Integrity Legal

13th Feb 2011

This blogger writes this blog post with an eye on the news circulating from the United States Congress. As a United States Citizen and as a Citizen of the State of Kansas this blogger would ask the United States Government: think what you are asking America to stomach this February 2011, and then understand our frustration at your seeming unwillingness to properly discuss the issues that impact Americans’ lives most

The question of the so-called Patriot Act. You ask us to support the extension of a bill that, to quote Mr. Bruce Alpert, Times-Picayune on the website

The Patriot Act bill would have renewed the authority for court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones. Also addressed was Section 215, the so-called library records provision that gives the FBI court-approved access to “any tangible thing” relevant to a terrorism investigation.

The third deals with the “lone-wolf” provision of a 2004 anti-terror law that permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-U.S. people not known to be affiliated with a specific terrorist organization.

America, the land of the Free and the home of the Brave allows access to “any tangible thing” relevant to a “terrorism investigation” and calls this compliance with the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution? Furthermore, so-called “roving” wiretaps, a term which could, and possibly should, be interpreted incredibly broadly; may allow government access to a huge range of private personal correspondence at little government effort. The extreme nature of the Patriot Act’s provisions beg the question: why is the issue of the American people being further subjected to the provisions of this law being seemingly fast tracked? Furthermore, why is this legislation being fast tracked in light of recent findings that the FBI may systematically have violated many Americans 4th amendment rights on a regular basis?

As a Citizen of the State of Kansas and as an American Citizen Resident Abroad I must take exception with the proposed extension of the so-called “lone wolf” surveillance noted above. Is this what we want to show our allies (and, dare I say, our enemies) at a time we need their goodwill the most? Are we going to show that we continue to endorse this sort of behavior on the part of our government as it pertains to “non-U.S.” people? Then if it is such a good idea, why not debate the matter? Why attempt to “fast track” this legislation through? Why is there never enough time to discuss these issues? In a recent posting on the website, the poster, Donny Shaw noted how seemingly obsessed the US House of Representatives seems to have recently become with some of the minutia of Congressional business while trying to quickly pass the Patriot Act extension brooking little discussion:

On Wednesday the Rules Committee got together for 10 minutes to decide that extending the three most controversial provisions of the PATRIOT Act would be allowed 1 hour of debate on the floor. The day before that they met for more than an hour and decided to give 9.5 hours of debate to …wait for it… a non-binding resolution directing committees to hold hearings on regulations that businesses don’t like.

Distinguished Gentlemen and Gentlewomen who make up our legislative branch of government, can you see from the above citation how the common American might view your handling of this Patriot Act extension matter as rather, well, perfunctory? I would hope that you do not take this the wrong way, but as a law abiding tax paying Citizen I want some oversight! I want some debate! I want someone to stand up and take notice of the giant wall of lies that has been built up around the Patriot Act and the way in which it is utilized. The 4th Amendment of the Constitution is not just some ordinary document that is tread upon with impunity. The Constitution is woven into the inherent fabric of the American being. The 4th Amendment of the Constitution contains the reference to the preexisting and inalienable right of the People of the United States to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Yes, a RIGHT! Citizens have them. States have them, human beings have them!

When one attempts to restrict or infringe upon something that is inherent to the being of a natural person or a body politic then that person or body politic cries out. This outcry occurs in much the same way as the human body cries out in pain as someone or something tries to harm it. In fact, to capture the zeitgeist of President Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that type of cry from the body politic comes with the “fierce urgency of now!” The body politic is crying out with a fierce urgency and it is crying for an end to the Patriot Act.

112th United States Congress, this blogger asks you to ponder this: personal freedom is not a partisan issue. To quote Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” And to drive home the point further this blogger must quote Republican President Ronald Reagan when he stood at the Eastern outpost of the Free World and demanded at the Brandenburg Gate that the Soviet Union “Tear Down This Wall!” This blogger was a toddler when that event unfolded, but it may be the defining moment of a generation as the shackles of tyranny were loosed and the mighty Titans known as Liberty and Freedom were once again free to take their rightful place in Central and Eastern Europe. These notions have flourished in these locations, but the tree from whence this fruit has sprung is sickly as of late. That is why this blogger urges Congress to tear down this law! Show the world that we are America, land of the free!

This blogger was unhappy to watch a recent YouTube interview in which it was noted by Representative Ron Paul, a staunch opponent of the so-called “Patriot Act,” that the United States Congress was apparently wanting to pass the “Patriot Act” extension “as quietly as possible”. Why does this legislation need to be passed as quietly as possible? Is it because it might be MASSIVELY UNPOPULAR! No one really cares about polls and focus groups when it comes to matters of freedom from government surveillance. To put it simply: people do not like the Patriot Act. In fact, it would appear that notwithstanding little floor time devoted to discussion on the matter of the possible extension, there appears to be a very broad cross-section of the American body politic that does not favor extending the restrictions imposed by the Patriot Act. Representative Dennis Kucinich has recently made his feelings on the matter heard when he noted that it would “behoove the White House to align itself with the Constitution.” Representative Kucinich has also praised the Tea Party movement, or perhaps specifically the core of the Tea Party Movement, for adhering to the Constitution in voting to not extend the any provisions of the so-called Patriot Act. Perhaps the same bi-partisan accolades could be extended to the Republicans? Although this would seem unlikely as the so-called “Mainstream” Section of the Grand Old Party seems to hope for quick passage for the extension of the restriction of Americans’ right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. That said, some “Mainstream” Republicans broke away and voted against the extension. Such activity should be encouraged and hopefully others from the GOP will see “the light” and follow suit.

The Patriot Act, in many ways, is a symbol of everything that is going wrong within the American System. The negative reverberating clang from the Patriot Act can be felt when the American people have their private parts groped prior to boarding virtually any conveyance for air travel. That same reverberation can be felt when body scanners bombard American travelers with questionably healthy levels of radiation. The reverberation can be felt when the free flow of ideas is chilled by legislation designed to stifle the inherent rights guaranteed in the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Constitution is not a “talking point” it is not a “sound bite” it is not a “meme”. It is the Supreme Law of The United States of America and its provisions are to be guarded zealously. The efforts and votes of the triumvirate of the Tea Party Caucus should not be overlooked in this posting. To quote directly from the Washington Post:

The Republicans who voted no Tuesday night included Roscoe G. Bartlett (Md.), Paul Broun (Ga.) and Walter B. Jones (N.C.), all of whom were original members of the House Tea Party Caucus when it was founded last summer.

The administration of this blog highly recommends interested parties click on the link above to read the full posting by the Washington Post and receive a more precise breakdown of the voting on this issue. From all of the evidence presented above, it is clear that the movement to let the Patriot Act expire has been given a boost by the incoming Congress. To the Federal legislators who voted for the Patriot Act extension, bear this in mind; the voters are watching this issue carefully. As a legislator, one could look at this as an opportunity. This blogger must ask any legislators reading this to imagine Bill Murray’s character, Dr. Peter Venkman, in the original Ghostbusters movie when reading the following line: if you, the US Congress vote against this measure, then YOU, the legislators, could save the rights of millions of registered voters!

To those Federal legislators debating which way to vote on this issue, ponder this: you do not need to “enhance your credibility” when you vote in favor of the United States Constitution. There need be no “spin”. You just tell the people something like this: “Yeah, the Patriot Act, it violates our rights, I voted against it, next question.” An easy one, isn’t that a Win-Win? In the era of politics 2.0 the electorate is acutely aware of the activities of our elected representatives and we expect our interests to be taken into consideration when voting on matters that pertain to our civil and Constitutional rights.

To the legislators who voted against the Patriot Act, thank you, your courage will not be forgotten. To those who continue to vote for this legislation please be advised: 2012 is coming and electorate 2.0 has a surprisingly longer memory than you might think.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

For related information please see: Patriot Act Extension.

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