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Patriot Act Fix Just a Beginning

We often say the Patriot needs to be fixed, not extended. In an editorial today, the New York Times makes a further important point: Fixing the Patriot Act should be just the beginning, not the end. As Congress debates the various Patriot Act fixes in the coming weeks, it should not lose sight of the ball.

These hearings should look beyond the Patriot Act, to the larger picture of civil liberties and the war on terror. After Sept. 11, the government rounded up illegal immigrants, and put hundreds with no ties to terrorism behind bars for months, often in deplorable conditions. The Justice Department's own inspector general found that the government made "little attempt" to distinguish people with ties to terrorism from those without. In conducting this roundup, the Bush administration gave itself far more power than the Patriot Act does. Under the act, aliens are to be held no more than seven days before immigration or criminal charges are brought.

Nor did the Bush administration rely on the Patriot Act for its lawless "enemy combatant" doctrine, the basis for holding American citizens suspected of terrorism indefinitely, without access to family members or lawyers. And the administration now claims that the C.I.A. has the right to secretly transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation. Critics of the process, known as rendition, say it is being used to subject these suspects to torture. The authority for rendition comes not from the Patriot Act, but from a classified directive that President Bush signed shortly after 9/11.

If Congress becomes too bogged down in the minutiae of the Patriot Act in coming weeks, it will be in danger of missing the larger picture. Revising the law should be the start, not the end, of its work.

A Patriot Act fix is just a first step towards reclaiming the rights taken from us in the Administration's War on Terror, a war that failed to make us safer, only less free.

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  • Re: Patriot Act Fix Just a Beginning (none / 0) (#1)
    by Johnny on Sun Apr 10, 2005 at 01:11:11 AM EST
    yeah but the NYT is just a pawn of the left wing and should not be taken seriously. or so the wrong wingers would try to have us believe..

    Re: Patriot Act Fix Just a Beginning (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Apr 10, 2005 at 06:13:26 AM EST
    It will be amusing to read the comments of the so-called libertarians justify the extension of the P.A.T.R.I.O.T act.

    Re: Patriot Act Fix Just a Beginning (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Apr 10, 2005 at 08:29:03 AM EST
    Nothing will be fixed only the people to the wall of total political lies. the so called patriot act is an act of mass murder of the people of this non nation for one reason to fully setup a mexican/American(Oligarchies) political system of total corruption; its a "war on drugs" with millions of you as targets in the end..anyway the USA Will disapear in ten years and that is what bush and business want. watch what bush and business will do to you soon, remember the business of this non nation is business and you no longer mean money to that business, it really just comes down to that fact. Bush/Saddam/ Laden/Fox all a game and you are the games target. "See it for what it is"

    Re: Patriot Act Fix Just a Beginning (none / 0) (#4)
    by Pete Guither on Sun Apr 10, 2005 at 09:31:04 AM EST
    Tristero, As always, it depends on who calls themselves libertarians. The Libertarian Party has called for the repeal of the Patriot Act. As far as the small-l libertarians... Liberal libertarians and those who align partially with libertarian principles based on a strong belief in the Bill of Rights are strong opposed to the Patriot Act. The problem comes for the, as you said, so-called libertarians who have historically aligned themselves with the right and paid lip service to the principles of limited government, fiscal restraint, individual responsibility, and states' rights. They are having to go through some massive self-delusion to keep up the right wing libertarian pretense these days. They have bought into the fear-based terrorism response so heavily that they support the Patriot Act, but will claim that there's nothing really controversial in it (and that we're over-reacting). They'll say that it's really only technical adjustments to bring terrorism-fighting efforts into line with other law enforcement tools already in existence, and nothing new. (But they won't want a point-by-point analysis of it in Congress.)

    Re: Patriot Act Fix Just a Beginning (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Sun Apr 10, 2005 at 09:40:46 AM EST
    History will frown on this miscarriage of justice, just as we frown on the Japanese internment during WWII. No inprisonment w/o due process, under any circumstances, ever. Is that so difficult for our supposed "free" society to swallow?

    Re: Patriot Act Fix Just a Beginning (none / 0) (#6)
    by Johnny on Sun Apr 10, 2005 at 10:04:35 AM EST
    Yes kdog, but they might be terrorists, and heaven knows how many thousands of terrorists there are round here... We need the un-patriot act to make sure that Bin Laden isn't checking out improper reading material from the local library.

    Re: Patriot Act Fix Just a Beginning (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Apr 25, 2005 at 02:12:19 PM EST
    To those who may be interested in participating: Chip Pitts, Board Chair of Amnesty International USA, is hosting a live chat on the Patriot Act all day on April 27 here.