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Friday, July 22, 2005

Quote du Jour

I'm embarrassed to be on this side of the aisle.
-- Rep. C. L. Otter (R-ID), referring to how House Rules Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Dachau) stifled debate on rescinding some of the most noxious aspects of the "Patriot" Act.

Billmon reminds us what the "Patriot Act" is all about:

This is probably a good time to remind people what Section 215 gives the government the power to do:

  • Order any person or entity to turn over "any tangible things," so long as the FBI specifies that the order is part of an authorized terrorism or intelligence investigation.
  • Obtain personal data, including medical records, without any specific facts connecting those records to a foreign terrorist.
  • Prohibit doctors and insurance companies from disclosing to their patients that their medical records have been seized by the government.
  • Obtain library and book store records, including lists of books checked out, without any specific facts connecting the records to a foreign agent or terrorist.
  • Obtain private financial records without a court order, and without notification to the person involved.
  • Conduct intelligence investigations of both United States citizens and permanent residents without probable cause, or even reasonable grounds to believe that they are engaged in criminal activity or are agents of a foreign power.
  • Investigate U.S. citizens based in part on their exercise of their First Amendment rights, and non-citizens based solely on their exercise of those rights. (Naturally, decisions about what constitutes "in part" are left to a secret court, meeting secretly.)
  • Those served with Section 215 orders are prohibited from disclosing that fact to anyone -- even their attorney. (This provision was struck down by a U.S. district court last year.)

Section 213 of PATRIOT, meanwhile, allows federal agents to:

  • Conduct secret “sneak and peek” searches of your home.
  • Enter your home or office and seize items for an indefinite period of time, without informing you that a warrant has been issued.

And Section 216 lets the feds:

Seize records that could show the subject lines of your e-mails and the details of your Web surfing habits.
It may be too late, but now would be a good time to use the ACLU's website to tell your congresscritters that you LIKE freedom and liberty and are sick and tired of Nazis like Bush and Sensenbrenner taking them away from you.