Patriot Act

Not a funny thing, but just curious - how many of my fellow Forumites have strong feelings about the Patriot Act? Guess I'm feeling a little pissed about it. One of my state's citizens (a lawyer, but we shouldn't hold that against him) has just spent two weeks in jail, without charges, based upon a fragment of a fingerprint which was determined not to belong to him. The FBI has apologized (actually they "regretted" any "inconvenience" to the subject and his family), but this guy has lost two weeks of income, had his property seized (which a federal judge has ordered returned) without any apparent compensation based upon the government's mistake.

My initial reaction is that this appears to be something similiar to what the Soviet Union would have done with the GRU or the KGB.

Between the adventure in Iraq and our knee-jerk reaction to real/perceived terrorism and what's happening in the world, I can't help but think that we are now the biggest, baddest boy on the block and we're exploiting that to our peril.

After watching tonight's news, I just wanted to vent. Thanks for listening.


  • 30 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • .....Sounds like the opening remarks of Nancy Pelosi's next tirade on CNN. Keep the faith, my son, if this fingerprint were actually that of Spain's train-bomber and he had not been arrested, you would be screaming from the rafters that security was too lax in America. A lawyer spending two weeks in jail is a good thing. Now he can write a book and will never have to work again. x:-)
  • It is a delicate balancing act. At the same time people are expressing concern for false imprisonment of suspected terrorists, there are investigations going on about how and why we could let 9/11 happen. Two years ago Guilanni was being highly praised now he is being vilified. There needs to be enough protection to avoid another 9/11, but it can't be so strong as to turn us into a police state. I'm not sure where that line is.
  • Right on. There is so much erosion of our rights under the constitution. The Patriot Act seems to be a big bump in the road. I am, also, concerned about who administers this law. Haven't been this concerned since Nixon was in the White House and Hoover ran the FBI.
  • God forbid if I had to go through what the lawyer did. It would be horrible. But I do think about or contrast that with all of the accusations being thrown at Bush that he did know, should have known, AND should have prevented 9/11! It's a lot to think about.
  • Yes, I have strong feelings and they are the same as yours. There seems to be a lot of thoughtlessness going around. We can do better.
  • I know someone who knows the man who was arrested and detained. A sad and scarey situation indeed. I just don't get the whole partial finger print thing...don't you have to have your prints on record in order for them to be identified in a law enforcement database?
  • Lawyers, as officers of the court, have their fingerprints on file, along with anyone who's ever been in the service or had a background investigation conducted on them.
  • what makes this case particularly concerning is that the FBI detained him based upon a PICTURE of the fingerprint! Kudos to them for coming clean...god knows they didn't have to!! But you're right, it is scary.

    In the hours after 9/11 the Patriot Act seemed like a good idea...and congress voted for it because, well, how could they vote against it? If so, they were voting against the safety of America and her people. We are really in a "you're with us or you're the enemy" mentality. McCarthyism, I think it's called. THAT's what concerns me most. We cannot debate the course of the nation without being called traitors or accused of being "politically motivated".

    scary times forumites.

  • D'oh #-o ! That makes sense. Thanks Beag.
  • I am torn. On the one hand, I value my privacy and feel that I am a law abiding citizen and should be left alone. On the other hand, what if I innocently did something that could be misinterpreted as a threat? Isn't it my neighbor's duty to have someone check it out? This is a whole new world to us, I think its going to take us some time to figure out how its supposed to go and find a happy medium.
  • On the other hand, what if
    >I innocently did something that could be
    >misinterpreted as a threat? Isn't it my
    >neighbor's duty to have someone check it out?

    It is indeed. I think we got hit so hard on 911 because we as a country were basically sleeping and not giving weight to the brewing hostility with our "neighbors"... From the FBI down to the aviation school teachers they should have/could have known something was not right but because we had never experienced such an event on the mainland, didn't let it register deep enough...IMHO.

    I don't like to fly but when I get to the airport and have to take off my shoes, belt and jewelery, have my bags searched, etc., I don't complain because if they're doing it to me, I have to believe they're doing it to everyone now and that should help to keep it safer in the air.

    I actually wrote to my congressman about the part of the patriot act that says people can enter my house and/or tap my lines any old time they want with or without the suspicion of illegal activity. I didn't like that part.

  • Security precautions at airports are merely a minor inconvenience compared to being arrested, kept in a confinement facility with no charges being lodged against you, possibly held incommunicado (in the case of the Guantanamo detainees), having your property seized with little hope of redeeming it, and then having the government release you and say, "Oops! Sorry 'bout that, sport. On your way, now."

    I'm sorry, but to me that smacks of totalitarian state tactics. Only things missing are the thumbscrews.

  • I agree Beag.

    The lawyer is Muslim. I cannot help but think that was counted as "a strike against him". I hope it wasn't...but I have a strong feeling it was. Makes me even more sad about the situation.
  • I no longer like to fly but when I do, I am happy to comply with the searches. That's just the way life is now. I was shocked to see people arguing about having their laptops, phones, etc checked.

    I would not like someone coming into my house or tapping my phone though. I have nothing to hide but I guess thats the reason I wouldn't like it. I live a pretty mundane life - I work, go to school, spend time with friends and family. I pay my taxes and vote. I'd like to just continue along with my regular life.

  • I don't think that's exactly true. I saw a program the other night explaining the wire tap thing this way: You still must have a court order to have the wiretap, however, so many suspects being tapped have throw away cell phones, which required a repeat court order every time they used a new phone, that the act keeps them from having to get the order over and over, or at least that's what I think the report said.

    And for all of the Bush-haters out there; there are probably some good reasons for the color-alert notifications and detentions. But, just one reason is that the Bush-haters are so anxious to jump on the scream-and-shout bandwagon and say, "You're not doing enough. You're not doing enough. You're not alerting the citizenry, you're letting dangerous people run loose!" I think really that is the only reason we have this silly orange, red, yellow alert thing with that cardboard cutout up there reading it off, what's his name.

    And will someone please tell me what you think the infamous ACLU would have done had some official of the government made inquiries about that group of muslims taking flying lessons. Jesse Jackson, Sharpton, Ted Kennedy and the ACLU would have had his hide, pronto. Where I was employed in 99 we had a large group of middle-easterners who were first time truck drivers and the man who owned all the trucks drove a Rolls and was from Jordan. You can bet your sweet A** I turned them in to the FBI, but only after 9/11. I would have been fired and hauled up on charges by the EEOC if I had done so earlier!

    Sorry, didn't mean for a conservative to butt in here. Carry on.
  • Hurray for the Patriot Act. one less lawyer "practicing (playing at) law" is a good thing. How many lawyers have twisted and distorted the law for their own advantage.

    Now to the heart of the matter. One thing that has probably been left out of the story is the fact that nothing in the Patriot Act skirts or violates the Constitution. If you read the end of the law, it is very emphatic that searches, seizures, warrants, etc. will all be executed under the purview of the courts...exactly what the Constitution requires.

    Also, the fact that a Fedral judge ordered all his property returned is proper. Don't sweat the fact he lost two weeks salary, he probably has enought to retire on now and can probably make up in one week what he lost. And the fact that the FBI said OOPS & apologized is very rare for them but a good thing.

    Put this all in perspective. When Clinton was in office, he excessively used the IRS to torment, torture, and seize the assets of his opponents. Where was the out cry then? There was no returning of property, no compensation for the loss of property, and no apologies. And all done in violation of the constitution.

    The enviromentalist wackos are still getting their way with the seizure of property without just compensation as required by the Constitution
  • "Don't sweat the fact he lost two weeks salary, he probably has enought to retire on now and can probably make up in one week what he lost."

    It's not the two weeks' salary that's really the issue here (although from the news footage of the way the lawyer dresses and his office, I can't imagine he's making a lot of money in his small practice). How would you feel if you lost two weeks of your FREEDOM? And no one told you WHY you were in custody? You seem to advocate such a scheme, despite the fact that it flies in the face of constitutional protections, despite what you say.
  • I knew it would come to this but I am so tired of the name calling by the right-wing republicans (small r is intentional). It appears name calling from the right is an excuse not to discuss an issue. Why am I concerned about the Patriot Act, first of all, I do believe in the law. I don't believe the anybody has the right to make up a category (in this case enemy combatant) so they can skirt the law. Last I heard, everyone is entitled to know why they are being held by the government, everyone is entitled to a lawyer, everyone is entitled a speedy trial. Ask all the people being held in Guantanamo.
    In this city, we have a large population that believes in the Muslim faith (some are truck drivers, some are cab drives, some even own rolls.) Heck, some of them shop at Wal-mart. I do not know why that is suspicious behavior. Wanting to learning to fly a plane, but not how to take off or land it, is suspicious. Anyhow, a few are my friends. They are as patriotic as anyone else living in this country. If they are arrested for being Muslim and/or being legal immigrants than we have totally forgotten why this country was founded and why our ancestors moved here.

    As for the environmental wackos, I am proud to be one. Matter-of-fact, I am so wacko that I don't even own a car. So do not accuse lil 'ol liberal me of using an expensive gas guzzling suv(something the vice-president seems to be very familiar with)to get the oil companies richer.

    Enough said for now...and please note-I did not get into name calling.
  • The way the rules of the game are written not "everyone" in entitled to an attorney and all the things you listed, Whatever.

    The US government intentionally labeled those held in Cuba as "enemy combatants" so abiding by the rules of the Geneva Convention would not be required. It will be argued for many years to come what the status of these folks should be...since they allegedly weren't fighting for a government, but rather a cause. I have to agree though, if we have evidence, try them (preferably in a world court) and move on.
  • It appears name calling from the right is an excuse not to discuss an issue.

    Whatever, you are a victim of your own words. The "name calling" is not an excuse but a way to identify. I clearly discussed the point being talked about. The point was the abuse and skirting of the Constitution. And you are also a perfect example of your own hypocrisy. You will chide some oone like me for name calling while you do the same thing...right wing republican (small r intentional).

    Just as you are proud of your liberlism, I am proud of my conservativism. I own an SUV and a pickup truck. I spend a lot of time in our Rocky Mountains out here and I consider both a necessity.

    As for oil companies & Cheney,, where is it written that it is illegal to make money in business. That is one of the purposes of business. As businesses grow they hire people, like you. And the economy grows. It's called capitalism, the most productive and fairest economic system in the world.
  • Beagle and Whatever, you are stating emphatically that this lawyer was thrown in jail and NOT told why. Do you really believe that? I find that very hard to believe, especially since it was reported in our paper here in little ole upstate NY that he was a suspected accomplice in the Spain bombing. The charges may have been wrong based on false information, but this guy was not just whisked away in the middle of the night to some hell-hole jail, locked up and given no information why he was being detained. Mistakes are made. IF it turned out he was one of the Spanish bombing collaborators, we would have praised the officials for their excellent detective work. No surprise that he is a Muslim. The terrorists we are fighting are Muslim, not Taoists, Buddhists, Animists, Christians, Jews etc.
  • You are right, Ray. I misspoke. I'm sure they told him WHY he was in custody (he was being held as a material witness), but he was not charged with anything. And under the statute he could be held INDEFINITELY without being charged - and something that our country has always prided itself on is the fact that an individual must be charged or released within a certain period of time.
  • I don't subscribe to one political party over another, I don't consider myself conservative or liberal (I'm conservative on some things and liberal on others - I'm a mutt!). I don't know all the laws of my own country, or probably even most of them to tell you the truth. I don't know much about the Patriot Act. All I know is I want to be safe and I want others to be safe, too. I know that if the police arrested ME today for something I didn't do I would be scared out of my mind, but I would also be confident that justice and truth would prevail, as I have not done anything wrong and have nothing to hide. However, after the ordeal was over I would not be surprised if I felt anger as well as relief.

    I don't think our justice system is perfect. I do think there are people in US prisons right now that should NOT be. I also think there are people who aren't in US prisons right now who DEFINITELY should be. Are mistakes made? Yes. Should they be corrected as much as possible? Yes. I don't have a solution to the situation, I'm just saying I can see why there is fear, anger, feelings of injustice, and paranoia surrounding this incident.
  • Pollyanna is going to chime in here. I will say that I do not have affiliations with either the conservative or liberal camps.

    The United States is the light of the world b/c of the freedoms its citizens enjoy. I've often thought when watching the anti US demonstrations in other countries that if we offered all the participants $1000 and the chance to come to the US how long the demonstration would last.

    As is often repeated, freedom comes with price. Currently that price is that we KNOW ourselves to be less safe then we believed ourselves to be before 9/11. Even with the passage of the Patriot act we are still less safe. It was indeed a "knee jerk" reaction to a scary situation. Not well thought out and easily turned to uses not intended in the original formulation. It should be repealed.

    As for those who believe that Bush had knowledge that could have prevented 9/11 I would propose that our government has all sorts of knowledge that could prevent all sorts of terrible things from occuring. But the terrible things will occur whether we know about them before hand or not. What would have been a reasonable reaction to the knowledge that terrorists may fly into tall buildings? How cooperative would the populace be to measures set in place b/c someone in the government has information that a particular event may happen?

    Thank you for your attention, I will now descend from my soap box.....
  • Well said, Lisa. Interesting comment from Brandon Mayfield during a news conference the other day - something like those who trade security for freedom will ultimately lose both. I'm sure someone famous said that once, but I still think it's true.
  • I am more than willing to give up some of my freedom in the name of security. But I do not want to live in a police state where I have to fear the authorities.

    I have a friend and former co-worker who escaped from El Salvador and is now teaching in Boston. When her mother died she could not go to the funeral because the police there will shoot her on sight because of her political views. She was never a violent person. I never want to live like that.

    As a conservative democrat, I am, of course, torn on the subject. I can easily see both sides of the issue. Which is right? Its too soon to tell, we are so new at this. I just assume that the government can find out whatever they want about me whenever they want, without my knowing about it. I was a huge X-Files fan and took most of their government conspiracy episodes as gospel truth. Trust no one!
  • Rad, I think there are any number of US citizens who feel the same as you. Reminds me of a 60 Minutes episode years and years ago about Americans who emigrated to the Soviet Union, not because of their political beliefs but because they didn't feel they could raise their children safely in America's cities. They would marvel about how they could walk the streets of Moscow unmolested at any time of the day or night and how there was virtually no crime. But at what a price!!
  • Thanks Beagle!

    The actual quote is "Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security, will not have nor do they deserve, either one." Thomas Jefferson.

    It's one of the personal things I have posted by my desk, along with a picture of the words from the Declaration that are on the wall inside the Jefferson Monument....
  • I knew it was someone illustrious. Can't imagine a lawyer coming up with something so profound all on his own. x;-)
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 05-26-04 AT 02:32PM (CST)[/font][br][br]I believe it was Benjamin Franklin

    Yeah, Thomas Jefferson, yeah that's what I meant to say, yeah.x:-8
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