PATRIOT Act 10th anniversary discussion thread

Ten years ago today, President George W. Bush signed a bill called the “United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism,” better known as the PATRIOT Act. It’s a good time to reflect on the law’s impact as well as how the Iowans in Congress voted on its provisions over the last decade.

Everyone in Iowa’s Congressional delegation voted for the PATRIOT Act in 2001: Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, House Republicans Jim Nussle (IA-01), Jim Leach (IA-03), Greg Ganske (IA-04) and Tom Latham (IA-05), and House Democrat Leonard Boswell (IA-03).

When Congress reauthorized the legislation in 2006, Harkin was one of 10 senators who voted against the PATRIOT Act. Grassley voted to reauthorize the bill, as did all five Iowans in the U.S. House: Nussle, Leach, Boswell, Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05). Click here to view the 2001 and 2006 House and Senate roll call votes on the PATRIOT Act.

Congress has continued to extend the PATRIOT Act in recent years. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act came up for several important votes in 2008. Boswellvoted with Latham, King and Grassley for a “compromise” that gave Republicans and President Bush everything they wanted. Harkin and House Democrats Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted against the FISA bill.

In May 2011, Congress voted to let three of the most controversial PATRIOT Act provisions continue until June 2015. Harkin voted against that extension, as did Braley and Loebsack. Grassley, Boswell, Latham and King supported the extension.

The American Civil Liberties Union explained some of the biggest problems with the PATRIOT Act here and in more depth here (pdf). I enclose below an ACLU infographic showing “some of the most troubling aspects” of the law.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

ACLU,Patriot Act,constitution,privacy,terrorism

  • Lemme see...

    I declined a job offer from  the State of Colorado DOT and left my 40 acres and a horse immediately following this event.  This was due to my concerns about how federal law enforcement would employ this statute against the citizens of this country.

    Immediately prior to the invasion of Iraq I had a conversation with Greg Thielman, who had resigned his position at Department of State as the

    Director of strategic military intelligence. This in protest over the false intelligence his boss was giving to Congress during the run up to the invasion of Iraq.  His assessment on the reason to invade Iraq?  Oil

    I had an opportunity to meet with Col. Ann Wright who resigned from the Diplomatic Corps in protest to the invasion of Iraq. Her assessment of the reason for invading Iraq?  Oil

    I decided to risk arrest at a non-violent direct action as the world erupted in protest against the war.  I became quite outspoken, convinced by the first person accounts given to me by senior intelligence experts on the non-existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    As the result of speaking out, I have been targeted by the U.S. Attorney’s with a Federal Grand Jury subpoena (which was quashed due to public outcry) for speaking out.  I have been the subject of investigation by the FBI’s “Joint Terrorist Task Force” (as discovered via a FOIA request). I have been labeled a “Credible Threat to National Security” in a Department of Defense TALON report.  And finally I was sentenced to three months in Federal prison for basically stepping off a curb and refusing to move while attempting to deliver a letter to military officials.

    Now?  We have an entrenched intelligence gathering bureaucracy collecting information on basically everyone. Here in Des Moines we have a Department of Homeland Security “Fusion Center”, which is a system that “vertically integrates” all kinds of information, such as, what you purchase, where you purchase (when using a credit or debit card). Phone records of calls and durations (but not the content of the conversation unless a warrantless wiretap happens to be in place).

    How much information is being collected?  The last information I was able to access from the DHS indicated it is collecting four petabytes of information each month.  That is enough information to fill twelve four drawer filing cabinets on every man, woman, and child in the country.  

    The state security apparatus in place currently exceeds Orwell’s vision of the future outlined in his novel 1984. Only because Orwell could not have imagined the amount of information that could be collected and stored with our plugged in lifestyle.  

    And Feingold was the only Senator to vote against the damned thing.  That was the most chilling aspect of the USA Patriot Act for me.  

    It’s here, and aspects of it are here to stay.  Unless the 99 per cent become effective in overhauling the government, that is…

    • Feingold

      I didn’t agree with him on everything, but he was willing to succeed or fail on principle.

      It still blows my mind that even Paul Wellstone voted for the PATRIOT Act.

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