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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-19-06 09:01 PM
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Compromising Americans’ Civil Liberties
Monday, 20 March 2006, 1:06 pm
Opinion: Walter Brasch

Two weeks before President Bush signed Congressional legislation that made permanent all but two sections of the USA PATRIOT Act, State College, Pennsylvania., became the 397th American community to reaffirm the belief that the Constitution and Bill of Rights take precedence over any federal law. Not one of those resolutions should have been necessary. Nor should the legislatures of eight states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, and Vermont—have had to pass legislation affirming the rights of all Americans. But they had to, and they did.

Encompassed by a nation in fear and a White House that was willing to exert extraordinary pressure to enact a political agenda, Congress overwhelmingly passed the PATRIOT Act six weeks after 9/11. Most members didn’t read any of the 342-page bill, having been given less than 48 hours to do so by the Republican leadership. President Bush had called the Act necessary to defeat the terrorists; Attorney General John Ashcroft had said that anyone not supporting the bill would be aiding the terrorists. There was only one problem in the legislation—it violated six Constitutional amendments. The Act gave wide latitude to the government to search and seize property and to probe sensitive documents, such as medical records, without a court warrant, and to restrict defendants from using the courts to protest the intrusion upon their rights of privacy or even to be allowed to be brought before a court to defend themselves. To mitigate that somewhat inconsequential unconstitutional problem, Congressional leaders inserted a “sunset” clause, calling for 16 of the more controversial 150 sections of the Act to terminate by Dec. 31, 2005. <snip>

While Kranich and her committee were educating residents, the House of Representatives, cowering to Presidential powers, overwhelmingly supported making permanent the entire PATRIOT Act, including those sections that intruded upon civil liberties. The Senate was more reluctant. Fifty-two of the 100 senators, including eight Republicans, wrote a letter to the Senate leadership calling for a three month extension—later raised to six months— to allow for a calming period and a time to build into the four-year-old Act new citizen safeguards. “This obstruction is inexcusable,” a furious President Bush lashed out after learning of the letter, and demanded the Senate follow the wishes of the House. Again invoking the 9/11 Bunker Mentality he had constructed to explain most of his actions, Bush raged that the “senators obstructing the Patriot Act need to understand that the expiration of this vital law will endanger America and will leave us in a weaker position in the fight against brutal killers.” <snip>

Congress made 14 of the 16 “sunset” clauses permanent and extended the other two sections by four years. Congress did allow citizens to challenge the Act’s “gag order” which had forbidden anyone from disclosing they were being investigated, removed a requirement that citizens under any kind of federal suspicion must inform the FBI if they contact an attorney, removed most libraries and bookstores from requirements to disclose who read what book, promised to look into the issue of civil liberties, and then claimed that some minor cosmetic changes was a “compromise.” That “compromise” ends one year after President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney are out of office—and several thousand other Americans will have had their civil liberties compromised.

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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-19-06 09:03 PM
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1. This is just another reason we must win in 2006
and not just with people with a D after their name and not an R. We must make sure those elected to office are as concerned about the Constitution as we are. I fear if we simply vote in wimps, we will be frittering away the last of our rights as those in power take the rest of our powers away.
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BloodedOberon Donating Member (6 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-20-06 09:10 PM
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2. Interesting
Nice to see how political promises endure.
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JHC Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-21-06 08:30 AM
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3. 1984
1984 is coming, it will come with either party eventually but alot faster with the Rs
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cinemaactivist Donating Member (15 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-20-06 03:41 PM
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4. America: Freedom to Fascism
You all need to go see this movie. It comes out on July 28th. It's all about how this country is turning into a police state, and it's freaking scary.
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