Friday, September 07, 2007

The True Patriot act

Is a “patriot” necessarily democratic (as in democratic process)?

Nope. At least not when you’re talking about the USA Patriot Act.

The “Washington Post” reported yesterday that a federal judge had struck down the FBI practice of issuing “national security letters” that require internet service providers and other businesses to cough up information about you, whom you communicate with, what you buy, etc.

We covered the issue in an edition of “Vito Says...” which deals, in part, with an Op-ed written by someone who was hit with such a letter and the mess it made of their lives.

highwayscribery’s take was that the whole thing sucked, was undemocratic in the extreme, and suggested that to protect ourselves from Islamo-fascism, we’re going in for stormtrooping with a crucifix.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, agreed in principle, if not on the particulars.

He said the national security letters (NSLs) are “the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values.”

He also said, “in light of the seriousness of the potential intrusion into the individual’s personal affairs and the significant possibility of a chilling effect on speech and association -- particularly of expression that is critical of the government [gulp!] or its policies -- a compelling need exists to ensure that the use of NSLs is subject to the safeguards of public accountability, checks and balances, and separation of power that our Constitution prescribes.”

Love that Constitution!

There are many Patriots out there who will say, but WHAT ABOUT THE TERRORISTS?!

Well, the point is, it’s not quite so easy catching and confounding terrorists as simply dredging every dissident voice (and more than a few unlucky, apolitical schnooks) into a giant electronic dragnet.

These folks are pros, you know.

The same cannot be said for those who ostensibly protect us, while actually harassing us.

We’ve done covered FBI incompetence in screening for terrorists before. As a matter of fact, visit “Told You So” (March 1, 2007),

If you need a refresher on how the highway scribe told you so.

Thursday, the “Washington Post” (again) published a dispatch with the headline, “Report: Terrorist Screening Database Marred by Errors.”

This morsel is not, like the court ruling, a product of litigious agitation on the part of the American Civil Liberties Union. It’s culled from a document penned by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

It basically says that the government’s terrorist screening database, is a mess and that, “Inaccurate, incomplete and obsolete watch list information can increase the risk of not identifying known or suspected terrorists, and it can also increase the risk that innocent persons will be stopped or detained.”

That's long-hand for, “The system doesn’t work.”

Maybe you’re a patriot who thinks blindly following the dictates of government security entities is the best way to show your love, but we here at highwayscribery say questioning them good and hard is the true Patriot's act.

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