That’s right boys and girls, the US Senate couldn’t get its act together to renew the USA PATRIOT Act, which is officially THE most REPRESSIVE piece of legislative crap since the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the Alien and Sedition acts. The House of Representatives renewed it with record speed, but not the Senate, because it was filibustered by a group of Democrats AND Republicans.
So on January 1 of 2006, several key elements of the PATRIOT Act will expire, including some of the most ANTI-AMERICAN measures that were written in AFTER members of Congress voted for it! The simple fact that this law was voted on BEFORE IT WAS EVEN WRITTEN and made available for people to read (even if these corrupt bastards don’t bother reading the bills before them) should have been a clear warning for the American people.
Let’s not forget that several states and HUNDREDS of communities all across America have filed official complaints with the PATRIOT Act since it was rushed through Congress and signed into law in 2001. This was a pretty Orwellian piece of work imposed on the American people, and once the public’s panic over 9/11 diminished they realized just what the hell happened, and they quite simply didn’t like it!
When you have an issue that brings liberals, conservatives, AND libertarians together in opposition, we’re talking about a SERIOUSLY BAD LAW! And that’s what this is, folks.
Yes, Congress RUSHED through this, and partly because of the mystery person who sent letters laced with Anthrax to members of Congress. They responded to FEAR just like the rest of us did. They were told to blindly approve this law and to put their absolute faith in the Bush Imperium, and they did.
By the way, we never found out who the mystery sender was, did we? The FBI had some ideas as to who COULD have done it, but there hasn’t been a suspect, has there? And no terrorist organization ever took credit for the actual Anthrax attacks. Isn’t that strange? Here we had al Qaeda boasting about bombing New York and Washington and Arabs in general cheering over 9/11, but nobody said a word about the Anthrax attacks. Not one peep from al Qaeda or the Islamic Jihad or any of the other known terrorist organizations. That opens the door to some SERIOUSLY DESPICABLE theories that would no doubt scare the crap out of the average American. (Think Karl Rove and "Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy" to get a hint.)
And, of course, the Imperium pulled out all of the stops, and they’re STILL pulling out all of the stops, to not only get the PATRIOT Act renewed, but made permanent AND have even more anti-American restrictions put in. Every restrictive Orwellian and neo-Nazi measure that you could even come up with was contemplated. Thinks like losing your status as a US citizen (even if you were born in this country) if you are even SUSPECTED of having anything to do with terrorism. Warantless searches, warantless seizures, being able to arrest someone and detain them indefinitely…
And ponder this for a minute: all of these measures wouldn’t just be used against accused terrorists. As it has been documented, each and EVERY provision in the PATIROT Act could also be used for other suspected criminal activities as well! All that law enforcement needs to do is hint that the suspected activity MIGHT have something to do with terrorism and they can invoke the PATRIOT Act, even though the activity itself would have nothing at all to do with terrorism.
Accountability? Judicial review? Virtually non-existent. The only "review" of the process is in-house. Then we have to accept the "word" of the Attorney General that no abuses of the law ever took place, because there’s no other way to conform or deny that they ever happened. This from an Attorney General who reportedly called the US Constitution "an outdated document" and was responsible for writing the rules of torture that were invoked after 9/11.
Bush Junior still call these things "necessary tools in the War on Terror". Maybe that excuse can be used for China or the old Soviet Union, but in a country that CLAIMS to cherish freedom, calling the PATRIOT Act a "necessary tool" is like calling Napalm a "necessary tool" for lancing a boil. This, of course, from the man who reportedly screamed that the US Constitution is nothing more than a "goddamned piece of paper!"
If you were to listen to the supporters of the PATRIOT Act, you’d think that the United States of America would suddenly cease to exist after January 1st if this law wasn’t renewed. "America is DOOMED… DOOMED, I tell you! Terrorists will run amok if this law doesn’t get properly renewed and made permanent and with new provisions and restrictions put in there! Federal investigators would be UTTERLY HELPLESS to stop the endless WAVES of terrorists that would invade our shores. And how can we expect to bring freedom to the rest of the world if we’re not willing to sacrifice it here?"
Meanwhile, Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire rightly invoked Benjamin Franklin’s warning about those who give up essential liberties to attain temporary safety. Even the former "King of Pork" and ex-KKK member Senator Robert Byrd was waxing nostalgic about how the founding fathers would never have invoked this kind of law. (Never mind that they did just that through the Alien and Sedition Acts… oops.)
And yet… looking beyond the rhetoric, you’d learn that only ONE-TENTH of the PATRIOT Act would be set to expire! ONE-TENTH! Most of that law would STILL be on the books and STILL be enforced! And even with those elements expiring, the government could STILL invoke them for investigations that started prior to 1/1/06. That’s a lot of fuss over a couple of provisions.
Do know what else didn’t help the Imperium any? The revelation that the Pentagon and the National Security Agency were caught investigating organizations and individuals INSIDE the United States, in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. And the Imperium’s outright REFUSAL to help in the Congressional investigation into that violation didn’t help any. You want the Senate’s help to renew the PATRIOT Act, yet you spit in their face about possible abuses of that same law? What the hell is wrong with you people?
So SHAME on the Bush Imperium and their soothsaying spin machine! SHAME on them for pompously thinking that the US Senate would still knee-jerk to their goose-stepping. If they want to be pissed off about the filibuster, they have nobody to blame but THEMSEVLES for this. They should have at least pledged cooperation over the intelligence investigation instead of throwing it back in their faces and screaming "You don’t need to know that!"
The scary part, however, is that this isn’t the end. The President has one more card that he can play, and it’s one that nobody outside of yours truly has thought of. Bush Junior could always issue an Executive Order requiring those provisions remain intact until Congress approves a NEW version of the PATIROT Act. Sure the members of Congress would scream to the high heavens in outrage, and so would many Americans. But it wouldn’t matter. If the president really does believe that the Constitution is nothing more than a "goddamned piece of paper", then he’ll issue that executive order, and he might even do so during his live address to the nation from the Oval Office this Sunday night. It would be, after all, the perfect forum for letting the whole nation know that he places SECURITY over the very freedom he claims to cherish.
"So this is how liberty ends… with thunderous applause." – Star Wars: Episode III