30 September 2004

Patriot Act on the way out?

According to an article by Larry Neumeister, on Wednesday U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero struck down the provision that allowed the FBI to gather phone and Web records and prevented service providers from disclosing the search took place. The judge cited infringements on 1st and 5th Ammendment rights. That ass Ashcroft has already stated that he will probably appeal the ruling. This is the second time a judge has ruled part of the act unconstitutional. The love for this act, in spite of its infringement on consititional rights, clearly demonstrates how little the so-called "defenders of the constitution" who sit on the right care about that tired old rag called the U.S. Constitution.

According to Marrero, a "state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens." What a novel idea! To those who oppose this notion, I'd like to point out that the Constitution was penned between two major wars with what was then the world's only superpower. With this in mind, it's hard to believe that the constitution's framers expected it to only apply during peaceful times or that its provisions are to be put on hold everytime U.S. troops are sent overseas to topple a third world puppet (an event that seems to happen every couple years, after all).

Kerry and Bush have both supported the act. Among senators, Russ Feingold (Democrat), Royle Melton (Republican), Carlo Poliak (Republican), David Schumann (Independent), and Ken Wegner (Republican) are just a few of those who have voiced opposition. Meanwhile, political figures from both sides of the political spectrum have opposed the act, to include Cobbs (Green presidential candidate), Trainor (Libertarian active in anti-Patriot Act campaign), and Al Sharpton.

For background information, I'd recommend Cathrine Dauenhauer's July 2003 article and subsequent July 2004 article on Common Dreams.

    In other related news:
  • The House Plans to Revive Parts of Patriot Act II as Senate 9/11 Commission Bill Advances

  • Dave Justus (in his prompt comment) has pointed me to the following post on the Volokh Conspiracy:

    "As I noted in my post below, a recent decision of the Southern District of New York struck down part of a 1986 law known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. How does the press report the decision? No mention of the 1986 law, of course. Instead, the press is reporting that the court struck down a major part of the Patriot Act, in a blow to the Bush Administration's overzealous response to terrorism. As I trace the history of the statute, this is quite inaccurate: the basic law was implemented in 1986, almost 20 years ago. To be fair, the Patriot Act did amend some language in this section; just not in a relevant way. As best I can tell, the court's decision does not rely on or even address anything in the Patriot Act. (See page 14-22 of the Court's opinion for the details of the statute's history.) But of course you don't get that from the mainstream press, which likes to report everything related to terorrism as if it were the Patriot Act."

P.S. For an international perspective, you can read the discussion on Raben Horst (German).


Dave Justus said...

The reporting on this has been a bit wrong. The law in question was not the Patriot Act (although the Patriot Act did modify this law slightly)

See here for more details.

I am open to discussions on specific parts of the Patriot Act, but anyone who says the Patriot Act is 'Good' or 'Bad' probably doesn't understand the issue very well.

Parts of it are obviously needed, parts are questionable as to the balance of liberty and security. Also, it is certainly fair to entertain the idea that technology changes things (both allowing people to hide more effectively and allowing the government more dangerous powers) this fact needs to be acknowledged and addressed in any debate on the subject.

Karlo said...

One aspect of the act that I find strange is that it targets U.S. citizens. The 9/11 attacks were committed by foreigners who don't have any constitutional rights in the U.S. according to U.S. law prior the the act. This being the case, why does the U.S. government suddently require the ability to access my library records?