Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

LttE - Patriot Act Abuse

Submitted to the San Antonio Express-News on 11 April 2007:

Letter-writer Stephen Lehman insists that the Patriot Act is necessary and challenged the Express-News to name one citizen whose rights have been violated by the Patriot Act and who has not been linked to terrorism. Since I doubt the Express-News' policy allows it to respond directly to challenges of that sort, I'll gladly fill in and accept the challenge.

In fact, I'll give him a whole case full of citizens: Las Vegas business owner Michael Galardi; former [Clark County] Commissioners Lance Malone, Erin Kenny, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, and Dario Herrera; and former Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald. Each of these citizens were investigated (including phone taps and subpoenas for financial records) by the FBI utilizing Sections 215 and 314 of the Patriot Act, those sections having to do with records searches and money laundering.

This was a corruption case involving business owners bribing public officials to influence regulation at the city and county levels. At no point in the 5-year investigation, case, or trial, nor in any of the very public interviews with Nevada Congressmen and Senators, did the investigators or prosecutors ever even suggest that any of the defendants were associated in the slightest with terrorism. But they sure did like the power the Patriot Act gave them to make their case against the defendants.

Mr. Lehman asserts that "The federal government is too busy to take personal information gathered from justified surveillance and use it to illegally badger or intimidate innocent citizens." Unfortunately Mr. Lehman appears to have forgotten that the federal government he apparently sees as an entity unto itself is made up of people - people just like the rest of us with the same strengths and weaknesses, the same ambitions and failings. The federal government as a whole might seem too busy, but Joe Special Agent at the FBI with a job to do and his own agenda clearly is NOT. When we give a government agent a specific power to do something, we should not be too surprised when he uses it as he sees fit, regardless of what Congress has to say about it.

THAT is what critics of the Patriot Act are critical of, after all - the overzealous, irresponsible, and unconstitutional abuse of powers with no oversight by the legislators who passed the 1000-plus page law without even reading it.

UPDATE: Printed


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