Skip to comments.Senator Rand Paul's letter about the PATRIOT Act (To America from a True Patriot!)
Posted on 02/15/2011 11:11:02 AM PST by broken_arrow1
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Rand Paul (Ky.) released the following Dear Colleague letter to his fellow Senators this morning regarding the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act. (2/15/2011)
James Otis argued against general warrants and writs of assistance that were issued by British soldiers without judicial review and that did not name the subject or items to be searched.
He condemned these general warrants as "the worst instrument[s] of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty and the fundamental principles of law, that ever w[ere] found in an English law book." Otis objected to these writs of assistance because they "placed the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer." The Fourth Amendment was intended to guarantee that only judges-not soldiers or policemen-would issue warrants. Otis' battle against warrantless searches led to our Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable government intrusion.
My main objection to the PATRIOT Act is that searches that should require a judge's warrant are performed with a letter from an FBI agent-a National Security Letter ("NSL").
I object to these warrantless searches being performed on United States citizens. I object to the 200,000 NSL searches that have been performed without a judge's warrant.
I object to over 2 million searches of bank records, called Suspicious Activity Reports, performed on U.S. citizens without a judge's warrant.
As February 28th approaches, with three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act set to expire, it is time to re-consider this question: Do the many provisions of this bill, which were enacted in such haste after 9/11, have an actual basis in our Constitution, and are they even necessary to achieve valid law-enforcement goals?
The USA PATRIOT Act, passed in the wake of the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, is no doubt well-intentioned. However, rather than examine what went wrong, and fix the problems, Congress instead hastily passed a long-standing wish list of power grabs like warrantless searches and roving wiretaps. The government greatly expanded its own power, ignoring obvious answers in favor of the permanent expansion of a police state.
It is not acceptable to willfully ignore the most basic provisions of our Constitution-in this case-the Fourth and First Amendments-in the name of "security."
For example, one of the three provisions set to expire on February 28th-the "library provision," section 215 of the PATRIOT Act-allows the government to obtain records from a person or entity by making only the minimal showing of "relevance" to an international terrorism or espionage investigation. This provision also imposes a year-long nondisclosure, or "gag" order. "Relevance" is a far cry from the Fourth Amendment's requirement of probable cause. Likewise, the "roving wiretap" provision, section 206 of the PATRIOT Act, which is also scheduled to expire on the 28th, does not comply with the Fourth Amendment. This provision makes possible "John Doe roving wiretaps," which do not require the government to name the target of the wiretap, nor to identify the specific place or facility to be monitored. This bears an uncanny resemblance to the Writs of Assistance fought against by Otis and the American colonists.
Other provisions of the PATRIOT Act previously made permanent and not scheduled to expire present even greater concerns. These include the use and abuse by the FBI of so-called National Security Letters. These secret demand letters, which allow the government to obtain financial records and other sensitive information held by Internet Service Providers, banks, credit companies, and telephone carriers-all without appropriate judicial oversight-also impose a gag order on recipients.
NSL abuse has been and likely continues to be rampant. The widely-circulated 2007 report issued by the Inspector General from the Department of Justice documents "widespread and serious misuse of the FBI's national security letter authorities. In many instances, the FBI's misuse of national security letters violated NSL statutes, Attorney General Guidelines, or the FBI's own internal policies." Another audit released in 2008 revealed similar abuses, including the fact that the FBI had issued inappropriate "blanket NSLs" that did not comply with FBI policy, and which allowed the FBI to obtain data on 3,860 telephone numbers by issuing only eleven "blanket NSLs." The 2008 audit also confirmed that the FBI increasingly used NSLs to seek information on U.S. citizens. From 2003 to 2006, almost 200,000 NSL requests were issued. In 2006 alone, almost 60% of the 49,425 requests were issued specifically for investigations of U.S. citizens or legal aliens.
In addition, First Amendment advocates should be concerned about an especially troubling aspect of the 2008 audit, which documented a situation in which the FBI applied to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to obtain a section 215 order. The Court denied the order on First Amendment grounds. Not to be deterred, the FBI simply used an NSL to obtain the same information.
A recent report released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation ("EFF") entitled, "Patterns of Misconduct: FBI Intelligence Violations from 2001-2008," documents further NSL abuse. EFF estimates that, based on the proportion of violations reported to the Intelligence Oversight Board and the FBI's own statements regarding NSL violations, the actual number of violations that may have occurred since 2001 could approach 40,000 violations of law, Executive Order, and other regulations.
Yet another troublesome (and now permanent) provision of the PATRIOT Act is the expansion of Suspicious Activity Reports. Sections 356 and 359 expanded the types of financial institutions required to file reports under the Bank Secrecy Act. The personal and account information required by the reports is turned over to the Treasury Department and the FBI. In 2000, there were only 163,184 reports filed. By 2007, this had increased to 1,250,439. Again, as with NSLs, there is a complete lack of judicial oversight for SARs.
Finally, I wish to remind my colleagues that one of the many ironies of the rush to advance the PATRIOT Act following 9/11 is the well-documented fact that FBI incompetence caused the failure to search the computer of the alleged 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui. As FBI agent Coleen Rowley stated, "the FBI headquarters supervisory special agent handling the Moussaoui case 'seemed to have been consistently almost deliberately thwarting the Minneapolis FBI agents' efforts" to meet the FISA standard for a search warrant, and therefore no request was ever made for a warrant. Why, then, was the FBI rewarded with such expansive new powers in the aftermath of this institutional failure?
In the words of former Senator Russ Feingold, the only "no" vote against the original version of the PATRIOT Act,
"[T]here is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists. But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America."
I call upon each of my Senate colleagues to seriously consider whether the time has come to re-evaluate many-if not all-provisions of the PATRIOT Act. Our oath to uphold the Constitution demands it.
Rand Paul, M.D.
United States Senator
Rand Paul is full of crap on this. Just like Daddy
Well said sir
Didn't Conservatives & George Bush want the Patriot Act to catch muslim terrorist and the Dems fought us on it.
Now, we're the bad guys for renewing it under Obamah?
I meant well said for Rand that is
Carbon copy of his pappy.
Wow. Nice bomb throwing.
I noticed you did not rebutt a single statement from this letter.
Not one mention from you about what is or is not constitutional about the Patriot Act. Just name calling.
Thanks for helping America there buddy.
I wish Rand was running for President. He understands how The Patriot Act and the Federal Reserve are more tyranny over the citizens. Rand gets it.
No, he is absolutely right. The “Patriot Act” is an abomination. We have all the law we need to deal with the Mohammedans without it; the Act is a violation of the 4th Amendment.
Congress doesn’t give “mom and apple pie” names to bills that can stand serious scrutiny. The Patriot Act is no more about patriotism than the “Bank Secrecy Act” is about bank secrecy.
I guess that support for this legislation is an area where you and Palin agree ;-)
I still haven’t heard many actual complaints of Americans’ rights being taken away by the Patriot Act even though DU still rails against it almost every day.
Did you just now discover the Patriot Act, ace? It has been discussed ad naseum here back when it was first passed, then modified and passed again.
“Rand Paul is full of crap on this. Just like Daddy”
Your pea brain isn’t able to refute one line of the arguments above. Have you ever read a single thing that the founding fathers wrote?
My pea brain looks the size of a watermelon compared to the Paultards.
Maybe this quote explains why there aren't many complaints so far. It's hard to complain if you don't know that your records were accessed.
"These secret demand letters, which allow the government to obtain financial records and other sensitive information held by Internet Service Providers, banks, credit companies, and telephone carriers-all without appropriate judicial oversight-also impose a gag order on recipients."
The real problem and central question in this country is:
Are we a country of laws (the Constitution) or men?
I guess you don’t mind that men rule as long as it’s the guys you like?
The Patriot Act, Federal Reserve, czars etc. are grossly illegal.
And yes, you are still wrong.
Getting to be a pattern for you...
What a stunning response to FTP’s posting! Surely now you have won the debate with your irrefutable logic... /sarc
Odd that Rand Paul has decide to make his stand on this issue siding with the Dims against national security rather than on criminal law aimed at ordinary criminals. I think most of people want the government to have as much power in the area of national security investigations as they do in the areas of drugs and organized crime.
Now if Rand Paul were to make his stand on such legal tools concerning organized crime and drugs, I would find it more reasonable. But that Paul wants to go back to the time with national security agencies have fewer tools than law enforcement in the organized crime and drug areas is disconcerting to me.
(U//FOUO) A movement of rightwing groups or individuals who can be broadly divided into those who are primarily hate oriented, and those who are mainly anti-government and reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.
This term also may refer to rightwing extremist movements that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.(also known as far right, extreme right)
(U) single-issue extremist groups
(U//FOUO) Groups or individuals who focus on a single issue or causesuch as animal rights, environmental or anti-abortion extremismand often employ criminal acts. Group members may be associated with more than one issue.(also: special interest extremists)
(U//FOUO) A rightwing extremist movement composed of groups or individuals who reject the notion of U.S. citizenship. They claim to follow only what they believe to be Gods law or common law and the original 10 amendments (Bill of Rights) to the U.S. Constitution. They believe they are emancipated from all other responsibilities associated with being a U.S. citizen, such as paying taxes, possessing a drivers license and motor vehicle registration, or holding a social security number.
They generally do not recognize federal or state government authority or laws. Several sovereign citizen groups in the United States produce fraudulent documents for their members in lieu of legitimate government-issued forms of identification. Members have been known to advocate or engage in criminal activity and plot acts of violence and terrorism in an attempt to advance their extremist goals. They often target government officials and law enforcement.(also: state citizens, freemen, preamble citizens, common law citizens)
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.