No, this is not “The Onion.” Since it was first introduced in Congress, the over-reaching, flawed, and unconstitutional Patriot Act has been an unconscionable assault on civil liberties. Officially the USA PATRIOT Act — some congressional staffer had a knack for acronyms — the Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 runs over 120 pages and has almost 40,000 words, yet was crafted, drafted, “debated,” voted upon, and signed into law in under six weeks after the 9/11 attacks by the U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush.
Today, Republican U.S. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, the author of the Patriot Act, announced he is shocked that the Patriot Act — likely true most extensive and unconstitutional intrusion upon American civil liberties ever created — is being used to authorize spying on American citizens, as we’ve learned today that the NSA is doing.
“As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation,” Rep. Sensenbrenner says in a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder. “While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses,” the Wisconsin Congressman writes. One would almost expect the next line to read, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in Casa Blanca!”
“The Bureau’s broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act. I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”
So is the Patriot Act.
Two final notes: Americans overall accepted the Patriot Act as necessary after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001. Now that there hasn’t been an attack on U.S. soil of that magnitude, Americans are far less worried — and can pretend they now were against the Patriot Act before they were for it.
Secondly, this has been going on for years. The Patriot Act was George W. Bush’s. But spying on American citizens by their own government has been happening if not for centuries, certainly for decades.
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