Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dismantling the Wall: Another Brick is Loosened in Patriot Act

Back in October 2001, when the terrorists won the short-lived War on Terror, the Patriot Act was passed by both Congressional bodies and signed into law by Bush. The Patriot Act, and the 9-11 attacks were godsends for Bush and his neo-conservative cronies. That it is now slowly eroding is good news for people who love liberty.

Since its passing in October 2001, elements of the Patriot Act have been ruled unconstitutional by US federal courts or repealed by congress. Example, in 2004 section 2709 was ruled unconstitutional by a district federal court. That section enabled government agents to force internet service providers to reveal personal information of their clients. Example, in 2005 Congress repealed the section of the Patriot Act that gave the government the power to peruse library records using secret FISA courts.

Then when the Patriot Act was reaffirmed in 2006, another provision was added. The provision that Bush almost immediately started utilizing. This was a provision that removed appointment of interim US Attorneys by a federal district judge, and gave the power of appointment to the Attorney General – that is, to Bush.

And now we have that provision of the Patriot Act being shown the door.

In response to the dismissal of 8 US attorneys, and mounting evidence that they were fired for political reasons, and additional evidence that Bush sought to replace them with his cronies, the US Senate voted 94 to 2 to repeal the provision of the Patriot Act that the Bush administration was using to politicize US attorney’s offices.

Specifically it is this: If after 120 days have passed and the president has not nominated, and the Senate has not confirmed a replacement in a US Attorney regional office, the power to appoint an interim US Attorney returns to a federal district court judge where the power had lain before the Patriot Act.

Bush loses some power. When that happens it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Honestly, you are going to have to really try hard to convince me how this later-added provision of the Patriot Act made us safer from the terrorists. It was just another nice bit of power that Bush’s people wanted to add to the Executive Branch - and subtract from the Judical Branch.

You have to ask yourself how many more of these little landmines have been included in that despicable piece of legislation.

It’s probably not a bad idea to perform major surgery and repeal the Patriot Act altogether. If there are good parts to it, and who knows, there might be, you can add them back later.

But for now, to regain our liberty, and to thumb our noses at the terrorists, baby and bathwater both need to go.

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