While some politicians whose names rhyme with “a sock-a-rama” have made big promises to reform the Patriot Act only to break those promises later, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has remained firmly set in word and practice against the Patriot Act in its nearly ten years, speaking out against it and most importantly voting against it time and time again.
Dennis Kucinich kept to his course yesterday, standing before the House of Representatives and making a speech to remind Americans that our compact with government is not give me liberty or give me a wiretap, but rather a demand that we shall die before we stop living free. Here is a transcription of Representative Kucinich’s February 8 speech, which he followed up with a NO vote against Patriot Act reauthorization:
I will certainly never seek to impugn the feelings of those who say we have to have the Patriot Act in order to protect our country. We’re all patriots here and we all want America to be protected.
But we have to remember our constitutional experience here, and the reason why we have a Fourth Amendment that protects people, not just from unreasonable search and seizure but from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their lives. When we look at our constitutional experience and at all the efforts in the buildup to it, we didn’t hear “Give me liberty or give me a wiretap.” We didn’t hear “Don’t tread on me, but it’s OK to spy.” What we heard was a ringing declaration about freedom and it was enshrined in that Constitution.
I stood on the floor of the House way back when the Patriot Act came forward, voted against it because I read it, understood that it opened up the door for a broad range of possibilities by the government into our daily lives. The gentleman from Wisconsin, who is my friend, correctly pointed out earlier the difference between National Security Letters and the Patriot Act. But it also is true that Section 505 of the Patriot Act gave the government the ability to greatly expand who could issue a National Security Letter, so much so that nearly 50,000 National Security Letters were issued by the FBI in the year 2006. They don’t have to use Section 215 of the Patriot Act. They just invoke the National Security Letter authority and reach into people’s financial records, their medical records, their reading material.
What’s happening to our country? Why are we giving up our basic liberties? We need to take a stand here, and this is a good a day as any to take a stand. Many members of Congress, including those supported by my friends in the Tea Party, maintain their goal is to get rid of big government, get government out of their lives. Well, how about the Patriot Act, which has the broadest reach and the deepest reach of government into our daily lives? Shouldn’t we be thinking about that? Some want to get government out of health care, some want to get government out of retirement security. How about getting government out of people’s bedrooms, out of people’s financial records, out of people’s medical records?
Vote no on extending the Patriot Act!