06 July 2019


The USA PATRIOT Act:  Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001

Why is it that people truly do not understand that we, the people, lost many freedoms when the PATRIOT Act became a law? The Act actually violates some of our constitutional rights by allowing for widespread corruption to legally permeate our system of government, although that was not its stated purpose.

Allow me to make it very clear, that while I support well-written laws which do not violate our rights as a way to strengthen our defense against terrorism, I, for one, do not condone the ways in which the PATRIOT Act violates our constitutional rights, because it can be, and has been used corruptly to abusively and prejudicially target people.

The original PATRIOT Act of 2001 allowed for citizens to be accused without their knowledge and without the knowledge of their lawyers.  Comment about that is missing in the ACLU article I highly recommend reading, as are any comments about changes (if any) that have been made each time the Act is reauthorized.  Additionally, the Act also resulted in numerous government departments being restructured and put under the umbrella of the newly established Department of Homeland Security.

Briefly, from the ACLU website, the PATRIOT Act was " an overnight revision of the nation's surveillance laws that vastly expanded the government's authority to spy on its own citizens, while simultaneously reducing checks and balances on those powers like judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court. . . . Most of the changes to surveillance law made by the Patriot Act were part of a longstanding law enforcement wish list that had been previously rejected by Congress, in some cases repeatedly."

Because the original PATRIOT Act  allowed for citizens to be accused without their knowledge and without the knowledge of their lawyers, that means it legalized abuse by conjecture based on flawed assumptions about guilt by association, without the accused having the legal right to be told of being accused - thus having no right to defense.  That is NOT the way in which our nation's government is to supposed to function on behalf of and for we, the people.  If that sentence is not understandable then read it again and translate it to family life.  Then, perhaps the actuality may be more familiar.  I was raised that way, many of my generation, and previous generations, were.  For that reason alone, at least the WWII generation and the first post-WWII generation should have known from harsh experience when the Act was being authorized, to do everything necessary to prevent violation of our nation's "innocent until proven guilty" constitutional right.

Although it is the same problem based on the same mind-set, unless the problems created as a child compromise one's opportunities as an adult, getting "the treatment" as a child is far different than false accusations as an adult which damage the ability of adults to move forward in life earning a good honest living.   False accusations and false imprisonment, especially when prejudicially intended, so easily compromise, limit, and obstruct one's opportunities and direction in life.  And they did so. legally, the Patriot Act making easy and increasingly more common after becoming law - even though the Patriot Act does so unconstitutionally (and even though it happened before the Act, but illegally).  How's that reality for creating cognitive dissonance regarding the security vs. rights issue - probably being intended to do so.  Unless one has experienced being on the unjustly punishing end of that seeming paradox, it may have little meaning, unfortunately.

I recommend reading the ACLU page.  It is one page long primarily about surveillance and covers a number of the abuses associated with how surveillance can be, has been, and is used to violate our constitutional rights.  From the ACLU website, Surveillance Under the USA/PATRIOT Act, one of the things the PATRIOT Act does - it “Puts CIA back in business of spying on Americans. The PATRIOT Act gives the Director of Central Intelligence the power to identify domestic intelligence requirements.  That opens the door to the same abuses that took place in the 1970s and before, when the CIA engaged in widespread spying on protest groups and other Americans.

I guarantee that folks who had Palestinian friends, acquaintances, and colleagues during the 70s (referenced as "other Americans") were under extremely punishing invasive surveillance.  Undoubtedly, so were "other Americans" for other supposed "reasons".  Even though surveillance was invasive and felt punishing - the fact is that the response of many was “I have nothing to hide”. Providing evidence and having it taken seriously was extremely difficult, anyway.  I had friends who found "bugs" (listening devices) in their apartment - actual evidence.  But there was no cooperation that lead to who was responsible for placing them.  However, having nothing to hide does not matter when corruption is at work and one's name is on a  list provided by a foreign government that is extremely and fatally prejudicially anti-Palestinian. 

There very clearly was corruption at work in the 70s.  The fact is that in 2001 the PATRIOT Act made that corruption legal, long after the fact, given that government had been getting away with some of the corruption since the 70s (and before according to the article).  Those who were already engaged in perpetrating the corruption viewed the act as legally enabling them, which it did, and further expanding corrupt use and abuse of the law, which it did.  Those not subject to those abuses would not have known they were occurring which means probably most of our legislative body was unaware.

Again, I strongly encourage reading what the ACLU says about the ways the PATRIOT Act violates our constitutional rights.  And I remind, also, that the Act was responsible for legalizing indefinite detention of non-citizens which is the last non-surveillance provision on which the ACLU article comments. 

Anyone still wondering why some in law enforcement so boldly take unwarranted, and too often deadly actions that are clearly prejudicial, without being prosecuted - for example high profile widely reported cases, like  most of the  “death by cop” incidents; Ferguson Missouri; the Pipeline; and at the border?  Then look to the PATRIOT Act.  Reporting about the incidents and the perpetrators not being prosecuted, is never connected to the PATRIOT Act.  However, with the PATRIOT Act being in effect, we know publicized incidents about which we are all aware, are abuses that are justified because of the Act - indicating that the corruption of “anything goes” is rampant in our nation.  Perhaps the PATRIOT Act is not even cited in court even though it is the “justification“ which results in a determination to not prosecute perpetrators.  After all reminding folks that the PATRIOT Act is responsible for not prosecuting institutionalized prejudicial crime might motivate we, the people, to raise hell about it next time it is up for a reauthorization vote in our legislative bodies. 

Once again, allow me to make it very clear.  While I support well-written laws that do not violate our rights as a way to strengthen our defense against terrorism, I, for one, do not condone the ways in which the PATRIOT Act violates our constitutional rights, because it can be, and has been used corruptly to abusively and prejudicially target people.

Some links and a few informative excerpts:
Patriot Act - Wikipedia
"The title of the Act is a contrived three letter initialism (USA) preceding a seven letter acronym (PATRIOT), which in combination stand for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001."
"The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001." 

"The USA PATRIOT Act was passed by Congress as a response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Act allows federal officials greater authority in tracking and intercepting communications, both for purposes of law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering."

This may have been the stated purpose but the fact is that the real problems with any laws is the lack of rigorous debate which often shines a light on the weaknesses of a proposed law - more specifically in the case of the PATRIOT Act, debate could have made evident 1) the ways in which the proposed Act could be abused and used unjustly against people unless it was reworded 2) changes that should have been required, to be able to use the Act as it was said to be intended without abuse that is in violation of the constitution. The article makes clear how the Act was threateningly rushed through the Senate and the House with little or no opportunity for familiarization and debate.

From the start the law appeared to be meant as a smoke screen for the purpose of using it unjustly against citizens by legalizing prosecution based on assumption without people or their lawyers being informing of accusations.

Surveillance Under the USA/PATRIOT Act

“215 of the PATRIOT Act violates the Constitution in several ways. It: Violates the Fourth Amendment, which says the government cannot conduct a search without obtaining a warrant and showing probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit a crime.”

The Patriot Act Is a Vital Weapon in Fighting Terrorism
"America needs the PATRIOT Act because it helps prevent terrorism while posing little risk to civil liberties. The law simply lets counterterrorism agents use tools that police officers have used for decades. And it contains elaborate safeguards against abuse."

Whatever the supposed “safeguards” referred to, they did not prevent abuse - especially the abuse of  “guilt by association” assumptions that should never be allowed as justification to initiate punishment of anyone without their knowledge.   That is one of many "loopholes" without supposed safeguard which allows abuse of and by the PATRIOT Act. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the USA PATRIOT Act
This is primarily about library related provisions in the Act.  But it does have a section of links for more information about the Act at the end of the article, including links to reauthorization of the Act, which may include revisions, if any.

Homeland Security Act, Patriot Act, Freedom of Information Act, and HIM - Retired

Chapter 13: Crimes against the Government - 13.2 Crimes Involving Terrorism

Examples of how the Act has been applied in crimes involving terrorism.

Does The Patriot Act Violate Free Speech?
"Does The PATRIOT Act Violate Free Speech? The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that pits an individual's right of free speech and association against a federal law aimed at combating terrorism. ... "My speech is particularly nonviolent," says Ralph Fertig, president of the organization. Feb 23, 2010"

It violates free speech if for no other reason than legalizing prosecution based on false assumptions and false accusations against which one has no defense because of making it illegal to tell the accused and/or a lawyer of the accused. 

From the ACLU page again


"A person or organization forced to turn over records is prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone.  As a result of this gag order, the subjects of surveillance never even find out that their personal records have been examined by the government.  That undercuts an important check and balance on this power: the ability of individuals to challenge illegitimate searches. "

A person can be prosecuted without being informed or their attorney being informed, so there is no opportunity for defense.  That is total abuse which allows total corruption.  Unless we make needed changes to the PATRIOT Act it is only a matter of time until complete and total corruption is common place.  Yet many folks still have no idea it is occurring and the extent to which it has become a reality in our nation.
Once more I ask for we, the people, to choose to become more informed.  Everyone may not be up for researching the Act - so please, at least, read the information at the ACLU website https://www.aclu.org/other/surveillance-under-usapatriot-act about how the Act can and is used to violate our rights.   And if you can spare another moment, than at least take a quick look at this online PDF which is the entirety of the act as passed in 2001 (without updates or revisions), if only for a brief glance at the table of contents which shows how extensive the law actually is:  PUBLIC LAW 107–56—OCT. 26, 2001 which is the act as passed in 2001.