Friday, November 6, 2009

No Change on Patriot Act Powers As Promised?

When Barack Obama was running for office, he harshly criticized the intrusions into US citizens’ privacy and promised to bring them to an end.  If the following is true, he is breaking faith with the American People and needs to be told to deliver the change he promised.

Patriot-Act The USA Patriot Act, rushed into law by a panicky U.S. Congress in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, gave the government broad surveillance powers to spy on innocent citizens. But it also stipulated that three of its more controversial provisions should expire next month unless reapproved by lawmakers.

And it appears that reapproval may be about to happen - evidently with a green light from the Barack Obama administration and over strong objections from human rights and civil liberties groups.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the USA Patriot Act Extension Act of 2009. The bill makes only minor changes to the original Patriot Act and was further watered down by amendments adopted during the committee's deliberations.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee had the opportunity to pass legislation to rein in a bill that has become a symbol of out-of-control government invasions of your privacy. They failed - approving a bill that does little to curtail the sweeping powers embedded in the Patriot Act," said the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The committee's actions were driven by "short-term and political considerations", Chip Pitts, president of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, told IPS.

The Judiciary Committee ignored "the need for a more sensible long-term, reasoned, rule-of-law approach", he said.

Now, civil libertarians are looking to the House of Representatives, where that body's Judiciary Committee has already begun to consider the measure. Both chambers must produce versions of the legislation, after which differences will be reconciled by a bicameral conference committee.

There are three sections of the law due to expire next month.

The "National Security Letter (NSL)" provision…

The "Material Support" Statute…

The FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act of 2008... [emphasis original]

Inserted from <Common Dreams>

This is not what I had in mind when I supported Obama’s candidacy.  I am thankful that we have him as President rather that McConJob, but he needs to be accountable to the people who elected him.  As this bill moves through the House, I will oppose the extension.  To read a detailed explanation of each section, click through to the original article.


rjs said...

Obama's latest use of "secrecy" to shield presidential lawbreaking- The Obama administration has, yet again, asserted the broadest and most radical version of the "state secrets" privilege -- which previously caused so much controversy and turmoil among loyal Democrats (when used by Bush/Cheney) -- to attempt to block courts from ruling on the legality of the government's domestic surveillance activities. Obama did so again this past Friday -- just six weeks after the DOJ announced voluntary new internal guidelines which, it insisted, would prevent abuses of the state secrets privilege. Instead -- as predicted -- the DOJ continues to embrace the very same "state secrets" theories of the Bush administration -- which Democrats generally and Barack Obama specifically once vehemently condemned -- and is doing so in order literally to shield the President from judicial review or accountability when he is accused of breaking the law.

TomCat said...

RJ, sad but true. In Obama's defense, many of these cases are a continuation of work started under the Bush regime. Also, the DOJ is packed with moles, political 'appointees' chosen for ideological purity who burrowed in as 'career employees' before the Bush regime lost power. However, he needs to take control.