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Patriot Act: Good or Bad?


John Simkin
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BBC Report:

President George W Bush has admitted he authorised secret monitoring of communications within the United States in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks.

The monitoring was of "people with known links to al-Qaeda and related terrorist organisations", he said.

He said the programme was reviewed every 45 days, and he made clear he did not plan to halt the eavesdropping.

He also rebuked senators who blocked the renewal of his major anti-terror law, the Patriot Act, on Friday.

By preventing the extension of the act, due to expire on 31 December, they had, he said, acted irresponsibly and were endangering the lives of US citizens.

The president, who was visibly angry, also suggested that a New York Times report which had revealed the monitoring on Friday had been irresponsible.

America's enemies had "learned information they should not have", he said in his weekly radio address, which was delivered live from the White House after a pre-recorded version was scrapped.

Senators from both Mr Bush's Republican party and the opposition Democrats expressed concerns about the monitoring programme on Friday.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there was no doubt it was "inappropriate", adding that Senate hearings would be held early next year as "a very, very high priority".

"This is Big Brother run amok," was the reaction of Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy.

Senator Russell Feingold, another Democrat, called it a "shocking revelation" that "ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American".

But in his address on Saturday, Mr Bush said the programme was "critical to saving American lives".

The president said some of the 11 September hijackers inside the US had communicated with associates outside before the attacks - but the US had not known that until it was too late.

"The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and our civil liberties," he said.

Monitoring was, he said, a "vital tool in our war against the terrorists".

He said Congressional leaders had been briefed on the programme, which he has already renewed more than 30 times.

Mr Bush harshly criticised the leak that had made the programme public.

"Revealing classified information is illegal. It alerts our enemies," he said.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Mr Bush had signed a secret presidential order following the attacks on 11 September 2001, allowing the National Security Agency to track the international telephone calls and e-mails of hundreds of people without referral to the courts.

Previously, surveillance on American soil was generally limited to foreign embassies.

American law usually requires a secret court, known as a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to give permission before intelligence officers can conduct surveillance on US soil.

What do Americans think about this development?

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The president, who was visibly angry, also suggested that a New York Times report which had revealed the monitoring on Friday had been irresponsible.... "This is Big Brother run amok," was the reaction of Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy. Senator Russell Feingold, another Democrat, called it a "shocking revelation" that "ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American".... What do Americans think about this development?

The Patriot Act is an abomination, but we've long known that. What was surprising this past week was the timing of the NY Times' disclosure of the domestic surveillance. Bush was angered by the timing because it overshadowed the supposedly good news of the Iraqi election. What has been less noticed is that the Times had already held their story back for over a year, a period that included the 2004 presidential election. So we had Scooter Libby, et al., keeping the lid on Plamegate through the election and now we find that the NY Times concealed a domestic surveillance operation through the election. This country continues to be hijacked, electorally, just as surely as the Kennedy assassination hijacked the sitting government in 1963.

T.C.

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It should be evident by now to those of us living in the US that it is possible we are living in the next Reich; in this case, the Bush Reich. 9/11 has appropriately been compared to the Reichstag Fire. Since W took power we have seen the continuous abrogation of the most basic human rights guaranteed to us, supposedly, by the Constitution, which W calls "Just a d*** piece of paper".

Prior to W, and even since before the JFK assassination, Bush 41 was in the wings, mentoring the destruction of the Kennedy dynasty while advancing that of the Bush family.

Ironically, the most significant issue isn't even the gutting of the rights of US citizens; it is why this is happening and who is profiting from this.

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What do Americans think about this development?

Here's what the New York Times thinks of it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/18/opinion/18sun1.html?hp

It strikes me as an oddly defiant editorial (with no mention, incidentally, of how the Times sat on this story for so long). I wonder if it was actually written in Langley. Perhaps the CIA resents the attention and privilege given to the NSA, hence the bitter tone of the editorial.

In any case, most Americans don't read Times editorials. Only one big terrorist attack away from martial law (and they've been assured by Cheney that another terrorist attack a la 9/11 is not a matter of if but when), the American sheeple, I believe, are now sufficiently conditioned to live willingly under fascism. Such an American state is manifestly in development.

What is ridiculous about this whole thing (the Patriot Act, domestic spying, torture, the "war on terror" in general) is that it's a case of the fox guarding the henhouse. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic and horrific in terms of lives lost or ruined.

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What do Americans think about this development?

Here's what the New York Times thinks of it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/18/opinion/18sun1.html?hp

It strikes me as an oddly defiant editorial (with no mention, incidentally, of how the Times sat on this story for so long). I wonder if it was actually written in Langley. Perhaps the CIA resents the attention and privilege given to the NSA, hence the bitter tone of the editorial.

In any case, most Americans don't read Times editorials. Only one big terrorist attack away from martial law (and they've been assured by Cheney that another terrorist attack a la 9/11 is not a matter of if but when), the American sheeple, I believe, are now sufficiently conditioned to live willingly under fascism. Such an American state is manifestly in development.

What is ridiculous about this whole thing (the Patriot Act, domestic spying, torture, the "war on terror" in general) is that it's a case of the fox guarding the henhouse. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic and horrific in terms of lives lost or ruined.

I would like to post an email that was sent to Senator John Cornyn today by me with regards to his comments that implied that the 'uproar over the NSA revelations was to sell a book.'

"I would first like to state that I voted for you the last time your name was on the ballot, here in Texas, my contacting you today is in reference to the grave 'status-quo' when it comes to the modus operandi of the Bush administration, in its manner of constantly "invoking 9-11, and the particular irksome habit the administration utilizes regarding the use of 'fear as a political weapon,' when it comes to the issue of 'terrorism.' I am not a liberal, I am a conservative, however the increasingly shrill tone coming from the Republican dominated Congress was only exacerbated by your comments regarding 'NSA wiretap revelations being revealed for the purpose of selling a book.'

I would submit to you Senator, that your comments were very disappointing in the sense, that the crux of the debate is not 'the timing of when this information came out' but the actual information ITSELF. Correct me if I am wrong, but I am not aware the N.S.A is a 'left-wing organization.' The very fact that this act was 'illegal' according to our current laws combined with the fact that there were some members of the NSA who refused to carry out the directives, concerning the wiretaps 'IS THE STORY!'

It is very difficult for me not to believe your comments served 'no other purpose' than to exacerbate an already fatigued dynamic that exists between the left and the right in this country, if that was not your intention, I apologize. The American people are not idiots Senator, it does not matter how many times 'the President, VP-Cheney, or 'Condi' tell us that 'nothing was done that was wrong'. Intent is not the issue, at least for me, in the sense that I will give our Chief-Executive the 'benefit of the doubt' that he was trying to protect Americans, but at the same time I see very distressing elements in this that are very evocative of the FBI's COINTELPRO program which contributed to the scandalous environment which Washington D.C. was percieved as being during the Nixon Administration Era. In closing, I would suggest to you and your 'party' that you remind yourselves that 'according to the Constitution of these United States' elected officials are the 'servant's of the people' not their masters. There is, whether you happen to agree with the premise or not, a large amount of Americans who see in the policies of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party in this country an almost 'contempt' for American's who fall under the category of being the have-nots, (some would say the marginalized) and those who are not as enthusiastic for the continual assault on our civil liberties regarding the 'Patriot-Act.' For the record, I share the perception many, many American's have that in these very, very difficult day's our country faces, the status quo in Washington D.C. is a domestic policy that is an embarrassment to this country's status in regards to how the rest of the world see's us, at best and displays the potentiality of turning towards some kind of 'Orwellian nightmare' at worst. I will continue to work peacefully, and with malice towards none, for the common good of this country, but I will do so without any ties whatsoever to the Republican Party until it shows the inclination to abandon 'business as usual' as its guiding vision in the third millennium. Regards Robert Howard"

Edited by Robert Howard
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BBC Report:

President George W Bush has admitted he authorised secret monitoring of communications within the United States in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks.

The monitoring was of "people with known links to al-Qaeda and related terrorist organisations", he said.

He said the programme was reviewed every 45 days, and he made clear he did not plan to halt the eavesdropping.

He also rebuked senators who blocked the renewal of his major anti-terror law, the Patriot Act, on Friday.

By preventing the extension of the act, due to expire on 31 December, they had, he said, acted irresponsibly and were endangering the lives of US citizens.

The president, who was visibly angry, also suggested that a New York Times report which had revealed the monitoring on Friday had been irresponsible.

America's enemies had "learned information they should not have", he said in his weekly radio address, which was delivered live from the White House after a pre-recorded version was scrapped.

Senators from both Mr Bush's Republican party and the opposition Democrats expressed concerns about the monitoring programme on Friday.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there was no doubt it was "inappropriate", adding that Senate hearings would be held early next year as "a very, very high priority".

"This is Big Brother run amok," was the reaction of Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy.

Senator Russell Feingold, another Democrat, called it a "shocking revelation" that "ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American".

But in his address on Saturday, Mr Bush said the programme was "critical to saving American lives".

The president said some of the 11 September hijackers inside the US had communicated with associates outside before the attacks - but the US had not known that until it was too late.

"The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and our civil liberties," he said.

Monitoring was, he said, a "vital tool in our war against the terrorists".

He said Congressional leaders had been briefed on the programme, which he has already renewed more than 30 times.

Mr Bush harshly criticised the leak that had made the programme public.

"Revealing classified information is illegal. It alerts our enemies," he said.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Mr Bush had signed a secret presidential order following the attacks on 11 September 2001, allowing the National Security Agency to track the international telephone calls and e-mails of hundreds of people without referral to the courts.

Previously, surveillance on American soil was generally limited to foreign embassies.

American law usually requires a secret court, known as a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to give permission before intelligence officers can conduct surveillance on US soil.

What do Americans think about this development?

*******************************************************************

Are you asking those of us with I.Q.'s above, or below 100?

Those above 100 should be equally appalled and livid that we've allowed this government to be usurped by a laissez-faire condoning, fascist, neo-con congress in 1994, for starters. In other words, how was it that so many people were asleep at the wheel to have allowed this to occur? Only in a system whose checks and balances are so out of wack! But, this certainly paved the way for the ultimate low achiever to have sailed to victory on his father's coat-tails. What do you expect from a moron? You've got ONE party with TWO branches. The blind leading the blind.

Those under 100, will immediately find this inquiry to be UN-AMERICAN. Why? Because they voted for Bush solely based on his christian faith. Because, the majority between NY and LA comprise the RED states, and you "best believe" they're standing by their president, RIGHT or WRONG. Why? Because they voted for him, and no amount of pointing out to these people how the inequities in their lives, their lack of healthcare, their waitress, stock-boy jobs at minimum wage, and the fact that they'll never be able to rise above this poverty level of existence is ever going to register in their pea-brained minds, as a direct correlation to the moronic idiot they voted into office, based on his religious beliefs. Also known as, blind faith. But, thats merely MHO.

Check out TRUTHOUT'S traveling roadshow through the RED states. They're interviewing the American heartland, asking their reasons for voting for Alfred E. Neuman.

Edited by Terry Mauro
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BBC Report:

President George W Bush has admitted he authorised secret monitoring of communications within the United States in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks.

The monitoring was of "people with known links to al-Qaeda and related terrorist organisations", he said.

He said the programme was reviewed every 45 days, and he made clear he did not plan to halt the eavesdropping.

He also rebuked senators who blocked the renewal of his major anti-terror law, the Patriot Act, on Friday.

By preventing the extension of the act, due to expire on 31 December, they had, he said, acted irresponsibly and were endangering the lives of US citizens.

The president, who was visibly angry, also suggested that a New York Times report which had revealed the monitoring on Friday had been irresponsible.

America's enemies had "learned information they should not have", he said in his weekly radio address, which was delivered live from the White House after a pre-recorded version was scrapped.

Senators from both Mr Bush's Republican party and the opposition Democrats expressed concerns about the monitoring programme on Friday.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there was no doubt it was "inappropriate", adding that Senate hearings would be held early next year as "a very, very high priority".

"This is Big Brother run amok," was the reaction of Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy.

Senator Russell Feingold, another Democrat, called it a "shocking revelation" that "ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American".

But in his address on Saturday, Mr Bush said the programme was "critical to saving American lives".

The president said some of the 11 September hijackers inside the US had communicated with associates outside before the attacks - but the US had not known that until it was too late.

"The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and our civil liberties," he said.

Monitoring was, he said, a "vital tool in our war against the terrorists".

He said Congressional leaders had been briefed on the programme, which he has already renewed more than 30 times.

Mr Bush harshly criticised the leak that had made the programme public.

"Revealing classified information is illegal. It alerts our enemies," he said.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Mr Bush had signed a secret presidential order following the attacks on 11 September 2001, allowing the National Security Agency to track the international telephone calls and e-mails of hundreds of people without referral to the courts.

Previously, surveillance on American soil was generally limited to foreign embassies.

American law usually requires a secret court, known as a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to give permission before intelligence officers can conduct surveillance on US soil.

What do Americans think about this development?

*******************************************************************

Are you asking those of us with I.Q.'s above, or below 100?

Those above 100 should be equally appalled and livid that we've allowed this government to be usurped by a laissez-faire condoning, fascist, neo-con congress in 1994, for starters. In other words, how was it that so many people were asleep at the wheel to have allowed this to occur? Only in a system whose checks and balances are so out of wack! But, this certainly paved the way for the ultimate low achiever to have sailed to victory on his father's coat-tails. What do you expect from a moron? You've got ONE party with TWO branches. The blind leading the blind.

Those under 100, will immediately find this inquiry to be UN-AMERICAN. Why? Because they voted for Bush solely based on his christian faith. Because, the majority between NY and LA comprise the RED states, and you "best believe" they're standing by their president, RIGHT or WRONG. Why? Because they voted for him, and no amount of pointing out to these people how the inequities in their lives, their lack of healthcare, their waitress, stock-boy jobs at minimum wage, and the fact that they'll never be able to rise above this poverty level of existence is ever going to register in their pea-brained minds, as a direct correlation to the moronic idiot they voted into office, based on his religious beliefs. Also known as, blind faith. But, thats merely MHO.

Check out TRUTHOUT'S traveling roadshow through the RED states. They're interviewing the American heartland, asking their reasons for voting for Alfred E. Neuman.

Bush's authorization to allow illegal wiretapping is in violation of the US Constitution and is an impeachable offense. Bush, nor any other president, has the authority to initiate such action.

I accidently watched about 30 seconds of Bush's speech tonight(flipped over from ESPN football to watch FOX Family Guy), and was SO pissed when I heard him say something about the "democratic constitution in Iraq", especially after what was revealed in the last few days. He clearly violated the constitution of the United States. If Congress had any schmaltz, they'd move on this quickly. Even the Republicans are irate. It's simply unbelieveable what this guy and his cronies have done.

RJS

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That there is even a DEBATE about the Patriot Act shows how far fascism has come in America. I cannot watch W without intense anger, so I didnot see his speech last night, except in passing. I will read it in the paper. I don't believe one word of what he says. The NSA has been spying on people for a long time, so this admission is old news.

If this were Clinton impeachment proceedings would be underway already, but W, like Ray Gun, is a no stick president. I was at a law Christmas party the other night, and we were all having a few drinks. So I asked some very inteligent attorneys who I know are also Republicans how they can cope with Bush. And they thnk he's just fine. It's like the right has been blinded, literally. Bush could walk up to somone and shoot him cold blank and the right would find a way to justify it.

Dawn

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The Patriot Act is an affront to Americans who cherish freedom. However, there appear to be a majority in America today who cherish security over freedom, who cherish material blessings over constitutionally-guaranteed rights. If such had been the case in 1775, the USA would still be a British colony.

Is security so dear that the spying by our own government upon its own citizens--once considered a defining characteristic of Soviet oppression of its citizens--should be considered not only necessary but beneficial? Do we no longer cherish those freedoms that for 230 years the blood of patriots has been spilled to protect and preserve?

A recent law passed by Congress included a provision that, in effect, rolled back the current administration's prohibition of negotiating lower drug prices for senior citizens. One of the sponsors was Kentucky representative Anne Northup, an ardent supporter of the Republicans on most other legislation. Northup was LIVID when the White House informed her office that the provision of the LAW was only "advisory" and was not binding on the current administration.

This is the same Republican party who spouted the line, "we are a nation of LAWS" during the Clinton administration. Evidently, that must've changed somewhere along the line. When a LAW, passed by Congress and SIGNED by the president, is deemed to be only "advisory" in nature and not binding, the administration has declared, in effect, that they are ABOVE THE LAW. While kings and despots may be above the law, American presidents are NOT...unless and/or until the prople decide that it really doesn't matter anymore. If/when that occurs, the lives of all those who sacrificed for our freedoms are for naught, and freedom is simply a hollow word, devoid of meaning outside partisam political context.

And the Patriot Act is merely a symptom, and not the problem itself. The problem is within the hearts and minds of Americans who believe that laws like the Patriot Act make them MORE free, and not less. And apparently, many Americans don't have the mental capacity--or the attention span--to tell the difference.

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What I find interesting about the whole thing isn't that the Bush Administration admitted spying on us... well, DUH. Nor is it that they've been doing this in the name of our defense...well, yeah, that's their built-in excuse. It's that they already have special courts to authorize these things, and that Bush decided with the help of his torture-is-acceptable-if-you-say-so Justice Department, that he no longer needed to follow the law. Many of Bush's Republican supporters are even scratching their heads on this one. How is ignoring the law and going behind the backs of the courts--which have served as basically a rubber stamp--saving lives and making us more secure? Bush has not even tried to explain this one. He hasn't pointed out one incident where time was oif the essence and where he couldn't wait the day or two necessary to get court approval. It was just a pure power play on his part, and he got caught playing king in what is supposedly a democracy.

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he got caught playing king in what is supposedly a democracy.

And he has the gall to say that the NYT running the story was "shameful." IOW shame on those who caught him! This kind of Orwellian newspeak would be humorous in something like a SNL skit. But this is real life (I think - I'm not even sure anymore).

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What I find interesting about the whole thing isn't that the Bush Administration admitted spying on us... well, DUH. Nor is it that they've been doing this in the name of our defense...well, yeah, that's their built-in excuse. It's that they already have special courts to authorize these things, and that Bush decided with the help of his torture-is-acceptable-if-you-say-so Justice Department, that he no longer needed to follow the law. Many of Bush's Republican supporters are even scratching their heads on this one. How is ignoring the law and going behind the backs of the courts--which have served as basically a rubber stamp--saving lives and making us more secure? Bush has not even tried to explain this one. He hasn't pointed out one incident where time was oif the essence and where he couldn't wait the day or two necessary to get court approval. It was just a pure power play on his part, and he got caught playing king in what is supposedly a democracy.

Yes, Pat and then he had the audacity to 'blame the leakers;' as if revealing (what according to the media said initially was 'the leaking' of an 'illegal act' (didn't Woodward and Bernstein get a Pulitzer Prize for doing something in that vein when another Prez was in office?) was some type of moral transgression. If it was truly illegal why haven't charges been filed as in an 'article of impeachment.' Could it be that the Democratic Party is so tuned in to the reality that in the Wonderland of FOX News and MSNBC etc.., legality vs illegality are 'irrelevant' when faced with a population so out of touch with reality that 50 plus % of the American people believed that Iraq was 'connected' to 9-11? Ostensibly they failed to notice that not a single hijacker was from that country? It is an inversion of the Groucho Marx quote "Who are you going to believe me, or your own eyes?"

All I can say is that I have a strong instinct that there is a lot that is taking place behind the scenes (Example a 'closed-door session of Congress' two or three weeks ago,) that prevents one from getting the 'big picture' of what is happening. I realize that to say that is 'classic conspiratorial rhetoric' but if we can discover over 40 years after the fact that there was going to be 'an invasion of Cuba on Dec 1, 1963,' I suppose to say that is not as illogical as one might think.

Edited by Robert Howard
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***********************************************************

May I quote John Lennon on this one?

"The F.B.I.I.I.I.I.I.I.I.I, and the C.I.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A.A, and the B.B.C., and the K.G.B.

Dig it! Dig it! Dig it! Matt Moltbey [sp.?]."

I don't know, but for some strange reason after reading that first url, that's what came into my mind's ear. He was spot on. Sorry.

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Tonight while decorating the tree with the TV on, a news segment came on with a clip of Bush in a press conference, defending his order for the NSA eavesdropping. Before I could get to the remote control to hit the mute button and change channels (luckily I didn't knock over the tree), I heard Bush say "We've got to be fast on our feet."

"We've got to be fast on our feet." This administration's supply of Orwellian newspeak is inexhaustible. Bush was really fast on his feet on the morning of 9/11, wasn't he, after being told America was under attack? We all remember him sitting there in that reading lesson for 7 minutes or so, never once using his feet to go see what was happening and what was being done or needed to be done.

And Donald Rumsfeld, the other half of the Defense Command Authority, was really fast on his feet too that morning, wasn't he? After being told that the second plane had hit the WTC, he just sat in his office listening to his daily CIA briefer as usual, till his own building got hit. Then, instead of going to the National Military Command Center, as one might expect a Sec of Defense to do when the nation is under attack, to see what was known, what was happening, what was being done, etc., he goes outside and walks around and plays medic, while the NMCC staff is trying to find him. He finally walks into the NMCC about 10:30 am, after they've looked for him for almost an hour. The Defense Command Authority during the terrorist attacks of 9/11 was really fast on its feet.

I would also mention how General Myers, Acting Chairman of the JCS that morning, sat and did nothing instead of being fast on his feet during the attacks, but the point is, there seems to have been a conspicuous team effort by those at the top of the nation's defense during the attacks to NOT be fast on their feet. (To be fast on their feet would involve being confronted with information and having to take some kind of action accordingly.) But now, when it behooves him, Bush justifies illegal spying on U.S. citizens, in the name of fighting terrorism, by saying "We've got to be fast on our feet."

The shameless hypocrisy is sickening, but it's just the kind of crap that I expect to hear out of this president, which is why I risked knocking over the tree tonight to try to avoid hearing or seeing him. I wasn't quite quick enough, or fast on my feet, and as you can see I'm still not over it.

Edited by Ron Ecker
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