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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Patriot Act: The 52 FAA warnings are 52 reasons not to renew the Patriot Act

The President suggests that the Patriot Act be renewed. I disagree with the foundation of his argument.

Does nothing to solve communication problems

The President implies that the Patriot Act is needed to address the communication problem. I disagree that the Patriot Act will solve this problem.

The 52 warnings to the FAA are totally unrelated to the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act does not solve the communication problem between the FAA and other agencies.

It remains a matter of criminal law whether the FAA complied with the existing regulations. It is not appropriate to use the FAA-DoD communication problem as an excuse to water down the constitution or intrude into private affairs.

Antithetical to the Federalist Papers

The Patriot Act does more to stifle public access to the needed information that might otherwise be used to check the government.

Madison, when he wrote of checks and balances, made it clear that the citizenry exists and thrives when it has the power to check the government. The role of government is not there as a check on the citizenry. [See NYT v Sullivan]

The Patriot Act creates a wall to that oversight and does little to address what Madison spoke.

Information was there

The Patriot Act is not needed to gather more information. FAA already had 52 warnings that were clear, specific, and useful to accomplish national security objectives.

The President and Congress have done little to persuade the public that the Patriot Act is needed to better transmit more useful information.

Patriot Act has been a green light to abuse

The post 9-11 hysteria has done little to address the real communication problem within the government. FAA had the information, and this information should have been provided through NOTAMs to the JCS and other agencies.

The Patriot Act doesn't address what really broke down in the FAA-JCS link. Rather, the Patriot Act simply diverts attention from the government's failure to act prior to 9-11, and shifts the focus onto the public.

Madison spoke of the oversight function. An informed citizen has the right to criticize government. It is not the role of government to shift attention from its own failings onto the backs of the public.

Yet, the Patriot Act has simply fueled the hysteria. Look at the abuses we have seen in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and during the RNC Convention in 2004. Officers were on motor scooters detaining people who had nothing to do with any criminal activity.

The courts have also found that the government failed to follow procedures in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the Guantanamo on the Hudson. The DoJ inspector general house found a pattern of abuses in the Bureau of Prisons.

The Patriot Act is not needed. It simply provides a shroud of secrecy officers use to hide from 42 USC 1983 accountability.

The Patriot Act, in giving a green light to abuse, lying, and officer misconduct, ties up the courts with needless litigation. The public should not have to remind the officers of their duties in a 42 USC 1983 claim.

Rather, the leadership should simply turn to the constitution to remind them of their clearly promulgated responsibilities and duties: Comply with the law, ensure their personnel obey and enforce the law; and also ensure their actions are consistent with the constitution.

JTTF and CIFA also need to have their green light for abuse taken away.

The US Solicitor General should have the green light to lie before the Supreme Court taken away. It is unacceptable that, despite mounting photographic evidence of torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, that the US Solicitor General was allowed to get away with cavalierly claiming the United States does not commit torture.

Senator Kennedy got it right. The United States has a torture problem. This is not a partisan accusation. It is a fact, it has been documented, and the Patriot Act does little to address this discipline problem.

Yet, it is not a matter of simple discipline. It is a matter of international criminal law. These are war crimes.

The Patriot Act needs to be banned so that this nation can return to a rule of constitutional law, and so that the officers who have committed these abuses are held to account. There should be no green light to abuse and torture.


The Patriot Act has been the verbal armor the government uses to avoid questions and oversight. The media is, or was, an important tool in that oversight.

It is not appropriate for all inconvenient problems to be swept under the rug as being matters of national security. No, the issue is whether the government is going to be held to account for violations of law.

The Patriot Act creates an illusory shield to government accountability. The courts have no credible oversight of the officers' actions. Officers regularly lie to the courts. It is called testilying. There are meaningless sanctions for planning evidence.

The 52 FAA warnings prior to 9-11 are problematic. Yet, it is absurd to talk about renewing the Patriot Act. We are not safer or freer.

Patriot Act discriminates against the Poor

The Patriot Act has been used to deny housing to those eligible to pay rent.

Indeed, the Patriot Act does allow the government to snoop into private affairs. Yet, it is of neither of a public nor government concern as to whether someone does nor does not have a favorable credit rating.

Rather, a credit rating is a factor in a private commercial transaction. It is not an inherently governmental interest for the government to mandate credit-reporting requirements before someone can live in a home.

If someone appears with the funds to rent or purchase a home, then they should be able to do so. It remains a burden of the government to show that those funds are related to criminal activity.

That someone has a poor credit rating is of no relevance to whether or not they have the right to live in a home; or can pay a rent or mortgage.

This government is using the Patriot Act to require landowners to act as a government agent. If that continues, then there need to be causes of action brought against those land owners under the fair housing laws for their unequal treatment of similarly situated tenants.

There is no reason the poor should have to show their personal identification in order to get access to public terminals at universities. These are publicly funded places.

Just as law students should be free from the intrusion of military recruiters so they can remain focused on their law studies, so too should other students not be subjected to unreasonable intrusion into their private affairs.

This government does not need more information. It needs to explain why, despite 52 FAA warnings, the solution is to break down the barriers between the CIA and the FBI.

We see no credible evidence that the 52 FAA warnings were not reported or acted upon because of some illusory wall between the CIA and FBI.

Rather, the Patriot Act has simply been a barrier to these answers. These answers are consistent with citizen oversight over government, and inconsistent with government intrusion under the Patriot Act.


The Patriot Act has simply been the excuse this government has used to ignore Madison and embrace the abuses practices well known in the British Empire.

This nation fought a battle against tyranny. It fights another one. It remains to be seen whether the Patriot Act becomes a target of another battle, or whether it is left to die on the scrap heap of history.

The truth continues to surface. Let us hope that the President and others in Congress choose the right side of history.

Freedom will prevail. It remains to be seen whether the government chooses to recognize freedom at home.

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