patriot act

Four Reasons to Repeal the Patriot Act

October 26th, 2011 8:19 pm  |  by  |  Published in congress, DownsizeDC.org, Liberty, patriot act, privacy  |  6 Responses

Quote of the Day: “In seeking the needle of terrorism, we have built the biggest haystack in history.” – Zachary Katznelson

Ten years ago this month, Congress passed the so-called Patriot Act without taking the time to read or debate it. It was signed into law on October 26, 2001. This tenth anniversary is the perfect time to call for its repeal.

That’s why I wrote the following letter. We encourage you to write a letter of your own, or copy or borrow from this…

The Patriot Act should never have been passed. Ten years later, it should be repealed for at least four reasons…

First, the Patriot Act attacks the First Amendment…

* Americans can be investigated for what they read and write, and what websites they’ve visited
* The Feds can “gag” my bank, my librarian, and my Internet Service Provider, preventing them from telling me if I’m under investigation

Second, it undermines the Fourth Amendment… Read More »

Rand Paul, Fearless Superstar of Liberty

May 27th, 2011 11:58 pm  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Debt, Election, government spending, Gun Control, Liberty, Maven Commentary, patriot act, Rand Paul  |  9 Responses

Rand Paul, not even 1 year in the U.S. Senate, is already creating a legacy for himself. And if you believe in the Constitution and the human liberty it protects then it looks good, very good. Paul has been steadfast and fearless when it comes to remaining true to his campaign promises. This is an anomaly in the float-with-the-current like a rotten log cesspool that is Washington DC circa 2011.

Paul has pushed for balancing the budget aggressively, stood up for consumer choice, and all the while doing everything in his power to cut government spending. Now, he’s revealing his diamond-tough huevos by going up against the whimsical idiot-savants of hypocrisy in his own party and the truth-bending emotionally-charged demagogues on the other side. His only allegiances are his promises and the U.S. Constitution. If enough of his peers in DC started doing the same our Founding Fathers might stop rolling over and over in their graves to salute the flag once again.

Listen here to Rand Paul discussing recent renewal vote on The PATRIOT Act with everyone’s favorite Neo-Conservative whipping boy, Sean Hannity (from Hannity’s radio show). Near the end Rand Paul reveals who he may vote for in the upcoming POTUS 2012 election and touches on his own potential aspirations for that same office.

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Patriot Act Deadline Looms

May 18th, 2011 8:05 pm  |  by  |  Published in Activism, Big Government, Civil Liberties, congress, Constitution, patriot act  |  2 Responses

Quotes of the Day:

I called the Speaker and Leader today and emailed my representatives.  Thanks for encouraging me to do so.  It feels good, real good.” — Will Ashby, DC Downsizer

“GOP leaders argue that extending the PATRIOT Act is especially important because the killing of Osama bin Laden might inspire retaliatory terrorist attacks against Americans. Call me cynical, but had Bin Laden not yet been killed or captured, I’m sure that these same GOP leaders would argue that extending the PATRIOT Act is especially important because Osama bin Laden remains on the loose.” – Don Boudreaux

Three controversial provisions of the so-called Patriot Act are set to expire on May 27.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, has introduced a bill that would make one of these provisions PERMANENT and would extend the other two for SIX YEARS.

This bill will likely be debated and voted on in the House next week.

We need you to CALL your Representative to encourage him or her to oppose this bill. Start here: https://secure.downsizedc.org/etp/campaigns/129

Read More »

Did the FBI Spy On Your Kids?

April 5th, 2011 10:33 pm  |  by  |  Published in Activism, Big Government, congress, DownsizeDC.org, patriot act, privacy  |  Comments Off

Quote of the Day: “The problem isn’t the abuse of power, it’s the power to abuse.” — Michael Cloud

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging people to call the White House TODAY, and urge President Obama to veto any Patriot Act renewal that doesn’t contain civil liberties protections.

We agree. This is a good opportunity to remind the President that he promised to reform the Patriot Act when he was a candidate.

You can learn more at the EFF website, and we borrow some language from here in our letter below.

But we need to maintain our pressure on Congress too . . .

* Tell Congress you want them to REPEAL the Patriot Act outright
* Any renewal must contain the strongest possible civil liberties provisions

Please tell Congress what you want.

The hardwired message says, “Repeal the Patriot Act. Do NOT renew any of its provisions.”

You may borrow from or copy these additional comments . . . Read More »

Should the FBI Know How Many Guns You Own?

March 21st, 2011 11:49 pm  |  by  |  Published in Activism, Big Government, congress, Constitution, DownsizeDC.org, Gun Control, patriot act, Second Amendment  |  Comments Off

The “library records” provision of the so-called Patriot Act could also be known as the “gun records” provision, because it also allows the FBI to seize the forms you use to buy guns.

This infamous provision, Section 215, is a direct assault on your Fourth Amendment rights because it allows the FBI to obtain personal information about you, without a warrant and without your knowledge.

Section 215 is set to expire in May, along with two other provisions. But Congress will probably renew these provisions unless it hears from YOU.

Tell Congress to repeal the ENTIRE Patriot Act, and renew NONE of its provisions.

You may borrow from or copy this letter . . . Read More »

Rand Paul puts liberty back in the Tea Party

February 24th, 2011 1:08 am  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Books, Civil Liberties, congress, Constitution, Debt, Economics, foreign aid, Foreign Policy, Free Market, government spending, Individual Responsibility, Liberty, Market Regulation, patriot act, Ron Paul  |  Comments Off

About half-way through Rand Paul’s new book, “The Tea Party Goes to Washington“, makes me realize that he is trying to really put liberty back into the Tea Party as it was meant to be from the beginning. Making the media rounds yesterday and today, he is spreading that sweet message of freedom like his father. He is scheduled to be on Late Night with David Letterman tonight as well as Hannity’s TV show. Yesterday he was on ABC’s Good Morning America, Nightline, and Hannity’s radio show.

Here is his GMA appearance:

Here is his interview with Hannity on the radio:

Go, Rand, go.

Rand Paul on Fox and Friends

February 17th, 2011 10:04 pm  |  by  |  Published in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Economics, government spending, patriot act, Rand Paul  |  Comments Off

Rand Paul appeared on Fox and Friends yesterday to discuss the budget and his patriotic and constitutional position on opposing the extension of the PATRIOT Act.

How would a patriot act? Like Rand Paul, of course.

February 15th, 2011 1:11 pm  |  by  |  Published in Civil Liberties, Constitution, Liberty, patriot act, Rand Paul  |  2 Responses

While most of his Republican colleagues are ignoring their oath when it comes to extending the PATRIOT Act, Rand Paul is instead acting like a true patriot by upholding his oath to the Constitution. Here is a letter he has sent to his colleagues urging them to vote against extending certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act. This is definitely bold for a freshman senator, and I for one love it. It is long but worth reading.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Rand Paul (Ky.) released the following Dear Colleague letter to his fellow Senators this morning regarding the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Dear Colleague:

James Otis argued against general warrants and writs of assistance that were issued by British soldiers without judicial review and that did not name the subject or items to be searched.

He condemned these general warrants as “the worst instrument[s] of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty and the fundamental principles of law, that ever w[ere] found in an English law book.” Otis objected to these writs of assistance because they “placed the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer.” The Fourth Amendment was intended to guarantee that only judges—not soldiers or policemen—would issue warrants. Otis’ battle against warrantless searches led to our Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable government intrusion.

My main objection to the PATRIOT Act is that searches that should require a judge’s warrant are performed with a letter from an FBI agent—a National Security Letter (“NSL”).

I object to these warrantless searches being performed on United States citizens. I object to the 200,000 NSL searches that have been performed without a judge’s warrant.

I object to over 2 million searches of bank records, called Suspicious Activity Reports, performed on U.S. citizens without a judge’s warrant.

As February 28th approaches, with three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act set to expire, it is time to re-consider this question: Do the many provisions of this bill, which were enacted in such haste after 9/11, have an actual basis in our Constitution, and are they even necessary to achieve valid law-enforcement goals?

The USA PATRIOT Act, passed in the wake of the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, is no doubt well-intentioned. However, rather than examine what went wrong, and fix the problems, Congress instead hastily passed a long-standing wish list of power grabs like warrantless searches and roving wiretaps. The government greatly expanded its own power, ignoring obvious answers in favor of the permanent expansion of a police state.

It is not acceptable to willfully ignore the most basic provisions of our Constitution—in this case—the Fourth and First Amendments—in the name of “security.”

For example, one of the three provisions set to expire on February 28th—the “library provision,” section 215 of the PATRIOT Act—allows the government to obtain records from a person or entity by making only the minimal showing of “relevance” to an international terrorism or espionage investigation. This provision also imposes a year-long nondisclosure, or “gag” order. “Relevance” is a far cry from the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of probable cause. Likewise, the “roving wiretap” provision, section 206 of the PATRIOT Act, which is also scheduled to expire on the 28th, does not comply with the Fourth Amendment. This provision makes possible “John Doe roving wiretaps,” which do not require the government to name the target of the wiretap, nor to identify the specific place or facility to be monitored. This bears an uncanny resemblance to the Writs of Assistance fought against by Otis and the American colonists.

Other provisions of the PATRIOT Act previously made permanent and not scheduled to expire present even greater concerns. These include the use and abuse by the FBI of so-called National Security Letters. These secret demand letters, which allow the government to obtain financial records and other sensitive information held by Internet Service Providers, banks, credit companies, and telephone carriers—all without appropriate judicial oversight—also impose a gag order on recipients.

NSL abuse has been and likely continues to be rampant. The widely-circulated 2007 report issued by the Inspector General from the Department of Justice documents “widespread and serious misuse of the FBI’s national security letter authorities. In many instances, the FBI’s misuse of national security letters violated NSL statutes, Attorney General Guidelines, or the FBI’s own internal policies.” Another audit released in 2008 revealed similar abuses, including the fact that the FBI had issued inappropriate “blanket NSLs” that did not comply with FBI policy, and which allowed the FBI to obtain data on 3,860 telephone numbers by issuing only eleven “blanket NSLs.” The 2008 audit also confirmed that the FBI increasingly used NSLs to seek information on U.S. citizens. From 2003 to 2006, almost 200,000 NSL requests were issued. In 2006 alone, almost 60% of the 49,425 requests were issued specifically for investigations of U.S. citizens or legal aliens.

In addition, First Amendment advocates should be concerned about an especially troubling aspect of the 2008 audit, which documented a situation in which the FBI applied to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to obtain a section 215 order. The Court denied the order on First Amendment grounds. Not to be deterred, the FBI simply used an NSL to obtain the same information.

A recent report released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) entitled, “Patterns of Misconduct: FBI Intelligence Violations from 2001-2008,” documents further NSL abuse. EFF estimates that, based on the proportion of violations reported to the Intelligence Oversight Board and the FBI’s own statements regarding NSL violations, the actual number of violations that may have occurred since 2001 could approach 40,000 violations of law, Executive Order, and other regulations.

Yet another troublesome (and now permanent) provision of the PATRIOT Act is the expansion of Suspicious Activity Reports. Sections 356 and 359 expanded the types of financial institutions required to file reports under the Bank Secrecy Act. The personal and account information required by the reports is turned over to the Treasury Department and the FBI. In 2000, there were only 163,184 reports filed. By 2007, this had increased to 1,250,439. Again, as with NSLs, there is a complete lack of judicial oversight for SARs.

Finally, I wish to remind my colleagues that one of the many ironies of the rush to advance the PATRIOT Act following 9/11 is the well-documented fact that FBI incompetence caused the failure to search the computer of the alleged 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui. As FBI agent Coleen Rowley stated, “the FBI headquarters supervisory special agent handling the Moussaoui case ‘seemed to have been consistently almost deliberately thwarting the Minneapolis FBI agents’ efforts” to meet the FISA standard for a search warrant, and therefore no request was ever made for a warrant. Why, then, was the FBI rewarded with such expansive new powers in the aftermath of this institutional failure?

In the words of former Senator Russ Feingold, the only “no” vote against the original version of the PATRIOT Act,

“[T]here is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists. But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.”

I call upon each of my Senate colleagues to seriously consider whether the time has come to re-evaluate many—if not all—provisions of the PATRIOT Act. Our oath to uphold the Constitution demands it.

Sincerely,

Rand Paul, M.D.
United States Senator

Rand Paul acts like a patriot by opposing the Patriot Act

February 9th, 2011 11:35 pm  |  by  |  Published in Constitution, Liberty, patriot act, Rand Paul  |  1

There were some Ron Paul supporters who worried that Rand Paul’s actions would not follow his words once he entered office. Thus far, they were all wrong. Rand Paul, once again, demonstrates that his campaign promises were far from empty.

During his campaign he opposed renewing the Patriot Act and sure enough he promises to oppose it while in office. Watch the video below for Paul’s statement on the Patriot Act renewal.

How the Patriot Act Led to 40,000 FBI Crimes

February 4th, 2011 10:48 pm  |  by  |  Published in Civil Liberties, congress, Constitution, DownsizeDC.org, Liberty, patriot act  |  1

To get what you want, you must first ask for it.

You might NOT get EVERYTHING you want, but you’re more likely to make progress.

If you want the Patriot Act to be repealed, you must tell Congress. Otherwise, it will never be repealed, nor will it even be reformed.

Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, is offering a bill that renews some of the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. It includes civil liberties protections, but also extends the Patriot Act for TWO MORE YEARS.

The bill, S.193, WOULD BE AN IMPROVEMENT. But it’s NOT what we want. If we call for outright repeal of the Patriot Act . . .

* Congress may be awakened to its abuses and start investigations
* Even if we don’t get an outright repeal, more members might start calling for reform and endorse measures like S.193

On the other hand, if we ask for something like S.193 as our starting point . . .

* We’ll have no chance of repealing the Patriot Act, which is what we want (as illustrated in the letter below)
* Even a compromise like S.193 will end up being more watered-down than it would have been if we had asked for repeal directly.

That’s why we, at DownsizeDC.org, are calling for REPEAL of the Patriot Act, even while others are calling for mere reform.

If you agree with our analysis, then please ask Congress for what you want. Read More »