16 February 2011

Against the PATRIOT Act but for it's provisions

I've been out of town for the past few days, but I read that the House passed the PATRIOT Act extensions I wrote about last week. This morning, I read that the Senate passed them as well. I didn't set out to pick on the "Tea Party", but I thought it would be interesting to look at the final vote in the House just to bring closure to my postings about the issue. Not a single member mentioned in my previous post, changed his/her vote. It turns out, it wasn't very interesting.

Most of the responses I received to my previous posts were from people in districts whose members had voted for the extension of the PATRIOT Act provisions. They told me that they were disappointed in their congressperson's vote or that their congressperson was never really a member of the Tea Party movement but simply rode the Tea Party wave of outrage into office by being less bad than the "other guy". I did receive one email, though, from a gentleman defending his congressman's "yea" vote. I found this particular email especially distressing because the signature line in the email identified the writer as the Chairman of the Tea Party in his county. I have not asked permission from the gentleman to reprint his email, but in summary, he claimed that I misrepresented what the bill was about in the house and forwarded me a note written by his congressman, Jeff Duncan (R, SC-3), and posted to Facebook. Here was my response:
I don't feel that I misrepresented it at all. The first sentence of the article reads "The House of Representatives failed to extend the PATRIOT Act provisions that I wrote about a few days ago." The words "PATRIOT Act provisions" linked to this page containing the article I wrote a few days ago which was also published on lewrockwell.com. In it, I described the three provisions at issue as well as linked from that article to the ACLU's website which contains a fuller description. Both articles linked to news stories detailing exactly what was happening, what was being voted on, and how. With all of that information, the "uninformed reader" would be willfully so.

If anything, Mr. Duncan is misrepresenting things. How can he simultaneously say that he will vote against the PATRIOT Act while voting for its provisions. As to the specific provisions, I urge you to read what the ACLU has to say about the provisions at issue and square that against Mr. Duncan's rosy picture of what the government is doing.

Mr. Duncan also says that he favors congressional oversight of the use of the provisions in the PATRIOT Act. Aside from the fact that congressional oversight is simply an opportunity for congressmembers to grandstand and almost never, if ever, results in any kind of punishment for or reform of abuses, this bill contains NO provisions for oversight of any kind.

This bill would simply have extended the provisions in question until December, period. Congress performed the same stunt -- extending the provisions -- last year in order to facilitate a fuller debate about the merits of the provisions at issue, failed to have that debate, and now wants to extend it again. Given actions like Mr. Duncan's -- saying he's against the PATRIOT Act and favors congressional oversight while voting for the PATRIOT Act without said oversight -- I see no reason to believe that the act won't simply be extended again and again until the political willpower exists to extend it permanently.
Another emailed because she was unsure exactly where I stood on the PATRIOT Act. Here was my response to her:
I think the whole thing ought to be scrapped (along with the people who wrote and voted for it).

On a related note, I thought this article on Mises Daily was really good today.

1 comment:

  1. You might want to clarify the use of the term "scrapped". I assume you mean "voted out of office or equivalently removed from a place of influence", but that's what Sarah Palin claims she meant by "targeted".


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