What is the big damn deal about the Patriot Act?


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Greg Bell
March 9, 2004, 06:56 PM
Please, I'm sick of hearing about the dreaded Patriot Act. What is the big deal?

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Battler
March 9, 2004, 07:03 PM
It treats terrorists like wealth creators and gun owners.

Ozendorph
March 9, 2004, 07:10 PM
Well, I'm hardly a legal scholar, but I think folks take exception to the expanded surveillance powers granted to Federal agents (and the lack of Judicial input on such matters), the potential for non-citizens to be arrested without being charged with a crime and held indefinitely without any form of legal council, and (on a more personal level) the rather broad term "terrorist" being applied even to people charged only with computer-related crimes.

I'm no expert, just going on what I've read and heard.:cool:

Dave R
March 9, 2004, 07:22 PM
Three problems spring to mind.

1. If the investigators label you a terrorist suspect, they can do all manner of searches and wiretaps without obtaining a warrant.

2. A terrorist suspect is defined as whatever we want it to be.

3. If you are a terrorist suspect, we can hold you indefinitely and you lose all manner of rights, including habeus corpus and the right to a speedy trial.

Bottom line is it removes a lot of due process, and gives the Government sweeping new powers to spy on ordinary citizens.

Battler
March 9, 2004, 07:25 PM
I think though, with the multitude of laws and practices already on the books, it's really a moot point in effect.


As for the warrant: What judge is going to deny a warrant to a Fed who says: "We think he's a terrorist and want to search his place"? Has this ever happened in history? They're just saving time; but they can search where they want to anyway.

What is a speedy trial? I'm seeing trials lasting a long time. Where is what constitutes a speedy trial defined? How many days? See my point? It's already arbitrary.

They can pick you up for anything they want, and if the charges don't stick they can get you for some obstruction of justice or tax evasion or something like that.

I'm just warning you - the sheer number of arbitrarily defined and applied laws out there mean that if they want you you're toast, lawyer or not.

Don't get me wrong, Patriot act is bad; but it really just streamlines the process.

Standing Wolf
March 9, 2004, 08:31 PM
The real problem with this act is that it's still going to be on the books when a leftist extremist administration is in power.

spartacus2002
March 9, 2004, 09:00 PM
Roger what Standing Wolf said. Those who believe it won't be abused by Ashcroft need to contemplate Hillary Clinton as Attorney General.

tyme
March 9, 2004, 09:15 PM
I don't think there is Patrot Act provision for indefinite detention of terrorists.

There's an Executive Order that allows something like military detainment/custody/trial of foreign terrorists. Even the EO explicitly excludes U.S. citizens from such treatment. I'm too lazy to go track down a link right now. It was issued sometime between 9/11 and the passage of the PATRIOT act.

IIRC, what the patriot does allow is 7 day detention of terror suspects before charges must be pressed. Many opponents of the PATRIOT act literally would not pass the bill without the 7 day limitation.

Let's not forget that many of the PATRIOT act provisions expire in less than 2 years.

The most common detention procedure after 9/11 was where legal aliens were detained as "material witnesses" for weeks or months. I'm not sure that either the PATRIOT act or Bush's EO gave the government that power; I think it already existed, but had just never been abused (holding suspects as "material witnesses") before.

Standing Wolf
March 10, 2004, 12:36 AM
I'm not concerned about the imaginary American civil rights of non-U.S. citizens.

MacViolinist
March 10, 2004, 12:42 AM
I'm not concerned about the imaginary American civil rights of non-U.S. citizens.

I have a hard time believe a government will respect my civil rights if it doesn't respect the civil rights of others

Greg Bell
March 10, 2004, 12:47 AM
"I have a hard time believe a government will respect my civil rights if it doesn't respect the civil rights of others"


Well, if I was in, say, Germany, and I was involved in terrorist activity, I wouldn't expect to be treated as well as a citizen. That is just common sense. If you are a saboteur in an enemy land expect to be treated as such. It would be idiotic to give everyone on earth the same rights as a U.S. citizen. Hilarious, I can see us reading miranda rights to invading armies. Pow! You have the right to remain silent. BLAM! Anything you say...:D

MacViolinist
March 10, 2004, 01:03 AM
Greg Bell,
I hardly think that one has an obligation to read rights to someone attempting to shoot you, no matter what your citizenship. Anyone that attacks me gives up their civil rights until such a time as I stop shooting. The general point I was making is that there is a certain idea that if you are not a U.S. citizen, then you have no rights. Doesn't that imply that the U.S. Constitution grants you your rights, rather than protecting what already existed?

-drew

ksnecktieman
March 10, 2004, 01:11 AM
Battler? In Kansas a speedy trial is defined in law as,,,,,, If arrested, I have to be formally charged within 48 hours. The trial has to be within 270 days,,,,,,, IF I delay it, the delays I cause do not count in the 270 days.

That is opinion only, I am not a lawyer, or a legal scholar, I only know how long it took them to drop bogus charges against me, and what my lawyer said about why they dropped them on the date they did.

hd1.
March 10, 2004, 08:08 AM
This topic brings to mind the well known quote from Benjamin Franklin:



"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"

Benjamin Franklin

Waitone
March 10, 2004, 01:03 PM
Patriots Act is a stew of provisons government has wanted for decades.
--Number of provisions have been sought by AG's and presidents since Kennedy.
--Past administrations have erected regulations between domestic surveillance and foreign spying which were deliberately designed to keep FBI and CIA from talking.
--Some provisions apply to the war on drugs and no where else. PA made the provisions consistent.
--The enabling legislation was passed before it was read by congress. Only a few staffers actually knew what the act contained.
--At this time the PA seems to have irritated only Arab males between the ages of 16 and 40 with some exceptions. Our system of checks and balances is in the process of defining the nature of this war.

--Biggest concern has to do with what happens when a screaming liberal fascist (Reno--Part Deux) becomes the AG under a president Hillary.

Lots of uncertainty and that is why congress put a sunset provision in effect. All federal legislation should have sunset clauses.

Master Blaster
March 10, 2004, 02:01 PM
The enabling legislation was passed before it was read by congress. Only a few staffers actually knew what the act contained.

This is alarming in and of itself.

dischord
March 10, 2004, 02:16 PM
The likelihood that I will run afoul of the Patriot Act is rather slim -- that doesn't make it any less odious.

I've also never had the inclination to buy any guns covered by the AWB, but that doesn't mean I think it's OK.

Thumper
March 10, 2004, 02:19 PM
I have a hard time believe a government will respect my civil rights if it doesn't respect the civil rights of others

I want the government I fund to respect my civil rights to the point of excluding the civil rights of others.

I'm only partially kidding.

316SS
March 10, 2004, 04:15 PM
The Patriot Act does not suspend the writ of habeas corpus. That was accomplished separately by the Bush Administration. :uhoh:

The Patriot Act only applies to terrorists: arguably untrue, but the real problem is, how is terrorism defined?

This essay (http://www.marxists.de/theory/whatis/terror2.htm) written by Leon Trotsky discusses the issue of an inclusive definition of terrorism. I am not a Marxist, and I become annoyed by the "class-struggle" language in this, but the point about terrorism is well taken.

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. -Ayn Rand

For "crime" read "terrorism", and for "criminal" read " terrorist".

316SS

buzz_knox
March 10, 2004, 04:53 PM
I think folks take exception to the expanded surveillance powers granted to Federal agents (and the lack of Judicial input on such matters), the potential for non-citizens to be arrested without being charged with a crime and held indefinitely without any form of legal council, and (on a more personal level) the rather broad term "terrorist" being applied even to people charged only with computer-related crimes.

1. Surveillance powers: it codifies pre 9/11 practice, and allows for counterterrorist branches to cooperate with anti-crime branches. Not a bad idea, really. As for no judicial input, not hardly.

2. Being held indefinitely without charge: this has nothing to do with the Patriot Act. It is an extension of the President's national security authority, as determined by Civil War era precedent.

3. Terrorist being applied to computer-related crimes: a terrorist is one who uses terror to undermine the social order. If a person uses repeated denial of service attacks to DoD computers to affect terror and undermine national security , aren't they still a terrorist?

buzz_knox
March 10, 2004, 04:55 PM
The Patriot Act does not suspend the writ of habeas corpus. That was accomplished separately by the Bush Administration.

In very limited circumstances, acting on precedent from the Lincoln Administration.

igor
March 10, 2004, 05:33 PM
MacV,
The general point I was making is that there is a certain idea that if you are not a U.S. citizen, then you have no rights. Doesn't that imply that the U.S. Constitution grants you your rights, rather than protecting what already existed?
:scrutiny: :uhoh: :what:

It does, doesn't it?

Leatherneck
March 10, 2004, 05:59 PM
IgorIt does, doesn't it? If by that you mean that the U.S. Constitution GRANTS our rights enumerated therein, I believe you have a flawed understanding of what the Constitution represents. When it was written, it simply codified the rights that the Founding Fathers believed existed naturally or, if you will, had been granted by God. A careful reading of the Constitution and papers of the time will clarify. :scrutiny:

TC
TFL Survivor

corncob
March 10, 2004, 07:02 PM
As I understand it, essentially the Patriot Act (further) blurs the line between law enforcement intelligence gathering (as in, on citizens) and military intelligence gathering (as in, on foriegners). This is bad. According to a US Attourney who was recently on the local talk radio show, now if the latter "accidentally" produces some dirt on me (a citizen) it can be immediately forwarded to law enforcement, who can then arrest and charge me. The trouble here is, even though I am guilty, the 4th amendment no longer prevented the Feds from using their warrantless-search-obtained dirt.

Also note the definition of "financial institution" in Patriot Act II. I can't find it right now, but I'm sure someone has it. Everything is now a "financial institution" for the purposes of intelligence-gathering. It's rediculous--why does the government need to bend the language so far?

I don't know a lot about these kinds of things but this makes me very nervous.

buzz_knox
March 12, 2004, 11:23 AM
As I understand it, essentially the Patriot Act (further) blurs the line between law enforcement intelligence gathering (as in, on citizens) and military intelligence gathering (as in, on foriegners).

Not quite. The way it used to work, if you were gathering intelligence on espionage/terrorist cases, and you found information on an ongoing criminal enterprise, you couldn't give that information (or even discuss it) with the guy in the cubicle next to yours who was working on domestic criminal activities. There was an artificial barrier built up to insure that intelligence operations wouldn't be conducted against American citizens without warrants, etc. The modifications of the Patriot Act remove this wall to the degree that the intelligence operations discovers such information "accidentally". It cannot be used to bypass warrant requirements.

mercedesrules
March 12, 2004, 12:42 PM
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It does, doesn't it?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If by that you mean that the U.S. Constitution GRANTS our rights enumerated therein, I believe you have a flawed understanding of what the Constitution represents. When it was written, it simply codified the rights that the Founding Fathers believed existed naturally or, if you will, had been granted by God. A careful reading of the Constitution and papers of the time will clarify.
I think you missed igor's point, he was arguing that all people have the same rights in answer to this:
(Standing Wolf) I'm not concerned about the imaginary American civil rights of non-U.S. citizens.
igor was answering the question:"Doesn't that imply that the U.S. Constitution grants you your rights, rather than protecting what already existed?" and saying, "Yes, it does imply that." (falsehood)

Right, igor?

MR

316SS
March 12, 2004, 01:13 PM
I wrote:
The Patriot Act does not suspend the writ of habeas corpus. That was accomplished separately by the Bush Administration.

buzz_knox wrote:
In very limited circumstances, acting on precedent from the Lincoln Administration.

Don't forget the precedent of Japanese-American internment during WWII.

The Bush administration so far has been willing to provide no evidence, only the claim that they have good reason to hold citizens as enemy combatants. Just because this tactic has been applied in only a few circumstances (so far), doesn't mean its limited to just a few. The only thing between you or I and a midnight trip to Gitmo is a trumped up domestic-terrorism charge.

316SS

moa
March 12, 2004, 01:24 PM
Suspension of Habeus Corpus is written into the Constitution. It can be employed during times of revolt. Lincoln was probably within his authority to suspend Habeus Corpus.

However, like the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, I do not think Bush, nor anybody else, has the authority to suspend Habeus Corpus absent widespread revolt.

I think on the things that PA did was extend the ability to allow the authorities to conduct "sneak-and-peak" search warrants were the subject does not know, and is not advised right away, that search warrant has been executed.

I remember reading that PA I was over 400 pages long, and probably very few if any people who voted for it at that time, actually read it.

mercedesrules
March 12, 2004, 01:35 PM
(moa) Suspension of Habeus Corpus is written into the Constitution. It can be employed during times of revolt. Lincoln was probably within his authority to suspend Habeus Corpus.
The South didn't revolt - they seceded. Secession was widely recognized then as a right. IMO, Lincoln wrongly suspended habeus corpus and wrongly forced the South to rejoin the "Union".

MR

moa
March 12, 2004, 02:28 PM
Mercederules, you may be correct in saying that the Southerns thought they were seceding. But Lincoln labeled it in a state of rebellion, which IIRC, is the word actually used in the Constitution to enable the invoking of the suspension of Habeus Corpus.

I remember reading that at least three of the original 13 States had ratified the Constitution with the option to secede. Virginia was one of them.

Feanaro
March 12, 2004, 02:48 PM
Most of the Patriot Act is rather benign, even helpful. But certain sections, like section 505, are a little worrying.

505 authorizes the attorney general or a delegate to compel holders of your personal records to turn them over to the government, simply by writing a "national security" letter. This existed before the Patriot Act but under the Patriot Act they can issued against ANYONE. Connected to foreign powers and intelligence or not. These letters may now be issued independently by FBI field offices, rather than by senior officials. And they require no judicial review. The records that may be turned over include telephone logs, e-mail logs, certain financial and bank records, and credit reports, if such information is "relevant" to an ongoing terrorism investigation. They cannot, however, be used in ordinary criminal investigations. Those forced to turn over records with this are gagged from disclosing the demand.

As a side note, the entire six page list of 2003 National Security Letters is blacked out. Most of the hubbub about the Patriot Act is a knee-jerk reaction. But some of the sections could potentially be abused. They aren't that bad, necessarily, but freedom has to be guarded jealously.

mercedesrules
March 12, 2004, 03:01 PM
(moa) But Lincoln labeled it in a state of rebellion,
Can we agree that the South didn't try to overthrow the existing federal government?

MR

moa
March 12, 2004, 03:16 PM
From the American Heritage Dictionary:

rebellion

SYLLABICATION: re·bel·lion



NOUN: 1. Open, armed, and organized resistance to a constituted government. 2. An act or a show of defiance toward an authority or established convention.
ETYMOLOGY: Middle English, from Old French, from Latin rebelli, rebellin-, from rebellre, to rebel. See rebel.

This is about as technical as I can get. :D

M67
March 12, 2004, 04:56 PM
Don't get me wrong, Patriot act is bad; but it really just streamlines the process. Don't get me wrong, but I bet a lot of Germans said something like that in the early 1930s...

Malone LaVeigh
March 12, 2004, 05:48 PM
What's the big damn deal about the GCA of 1933? I don't need no mochine gun.

What's the big damn deal about the GCA of 1968? I don't need to order any guns by mail-order.

What's the big damn deal about the Calif waiting period? I don't need a gun in the next 10 days.

What's the big damn deal about the AWB? It's just a few cosmetic things, anyway.

What's the big damn deal about the Calif handgun safely law? I didn't want one of those old pistols anyway.

dustind
March 17, 2004, 11:17 PM
As for the warrant: What judge is going to deny a warrant to a Fed who says: "We think he's a terrorist and want to search his place"? Has this ever happened in history? They're just saving time; but they can search where they want to anyway. Battler: If I recall the judges have gotten over 15,000 requests and only asked that a few be rewritten. They have never denied a single warrant.

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