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  • Protecting the PATRIOT Act

    This week, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are set to vote on reauthorization of three key counterterrorism provisions—two found in the PATRIOT Act and one in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. These provisions include:

    1. Roving surveillance authority, which is used by investigators, working within the law, to track a suspected terrorist as he or she moves from cell phone to cell phone.
    2. Business records orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, where business records and similar items are required to be disclosed without a terrorism suspect’s knowledge.
    3. The “lone wolf” provision that allows law enforcement to track non-U.S. citizens acting alone to commit acts of terrorism that are not connected to an organized terrorist group or other foreign power.

    Without legislative action, all three provisions are set to expire—setting up a big problem for law enforcement and intelligence personnel in terms having the right tools to stop terrorism in the future.

    During debate, there will undoubtedly be many arguments that amendments are needed in order to “protect from potential abuses.” This means adding a new round of bureaucratic hoops for investigators to go through before they can actually use the provisions to stop terrorism. Senator Pat Leahy’s (D–VT) USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2011 is one example. It would create more onerous standards for accessing business records that could potentially hamstring the process.

    Members advocating such alterations of the current provisions will argue that such reforms are absolutely necessary to maintain civil liberties. However, these three provisions have been extensively modified in the years since 9/11 with more and more safeguards, including substantial court oversight, appeals, limited application for authorities (including legal thresholds such as “probable cause” for the use of roving surveillance authority), reporting requirements, and congressional oversight. For example, Section 215 protects civil liberties by requiring additional approval for document requests that might have the slightest relation to freedom of speech and expression, such as library records.

    In this way, current provisions have sufficient safeguards to ensure that the rights of Americans are not infringed upon, while giving law enforcement the ability to provide for our common defense. Congress should not get caught up in the myths and hype. The necessity for tools like the PATRIOT Act in combating acts of terrorism, coupled with the act’s numerous safeguards meant to ensure protection of civil liberties, makes reauthorization an obvious choice.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Protecting the PATRIOT Act

    1. Liberty says:

      "Ron Paul is one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national defense. As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our armed forces, and he always puts them first. We need to keep him fighting for our country."

      -Ronald Reagan

    2. John, Rhode Island says:

      PATRIOT Act – proof that conservatives don't care about your rights any more than liberals do.

      Don't think for a second that your rights as an American are safeguarded. Our Justice Department is now claiming that the FBI has the right to get phone records on any call made from inside the US to an international number without any oversight. And when asked what law allows them to do that? They won't even tell you.

      The PATRIOT Act needs to go.

    3. Crutis says:

      I really can't believe that any site dedicated to freedom would be in favor of bolstering a police state via the Patriot Act.

    4. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    5. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      I wish these civil libertarians would be as aggressive in protecting us against abuses resulting from the implementation of other laws such as campaign finance reform and healthcare reform.

    6. Tim AZ says:

      I do understand the importance of the Patriot Act as a tool to ferret out terrorist activity in America and abroad. I also understand that the Patriot Act was a tool that was intended for use by a govt. that understands the importance of maintaining the civil liberties of the American citizenry. Sadly the American people are now captive by a regime that holds nothing but contempt for the civil liberties that are outlined in United States Constitution. It has also come to light that this regime is working with muslim extremist groups who share the same goal of destroying the American way of life every where it exists, as well as in countries that strive towards the American way of life. They operate under the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend until such time as I have no further use for them. This is why many liberals are opposed to the Patriot Act as well. This is a major obstacle in the implementation of the liberals goals when the Patriot Act lies in the hands of a govt. that preserves the civil liberties of Americans. As it stands now we don't enjoy such a govt., so conservatives are not unjust in their uneasiness with the Patriot Act in the hands of this regime. Had enough yet?

    7. Daryl,Houston says:

      I cannot believe that the Heritage Foundation has fallen into the Bush "War On Terror" brainwashing! How is it that we managed to survive the first 250 years of our countries existance without these most important security issues? Lest we forget that no matter how many safeguards are built into these provisions, they all become moot when it is" your "government who has sole authority to define a terrorist. I would not be a bit surprised if the current administration did not classify the Heritage Foundation as a terrorist organization. Think about it! Shame on you! My favorite line is "working within the law". Who the hell writes the laws?

    8. Don Vander Jagt, Gra says:

      The last 10 years are like a bad dream where one finds he was made out to be a fool. Although it started with the 1st Bush Administration it has gotten much worse with each incoming President. Its not that I believe they all were out to destroy America atleast until the present Administration, now I have no doubt in my mind concerning that being what is going on, what puzzels me is why there are not Congressmen/women who don't stop them. Ya know I have never met a dumb lefthander, on the other hand I have never met a wise one either. The whole reaction of government in relation to 9/11 has been foolish. In the first place we already had the Coast Guard and everything we needed to protect ourselves from outsiders should have been addresed by expanding that branch of service. Going to war (which I agreed with at the time because I believed our government) was just as dumb, we should have responded in-kind with carpet bombs on the camps and headquartes of the rats. And we didn't need any such thing as a patriot act which turned out to be a oxymoron. Aliens should enjoy the same rights in America they get in their own country until they quailify and become citizens!

    9. Pingback: Thanks for extending the Patriot Act (now let’s make it permanent) | PARTISANS

    10. Evan says:

      I believe the Patriot Act should be repealed because it has become a dangerous political tool for whatever political party is in power. Lest we forget, under the Obama Admin, the DHS released a report that labeled pro-life, supporters of the second amendment, and our returning veteran conservatives as "Right Wing Extremists." When Bush was president, people backing third party candidates were hit hard with the MIAC Report. I supported Chuck Baldwin for president in 08 and suddenly, I was listed as a possible terrorist. I have participated in numerous Tea Party gatherings and protest only to find out that federal agencies are spying on us, taking pictures and videos of us. What were we doing? Exercising our God-given, constitutional rights and we were doing it peacefully. And not to mention the Fusion centers.

      We cannot trust our own government, but yet we hand them the power that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao would have loved to had access to. And with the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, posse comitatus, etc; if we ever do get a dictator in charge, we the people will be doomed by armed drones, satellites that can identify us by the way we walk, audio surveillance that bounces our voice off of our car wind-shield which is then picked up by satellites, turning on our cell phones, etc. If you have never watched the movie Eagleeye, I highly recommend it. By the way, the spy powers we have now I did not get from the movie Eagleeye.

      The PA is full of abuse. That's a fact. And it's a danger to we the people. It was meant to stop terrorists, not turn peaceful citizens protesting into criminals just for exercising our rights.Not to mention the cost to the taxpayers. If you have not yet read Top Secret American on the WAPO website, I would recommend it.

      I'm really surprised that one of my favorite organizations supports such draconian power that can and has been abused thousands of times.

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