Before going on vacation I was debating with Daniel on the Patriot Act. Here's the link to the article and discussion...
I promised a reply when I got back which follows though I thought mdoneil had an excellent post on the act here : http://www.lisnews.com/comments.pl?sid=5248&cid=9165
But here's my reply...
â€œ215 lowers the thresholdâ€?
Nervous? No. I have no faith in government infallibility. But like you said we have a â€˜system of justiceâ€™. 215 focuses specifically on non-citizens and can include Americans only as long as there is more evidence then what would be covered under 1st Amendment rights. Meaning it canâ€™t be used on an American if they were overheard on 9/11 saying â€œNice shot!â€?. Do I think that will be stretched when possible? Yes, but probably no more than any other law has been stretched by the police, judges, lawyers, and politicians when convenient.
But remember it doesnâ€™t end there! Again, there is a â€˜system of justiceâ€™. Simply because 215 is used doesnâ€™t mean you go to jail. As an American you still get due process. You get a lawyer. You get a trial. You get multiple chances at re-trials. The outcry over 215 makes it sound like you go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not get $200.
Here is the 4th Amendment: â€œThe right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. â€œ
How exactly does 215 violate that? And I mean that specifically. No doubt over the decades weâ€™ve put laws on the books that expand on this and get into very specific detail over what is appropriate and what isnâ€™t. But then that was part of the problem wasnâ€™t it? Getting so specfic that law enforcement is boxed in and can do nothing.
There are really only two relavent activities that law enforcement would want from a library concerning a patron, what they are reading and what they are looking at online. Neither are sacrosanct. The idea that â€˜books donâ€™t kill peopleâ€™ overlooks the fact that books can and do teach you how. You are responsible for your actions and reading is an action. Should a man be convicted for hanging his wife because he checked out a book on tying knots? No. Should he be convicted because he was visiting his admin assistant every night at a bar, because he had a bloody pipe in his car from knocking out his wife, because he took out a life insurance policy on her, *and* because he checked out a books on tying knots? Yes.
As for documented history of law enforcement abuses, as long as humans are human that history will go on. Deal with it when it happens, donâ€™t paint yourself into a corner trying to avoid the inevitable.
"Broadening the discussion, are there records of any kind you think should be sacrosanct? Or should every single detail about someone's life be available to Federal authorities on the simple assertion that the information needed is "relevant" to an ongoing investigation?"
Hereâ€™s an old saying Howie Carr likes to use here in Boston: â€œNever write when you can speak. Never speak when you can nod. Never nod when you can winkâ€?
There is very little in life that is worth keeping private, there is very little that could be kept private from anyone with a little initiative. The tabloids are more tenacious and invasive then any federal agent.
In that spirit of â€˜broadening the discussionâ€™, how come the Patriot Act is such a pariah on civil liberties but the tax code, which is enormous, unreadable, unknowable, and permeates everything in your life, isnâ€™t?