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Blogging the Patriot Act reauthorization

The ACLU has launched a blog to alert folks on the progress, if you want to call it that, on the reauthorazation of the Patriot Act. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Chimpy have urged Congress to renew the law in its entirety. They are praying that the people are not paying attention the serious jeopardy our civil liberties face if changes are not made to this Act, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

Surf over to Reform the Patriot Act. NC blogger Ruby Sinreich is right, it’s a real blog, featuring news, first-person posts on the ACLU’s work in Congress on this Act — and you can contribute to the conversation with comments and trackbacks. This site is chock-full of information and tools to help folks mobilize and take action as the political battle heats up, such as RSS feeds, and graphics for your blog to help spread the word. A form to contact your Senators and Representatives is here.

Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Besides the bill just introduced in the Senate Intelligence Committee (sponsored by Specter and Feinstein), there are three other bills on tap to reauthorize with few changes, still giving the government far-reaching authority to breach our individual privacy in the name of “security.”

As Lisa Graves, ACLU senior legislative counsel at the ACLU notes:

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s bill from June would make the expiring provisions of Patriot permanent and expand its powers. It would allow the FBI to write its own search orders that businesses would be compelled to comply with for literally “any tangible thing.”

The FBI would not have to show any specific facts connecting a foreign power or foreign terrorist with the records they sought: medical records, employment records, gun purchase records, tax records, credit reports, insurance records, bank statements, and records from car dealerships, etc.

They would not even have to get court approval to issue one of these subpoenas. And the recipient of one of these subpoenas is gagged forever from telling anyone about it. This bill also enables law enforcement to track your postal mail if the FBI requests it.

The bill is already awaiting action on the Senate floor, but this bill is really a foil, a chit to force through other “more palatable” bills that would make Patriot largely permanent with no real change.

Myths about the Patriot Act and links to the Reality, from the site:
• There Have Been No Patriot Act “Abuses”
• It Updated Law Enforcement Tools
• It Uses Existing Tools to Track Terrorists
• It Brought Uniformity to Government Agencies
• It Improves Communication Between Agencies
• The New Powers Have Lead to Arrests
• They’re Not Using My Library Informatio
• The Patriot Act Has Judicial Oversight
• Critics Misunderstand “Material Witness”
• Critics Want to Appeal the Patriot Act
• The Patriot Act Is Constitutional

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding