Harry Reid and his Republican allies are furious because of a one day delay in the approval of their Patriot Act extension legislation. That one day delay means that the Patriot Act’s most abused, most unconstitutional spying powers may be illegal for a few hours.
The implications: Not much. If the Patriot Act is allowed to temporarily expire, nothing bad will happen. How do I know that? All I have to do is look at the record.
The Patriot Act has been a huge failure.
Defenders of the Patriot Act say that it allows them to track down terrorist suspects with great effectiveness. The truth is somewhat different: The most extreme powers of the Patriot Act are used against non-terrorists 99.6 percent of the time.
Yet, they say that the Patriot Act works. There’s an easy test for that claim: How well did the Patriot Act work in locating Osama Bin Laden?
The Patriot Act has been in effect for almost 10 years, and even with its outrageous spying powers, it took the federal government all that time to find where Osama Bin Laden was hiding – and he was right down the street from an allied military base.
That’s not success. It’s failure.
Today, there came the announcement that Ratko Mladic, Serbian general accused of atrocious war crimes and an international fugitive, was finally located and caught. He was on the run for 16 years.
If the Patriot Act spying powers are so effective, how come Ratko Mladic was able to evade its detection for so long? The hunt for Ratko Mladic was a “foreign investigation” – just the sort of thing that the Patriot Act was designed to contribute to. Yet, for almost an entire decade under the Patriot Act, Ratko Mladic was able to escape detection.
The Patriot Act has failed America… unless what you define as success is the seizure of huge amounts of personal information from the private accounts of millions of Americans. If you think that’s success, then you can say that the Patriot Act has been very successful indeed.