Our regular readers know by now that we are at Irregular Times are going to Washington D.C. tomorrow to protest against the Patriot Act. If we’ve been talking about this protest a great deal, it’s because we believe that the repeal of the Patriot Act is extremely important – to the survival of the United States as we have known it.
That’s a very strong statement, it’s true, but we’re not alone in this assessment. Consider the warning from Congressman Jerrold Nadler, delivered in a speech about the Patriot Act on the floor of the House of Representatives: “Section 206 provides for roving wiretap orders, supposedly to catch up with technology, but these orders identify neither the person to be tapped nor the facility to be tapped. This is, for all practical purposes, a general grant of authority to wiretap anyone anywhere that the government wants. They should either have to identify either the person or, because of modern technology, the facility. But one or the other. There are almost no limits to this authority and no requirement that the government name a specific target. This is akin – very similar – to the British general writs of assistance which engendered the first colonial outrage that led to the American Revolution. Here we are coming full circle.”
What is the United States of America if the Bill of Rights is no longer functioning? What’s the point of having freed ourselves from a monarchy if we turn around and reinstall the tyrannical policies of that monarchy ourselves?
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees us protection from unreasonable search and seizure. The searches and seizures taking place under the Patriot Act are clearly unreasonable, with tens of thousands of violations under the Patriot Act having been found so far. The Fourth Amendment requires that when searches and seizures take place, they occur under a warrant that specifies the specific place and person to be searched. The Patriot Act’s “lone wolf” spying power blatantly violates that clause of the Fourth Amendment, allowing government intelligence agents to search and seize without warrants specifying what or who they are going to search and seize.
Congress is scheduled to attempt to extend such provisions of the Patriot Act again in just a little over two months from now.
To have the American government so openly ignore the Constitution creates a grave threat to our democracy. The lessons of 1776 should not be forgotten. Liberty matters. That’s why we’ll be protesting outside of Congress tomorrow, and I hope to see some of you there too.