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Congress targets patriot act.

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posted on Nov, 18 2003 @ 04:37 PM
Congress Targets the Patriot Act

Wes Vernon,
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003

WASHINGTON – The use of the Patriot Act to pursue a case unrelated to terrorism has provided ammunition to those who want to limit the scope of the law.

A bipartisan bill introduced by conservative Sen. Larry Craig, R- Idado, and leftist Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is intended to “help bring clarity” to provisions of the Patriot Act denounced by critics as invasive and a threat to civil liberties.

The Craig-Durbin act, dubbed Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE), focuses on four issues: wiretaps, access to library records, surveillance of citizens and multi-jurisdictional warrants.

The measure, set for a battle royal next year, was given a boost this month when the Patriot Act was used in a corruption probe in Las Vegas that was unrelated in any way to terrorism, the supposed focus of the law, which was passed shortly after 9/11.

Federal officials in Vegas used the law to obtain financial records of politicians on the Clark County Commission and the Las Vegas City Council. The case involves a strip club owner’s alleged attempts to improperly influence officials to loosen laws that restrict whether patrons may touch nude dancers.

The FBI argues it was within its rights to use the law in this manner.

The way the law reads, the feds can gain access to information on persons “reasonably suspected based on credible evidence of engaging in terrorist acts or money laundering activities.”

Presumably, the key word in that sentence is “or.” It appears to contain no clarifier that the law must be confined to terrorist acts only.

That kind of supposed “loophole” concerns Sen. Craig. In an interview with, the Idaho Republican, who, along with the overwhelming majority of his colleagues, voted for the Patriot Act, called for more specificity in the law.

For example, the senator understands concerns that, as defenders of the act have put it, someone connected to terrorist groups could be studying library literature on how to make a pipe bomb. But he believes the genius of the Constitution is that it was crafted in such a way as to guard freedoms without sacrificing liberty.

Rocky Road

“Once we go down that road" of giving up a little freedom here and little bit there, he said, who knows where it will stop? What will happen when someone perceives other dangers in library literature that have nothing to do with terrorism?

“I believe the SAFE Act is a measured, reasonable, and appropriate response to concerns we have with the USA Patriot Act,” the senator said. “This legislation intends to ensure the liberties of law-abiding individuals are protected in our nation’s fight against terrorism, without in any way impeding that fight.”

Supporters of keeping the Patriot Act intact say that the law does provide adequate safeguards to civil liberties, but that in the dangerous world in which we now live, terrorists have figured out ways to use those protections to pursue their goal of killing Americans.

The Patriot Act, they argue, seeks to bring our laws up to speed with modern technology without sacrificing citizens' liberties.

Durbin did not respond to requests for an interview. Co-sponsors of the SAFE Act include Sens. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., John Sununu, R-N.H., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Yeah yeah yeah i know its newsmax but it should inspire some debate about the patriot act, how do you feel about it? do you support it and why do you feel the way you do?

posted on Nov, 18 2003 @ 04:53 PM
It sure woulda been nice if they'd been allowed to read the damn thing before voting.

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