PATRIOT Act: Heritage v. Cato

Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute and Jena Baker McNeill of the Heritage Foundation recently contributed a point/counterpoint on the USA PATRIOT Act for the Los Angeles Times.

McNeill writes:

The Patriot Act has helped law enforcement officials apprehend hundreds of suspects, and it isn’t just one provision of the act that has proved useful. For instance, the surveillance provision was used successfully in the Portland Seven investigation, which may well have prevented an attack on synagogues and Jewish schools. And while new information is still coming to light about the three recent alleged plots, it is very likely that Patriot Act provisions played major roles stopping at least one of the plans.

Perhaps to the shock of some, the Obama administration has been cool to the idea of repealing the Patriot Act. It may even support keeping key provisions intact. The likely cause of this support: The law works. It’s tough to argue with results, especially when American lives are at stake.

There are many misconceptions about what the act actually does. Simply put, it modernizes existing law enforcement tools and practices that existed before the act was passed in 2001. It makes it more difficult for terrorists to stay a step ahead of the law by switching cellphone or e-mail accounts. Its provisions free investigators to stop plots in their earliest stages, decreasing the likelihood that a plan would mature and become unstoppable. It also outlines methods for handling intelligence and investigations in areas the law did not adequately provide for, such as in cyberspace and cellphone communications.

Sanchez responds:

Judget Napolitano explains natural rights

Judge Andrew Napolitano, host of Freedom Watch, explains natural rights and why the USA PATRIOT Act violates our natural right to privacy (video is in three parts):

Fox on PATRIOT Act

See Video

Obama Administration backing PATRIOT Act extention

The Obama Administration is backing an extention of expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act:

The Obama administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter made public Tuesday.

Lawmakers and civil rights groups had been pressing the Democratic administration to say whether it wants to preserve the post-Sept. 11 law’s authority to access business records, as well as monitor so-called “lone wolf” terrorists and conduct roving wiretaps.

The provision on business records was long criticized by rights groups as giving the government access to citizens’ library records, and a coalition of liberal and conservative groups complained that the Patriot Act gives the government too much authority to snoop into Americans’ private lives.

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama said he would take a close look at the law, based on his past expertise in constitutional law. Back in May, President Obama said legal institutions must be updated to deal with the threat of terrorism, but in a way that preserves the rule of law and accountability.

As the folks at* note that none of the provisions that the administration wants extended require a warrant or even probable cause, which clearly violates the Fourth Amendment.

PATRIOT Act Abuse Isn’t New

Upon reading about the teenage kid stripped of due process because of the PATRIOT Act, talk show host Jeff Scott writes, “This is the first time I’ve heard of it being abused.” Not to pick on Jeff, but this isn’t the first time abuse has been reported.

In 2007, FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted to abuses of the PATRIOT Act. In fact, there were more than 1,000 instances of the FBI misusing the law, according to the Washington Post (emphasis mine):

Obama: Time’s Man Of The Year

I think Time Magazine is a little pre-emptive in picking Obama as the person of the year.  He hasn’t done anything yet.  The criteria is as follows:

“The Person of the Year” is the person who most affected the news for better or worse.”  They say the selection generates much debate among Time staffers but they all agree that the award is “not an honor.”

“It’s neutral,” said Richard Stengel, TIME’s Managing Editor.  “It is a recognition of somebody’s affect on the world.”

I guess I’m looking for more substance than the rhetoric of “Hope and Change” which is all we currently have.  I’d start by looking at Wikipedia’s 2008 for an alternative.  I’m all for Obama being Time’s person of the year after he’s achieved something.


Talk Like a Terrorist: Use Skype

  • Don’t like the Patriot Act?
  • Want to make sure no one eavesdrops on your personal calls?
  • Want Your IM’s to be untraceable?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, Skype (the makers of KaZaA) is for you.

In The Runoff For Georgia’s US Senate Seat…

I am proud to have voted for Allen Buckley on election day, and I am trying to decide whether to abstain, write in Mickey Mouse, or vote for Jim Martin.  I DO KNOW that I am extremely tired of Georgia Republicans that assume a Libertarian will jump into the Republican fold when our candidate does not win.  I have been engaged by numerous Republicans, many of them getting very upset, discussing my positions in the upcoming run-off.  To date, no one has been able to provide a single logical argument FOR Saxby Chambliss, other than using fear-mongering tactics to suppose the positions that Jim Martin would take or would have taken, should he have been in Saxby’s position already.

Passing the Baton…

… Barr or Baldwin? Marc Gallagher, at LibertyMaven, gives a convincing argument as to why Bob Barr is the obvious choice to continue the movement inspired by Dr. Paul’s campaign.

Ignoring media attention and the potential for more media attention for now let’s look at hard numbers where we can. The hard numbers we will look at are fund raising and meetup group support via


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