Skip to main content

View Diary: House Votes to Make Patriot Act Provisions Permanent (61 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Paging Rep. Brad Miller... (none)
    Congressman, I see you've been somewhat active here, and I remember, it was not too long ago, you swung by to post a labor-themed diary which had a very lively and interesting discussion within the comments.  (Psst...see my username, I didn't pick it just 'cuz it rhymes ;-P)

    I see you've voted to extend these disgusting provisions, which aim to protect us from, what, freedom?
    May I ask why? Was it the Fourth Amendment that flew those planes?  Would those lunatics have been stopped if we could have only looked through their library records?

    Maybe a diary entitled "Congressmen Must Share The Bill Of Rights With Regular Americans" is in order...

    •  Yeah, I'm here. (none)
      I spent a good deal of the day today preparing a letter to constituents outlining why I voted for the legislation. Your page includes an e-mail address, and I will send you a copy of the letter, probably on Monday.

      I really don't plan to post a diary on this, but I will send a copy of my letter to anyone else who would like a copy. Just post your e-mail address as a reply below.

      The bulk of the discussion above assumes that there is no honest, defensible reason to vote for the legislation. Obviously I disagree.

      To give one quick example, delayed service of search warrants--"sneak and peek" searches--provide what I regard as the essential protections against unreasonable searches and seizures: a search warrant must be issued by a detached magistrate on a showing of probable cause, and can be challenged in court before any evidence resulting from the search can be used in a criminal prosecution. There is great advantage to law enforcement in being able to conduct a search without betraying to suspected terrorists that they are under investigation.

      As to library records, library records have always been subject to production under a subpoena and to search pursuant to a warrant. The Patriot Act makes them subject to production without probable cause as an expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows the compelled production of records in the possession of a third party that pertain to a person suspected of espionage or terrorism. The compelled production under FISA of car rental records, hotel records, records of storage units and the like have survived constitutional challenge, even absent probable cause. I am troubled by the extension of those provision to library records, and I voted earlier this year to prohibit law enforcement from compelling production of library records under FISA. The legislation that I voted for yesterday, however, amends to Patriot Act to allow the person in possession of the record--in other words, the library--to consult with an attorney and to bring a legal challenge to the reasonableness of law enforcement's demand for records.

      If a terrorist bomb was manufactured from commercially available chemicals, as was apparently the case with the London bombings, don't you want law enforcement to obtain the sales records of any business that sold the chemicals used in the bomb, and to find out who had access to any chemistry texts that explained how to combine the chemicals to make a bomb?

      Of course we must be vigilant that the powers granted law enforcement under the Patriot Act are not abused. We must be vigilant with respect to any power conferred on government, as there is no government power that is insusceptible to abuse. But if you worry about civil liberties, and I do, you should be very worried about what would happen to our civil liberties if terrorist attacks became a frequent occurrence.

      •  thanks... (none)
        for the reply, a few points:

        re: library records - correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't these only be of help if said terrorist actually checked the book out and took it home?  What if they just took notes at a desk, or photocopied pages?  What if they looked up the information on the internet at Kinko's or an internet cafe somewhere?  As you said, and as I was already aware, library records have always been subject to search with a warrant or subpeona, but this 'Patriot' Act now allows any government official with a vendetta to search any citizens' records, regardless of whether they're suspected of any wrongdoing or not.  Who's to say a critical letter-to-the-editor in the local paper doesn't make someone a 'suspected terrorist'.  I don't see any safeguards here.  
        You mention the library now being able to consult an attorney and bring a legal challenge prior to relinquishing records.  I believe that would cost money.  If so, who pays for this?

        re:  civil liberties - I'm worried when I see Congress chipping away at the edges of our civil liberties and telling us it could be worse if terrorist attacks become more frequent.  
        Again, I ask, how does the 'Patriot' Act make us safer?  How does it protect us from future attacks?
        I'll tell you right now, I don't personally know how to stop some maniac willing to blow themselves up in public places or fly planes into buildings, but I can tell you that crackdowns on our civil liberties at home ain't gonna do it.

        Thanks for the reply, Brad (can I call ya Brad?), I see you as one of the 'good guys', which is why I was surprised at your vote on this.  I'm really worried about the Republicans who keep pushing this crap, though, because nothing they've ever done has led me to believe they have any concern for me or my family, my daughter's future, whatsoever.  I can't trust them on anything by default, so when I see what I consider to be 'good' Democrats going along with this, I'd like to see if I can get an explanation, like maybe I'm missing something here.  I don't think I am on this issue, and I hope you will consider some of the other points made here by others.

        PS - if you bump into Mel Watt, if ya get a chance, let him know he's got a big supporter up in Jersey ;-).....

        •  When my wife starts to call me (none)
          "Congressman," you really should stop calling me Brad. That hasn't happened yet. I'll let you know when it does.

          I will send you my letter next week, as I promised.

          I see Mel all the time. It would make his head swell up way too much to tell him he has fans he doesn't already know about.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site