It was a piece of legislation rushed through with a good title and many unknown provisions. It sounded good considering that the country had just been attack by radicals from inside a religion foreign to most Americans. We were showing our unity as Americans standing in opposition anyone foreign or domestic that would attack our country.
It was many years before this piece of legislation passed that I wondered if anyone read these bills presented before Congress. The Patriot Act passed with minimal opposition. There was some flaming liberal named Dennis Kucinich from Ohio, trying to make a name in a field of Democratic contenders for the next election and a Republican / Libertarian from Texas named Ron Paul who votes against almost everything that comes to the federal government. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!
Over the last 5 years, the American people and many of those same Congressional representatives that voted for the original bill have come to realize what is in the Patriot Act. It really should have been called the Big Brother is Watching Act of 2001, but I guess that would have told legislators what was really included in the bill. Well, now we know some of what was hidden in those thousands of pages that nobody read. One key feature allowed for tighter observations of American citizens for just about any reason. Now supporters will tell you that it would only be done for those suspected of terrorism or terrorist activities. But the government doesn't have to abide the laws of the land, do they?
When the serious concern for the renewal of the bill began last year, questions started to come up and so did the answers. It's just that the answers were not what our president wanted to reveal. In December 2005, it was revealed in articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post that the White House had authorized spying on American citizens. Now spying on citizens is allowed but only with a court order. At this point, many became concerned that something more the searching for terrorist was going on. So at the White House press conference on the 19th of December, the president said this in response to a reporter's question:
"I can fully understand why members of Congress are expressing concerns about civil liberties. I know that. Do I have the legal authority to do this (wiretapping without court order) and the answer is absolutely."
Now I am really concerned about the ongoing abuses of the government to know everything about me. But when the President of the United States says that it is permissible that the government illegally snoops on its' citizens, I begin to think that I don't live in America anymore. Now this isn't the first time that presidents have stepped beyond the boundaries of the law. You could probably count on one hand those that didn't enjoy digging up a little dirt on political opponents. And I suspect if there were any that passed on the opportunity, than someone on their staff did it without authorization.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Or as the original Tricky Dick said just prior to the heat being turned up and causing his resignation in 1977, "When the president does it that means that it is not illegal."
Oh, I am feeling better already. NOT!
So what will happen to the Patriot Act next week when it comes up for another renewal vote? It is time for Americans to have their say on this legislation. Big brother is watching but your little brothers are counting on you to call Congress and encourage that this bill be sent to the shredders on Capitol Hill.