Saturday Update -- Congress did exactly what I predicted Friday night. Our "leaders" who spew their rhetoric about repressive leaders who don't represent their people in countries like Egypt coddle and give away money without restrictions to greedy big banks, investment houses and businesses who lied, gambled and just plain mis-managed the businesses. If you mis-managed your business you'd be shit out of luck. Try to get a small business loan these days. And how about those big fees banks get to collect? What are they doing with that money? Is everyone in your family duly employed based on their eduction and qualifications? Are they getting huge bonuses? Probably not unless they're a CEO or in the banking, investment or medical business. GM just announced that they are giving out huge bonuses after taking a taxpayer bailout at the same time they are moving production to China, Mexico and Korea. And the beat goes on.
On a positive note, Congress voted NOT to renew the PATRIOT Act Tuesday night. On a negative note, why did my representative, Heath Shuler (D-NC), vote yes to extend that legally questionable and constitutionally suspect Act? And how predictable that just one day after the House of Representatives voted down extending provisions of the Patriot Act, the gang was on message, including the Director of National Intelligence and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano both warning that the terror threat is "the most heightened since 9/11"! Watch this video discussing the original bill introduced in 2001 that was NEVER read or debated on the floor of the house. I doubt any of the individuals voting YEA to extend it Tuesday night even read the entire Act.
PATRIOT Act or Bill of Rights...you can't have both. The Michael Chertoff-drafted PATRIOT Act was originally sold as a temporary emergency measure and was supposed to expire ( now he's making BIG money off it selling body scanners to TSA). Bush signed it and Obama, who has broken many campaign promises, continues to urge Congress to renew the same Patriot Act that in 2003 he branded "shoddy and dangerous" and pledged to dump it! Some change we can believe in! Unfortunately, unless Americans get mad as hell and tell the White House and their Representatives in Congress to stop this madness, the measure is now expected to return to the House floor for a regular vote that would require a simple majority to pass. If House members vote then as they did Tuesday, the extension will pass easily. Don't let this happen. This time it must be REPEALED!
Whatever your politics, why would anyone support a law that strips Americans of our rights under the Bill of Rights and effectively has created a police state turning all Americans into suspects without the need for evidence, judge-issued warrants and other elements of the rule of law? Neither this law, nor our wars for profit and support for corrupt "leaders" in Afghanistan and all over the middle east have made us "safer". Yes there are bad guys here and everywhere, but we don't need he PATRIOT Act to legally track and investigate, arrest, charge and prosecute them.
The New Yorker Magazine just published this article about how Karzai's relatives, other high ranking govt officials and friends looted the Bank of Kabul that pays the soldiers who the US/NATO has been trying to train for the past 9 years -- So is the US going bail out that bank out so the Afghan Army can be paid? Did you know that the current US policy being carried out in Afghanistan by Gen. David Petraeu is based on paying off and playing with bad guys on both sides and the middle. But under the PATRIOT Act, just questioning those wars and corruption, or TSA's methods at the airport can make you a suspect.
Anyone can search using Google to connect the dots to find the facts. Most people associate Bush/Cheney with it, but did you know that the PATRIOT Act is based on an anti-terrorism bill that Joe Biden drafted after the Oklahoma City bombing? Biden brags that he is the author of the Patriot Act. In 1995, months before the Oklahoma City bombing took place, Biden introduced another bill called the Omnibus Counter-terrorism Act of 1995. It previewed the 2001 Patriot Act by allowing secret evidence to be used in prosecutions, expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and wiretap laws, creating a new federal crime of "terrorism" that could be invoked based on political beliefs, permitting the U.S. military to be used in civilian law enforcement, and allowing permanent detection of non-U.S. citizens without judicial review. The Center for National Security Studies said the bill would erode "constitutional and statutory due process protections" and would "authorize the Justice Department to pick and choose crimes to investigate and prosecute based on political beliefs and associations."
Biden himself draws parallels between his 1995 bill and its 2001 cousin. "I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill Attorney General John Ashcroft sent up was my bill," he said when the Patriot Act was being debated, according to the New Republic, which described him as "the Democratic Party's de facto spokesman on the war against terrorism." The law that Bill Clinton eventually signed in 1996, referred to by civil libertarians as a "Riechstag fire", was a death knell to the Bill of Rights and was designed to grant sweeping powers to the executive branch. Included in the 1996 bill and the PATRIOT Act provisions was a much broader wiretapping authority for law enforcement with less judicial oversight, access to personal and financial records without a warrant. Most of all included in the bill are sweeping powers granted to the President to designate certain groups as "terrorist" organizations, to seize the assets of said groups and their supporters, and to imprison U.S citizens and deport aliens supporting such groups, aliens being denied due process under the law.
It was bad then and it's bad now. Here's a great video from the Rutherford Institute, one of the nation's premier civil liberties organizations, discussing the PATRIOT Act. Also recommend their paper entitled The Rise of the American Police State