boatwright [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 24, 2005 10:35 PM

Space, in the handout and in the blogs I've posted, I've tried to call attention to the specific Sections that most need checks and balances restored.

You claim that (1) some of rhetoric I and other people are using is both excessive and ineffective. And (2) that the Patriot Act can't really hollow out the 4th Amendment because those vicitimized would --eventually-- win on appeal.

In regard to (2), I'm in agreement with Gary's response. Small comfort to those whose lives and fortunes are ruined while all this winds it ways through the courts. Likewise, because of the secret letter powers involved (Section 505), some victims may never get the opportunity to challenge the government.

Finally, Congress has passed unconstitional laws before--and courts, as you know, have struck them down. Some provisions of P ACT 1 have already been ruled in violation of the 4th and 1st Amendment. Sadly, the House in expanding the Patriot Act didn't seem to learn.

If we allow laws to be passed and implemented that effectively hollow out the Bill of rights, as many provisions in the Patriot Act clearly do, it strikes me as only theoretical comfort in the face of real injustice that these practices *could be abolished and these statutes *someday overturned.

Better not to write bad law in the first place, then rush it through without an open and honest discussion.

In regard to (1), you might well be right. I only ask that (a) you please hold everyone to standard--starting perhaps with our elected officials and the MSM; and (b) you look at Sections 215, 213 and 505 very closely and see if these do not also meet your standards for excess.


Posted by: ThomH [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 25, 2005 4:50 PM

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