Thursday, March 26, 2009

Patriot Act

I was reading the Washington Post article about the FBI wanting the Patriot Act to be extended past its December expiration. I've written here before that I was against it then and I'm against it now, and I'm still against it. The Patriot Act wasn't needed and the evidence has shown it hasn't worked as promised.

Over 95% of the cases in which its provision have been used were for investigations into criminal acts, not terrorism. There have been more than significant examples of misuse and even abuse of the law by the FBI to get information that normally needed warrants by a court. It's been misused and abused against innnocent citizens. It's been abused against legal immigrants including children, many of whom have been deported after years here or with legal standing to be here.

All the abuses have been in violation of the Patriot Act, yet the FBI continues to do the same thing to others. The Patriot Act gives the FBI the power to conduct an investigation into every aspect of a citizen's life and work without a warrant and without probable cause beyond a suspicion of something, which is almost always based on circumstantial evidence at best and nothing at worst.

It's been used for fishing investigations, looking into the lives of innocent people who had "contact" with a suspect, even if the contact was and is normal in the conduct of everyday life and work. The FBI assumes guilt first, then go fishing for the evidence. And they drag innocent people into their view for guilt by association.

And the most important issue about the Patriot Act is what it was supposed to do, capture and prosecute terrorists. And to date no one has been prosecuted and sentenced for terrorism. All of the convictions in the end were for "providing material support to terrorists.", meaning guilt by association.

On top of that failure, the Patriot Act gives the FBI the right to pre-emptively investigate and prosecute people, including citizens, for thinking about terrorism. All the terrorists prosecuted have been before anything took place, and in all of those cases the FIB provided material support to the terrorists to capture and prosecute them. The FBI created the terrorists, then captured and prosecuted them.

The Patriot Act was and is Big Brother. Nothing more and nothing less. It's not needed in our justice system. The FBI has all the tools without it to do their job. The faiures of 9/11 were about communications and people. Simply put, the FBI screwed up. They had all the information and all the people giving warnings, and they failed to act properly and timely.

And now we want to continue to give them even more power they've already abused? Sorry, you don't have my vote. I support the FBI's work, but I don't support gving them unchecked power over American citizens. But in the end, does it really matter? They do what they want anyway, they don't let the law hinder them and their work.

Congress should repeal the Patriot Act or let it expire. I don't expect President Obama to allow that. It's one of the promises he is reigning on with the American people, the restoration of our civil rights and protections in the face of invasive government power. He likes that power, and it's easy to convince the people it's for a good cause, except history has shown it hasn't been used for good causes and has been used against innocent Americans.

The FBI needs to provide the American people prove it's worked as promised and not use trumped up evidence to make their case. Otherwise, they should learn to do without it and do a better job focusing on real terrorists, not fictuous ones and especially American citizens.

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