Posts Tagged ‘patriot act’

Follow-Up on the PATRIOT Act.

9. February 2011

Well, you all did it, congratulations! The PATRIOT Act failed to receive the necessary two-thirds of votes necessary to pass it on the suspension calendar, so the three provisions that were set to expire will now do so, it seems. They were eight votes short of the two-thirds majority and the eight votes that were being counted upon by the GOP leadership that did not vote for the Act were all tea party freshmen. To them, I extend my greatest thanks.

I know my Representative voted for the legislation again, but if you don’t know how yours voted, you can go here and see. Democrats are italicized, Republicans are not, North Texan representatives are all in the Yea box.

As this was assumed by all–including me, to be honest–to be a sure thing to vote to extend the sunset provision, I believe that this has been an important step in refocusing our nation’s security practices back into the realm of constitutionality and sanity. When we find that the government’s capacity to “keep its citizens safe” (although that is fully an impossibility, but I will address this fact in a separate post) is not diminished after the hopeful retirement of the PATRIOT Act, I hope that we as a nation will see how silly and counterproductive that legislation was.

What good is living “safely” if you are not free to live securely in your person, without fear of arbitrary and unannounced government intrusion therein?



7. February 2011

The USA PATRIOT Act is up for reauthorization in the House tomorrow. Unfortunately, there are only forty minutes of scheduled debate and no opportunities for amendments. Please write your Representative and tell them not to vote for it under these conditions. The PATRIOT Act abridges your rights in the name of national security. A power so unlimited in the hands of the government deserves to be well-regulated and well-debated.

If you would like to write your Representative, I have a form letter below that you may feel free to use, or you may compose your own email.

Representative __________,
I implore you, do not vote for a suspension calendar with the USA PATRIOT Act on it. Though terrorism can be a threat, there are more effective ways to fight it than allowing for a suspension of Americans’ constitutional rights and allowing roving wiretaps, secret searches and other breaches of personal privacy and security.

You certainly have the security of the nation at heart, of that I have no doubt, but I beg you to recognize that by supporting an Act of dubious constitutionality and the restriction of law-abiding Americans’ rights, you might be inadvertently bringing about the end goal of the terrorists: the destruction of the American society which you and I both value so greatly.

Thank you for your time,

If you would like to write your Representative but are unsure who that is, you may quickly find that information here.

CPAC: Day Two

20. February 2010

Today was my “slow day” at CPAC. There were fewer speakers that I wanted to see today, but the one panel discussion I desperately wanted to catch was about the relationship between liberty and security. The panelists were Rep. Dan Lungren, Robert Ash, Jim Gilmore, Bob Barr and Viet Dinh. The range of opinions represented was quite broad; from a Republican developer of the USA PATRIOT Act to, well, Bob Barr.

As of late, I’ve been having trouble reconciling my foreign policy views with all of my other views. Specifically, though I believe ultimately in freedom and liberty for all, I also tend to be more of a traditional Republican regarding war, national defense and terrorism. I had hoped that someone on this panel would present some strong arguments. Unfortunately, each “side” presented good arguments in support of its conclusion.

My problem is that I find the hands-off, anti-war position adopted by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) unrealistic and rather na├»ve, though I understand that he’s one to stand in the face of armageddon and stick by his principles. I also find the USA PATRIOT Act, “it’s a matter of national security” secrecy of the pro-war Republicans as seen in the last administration can, in the wrong hands, be tyrannical. It is exactly this that I fear and wish to avoid with a smaller government.

Last night, at his Campaign for Liberty address, Rep. Paul expressed his opinion that Osama bin Laden wants the United States to send more troops because he can use that as a recruiting tool. Whatever the truth value of this claim may be, I find it hard to believe that very many young men would be willing to strap bombs on their backs and try to kill people just because of the presence of American soldiers in their country. I believe that the reasons that would do that have more to do with a misinterpretation (or, perhaps a selective interpretation) of their religious text.

In contrast, though I am not a terrorist, I don’t want the government listening in on my telephone calls without having secured a warrant. In the panel discussion today, Mr. Gilmore said that he believed that subjecting warrantless wiretapping to judicial review was a valid move. I find that I must agree. I would consider that to be an invasion of my privacy, and if abortion is upheld in the court by means of an argument in favor of privacy, surely a phone conversation between two citizens can be also. Regardless, if one is suspected of plotting against this nation and its residents, it should be relatively easy to obtain a warrant.

I suppose that strictly hypothetically, my foreign policy views are just as libertarian as the rest of my views. In a perfect world, no one would want to kill me because I’m an American. They would realize how unproductive that is. However, realistically, I am more conservative than libertarian. Specifically regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, I would like to wipe out Al Qaeda and get the hell out of there. Let’s complete our mission and get the American forces out. Leave NATO peacekeeping forces in there to help ensure stability, but even then only a minimal number should be present. And after that, let’s see if we can stick to a relatively warless future. Let’s simply carry the bigger stick (with an emphasis on defensive weaponry) so that we don’t have to use it.

As Bob Barr said today at the panel discussion, “In order to protect, preserve and defend, we must limit the government.” The USA PATRIOT Act and all other similar pieces of legislation do not limit the government, they expand it and expand its powers. If we simply bring the government into uniformity with the Constitution, we’ll all have a lot less to worry about.

If you want to look at my pictures from the panel discussion and other events at CPAC today, you can go to my Flickr page.