Friday, July 22, 2005

Reminder of a Dying Bill of Rights

Via Billmon - Societas reminds us not to ignore the fact that the 4th Amendment to the Constitution is currently being buried by the House and Senate while we wring our hands over KKKarl and "The Distraction".
Congress will vote to renew and possibly expand PATRIOT today, tomorrow or early next week. This will all be over long before Roberts has a hearing, before Fitzgerald finishes his investigation.

If Congress renews or expands Section 215, as they seem intent on doing, you can kiss the 4th Amendment good-bye . . . What two World Wars and a Civil War could not accomplish, al-Qaeda and the cowardly leadership of George Bush will. (emphasis added)

While it is probably too late to do anything about it... I'll just remind you what Section 215 allows the government power to do:
* Order any person or entity to turn over "any tangible things," so long as the FBI specifies that the order is part of an authorized terrorism or intelligence investigation.

* Obtain personal data, including medical records, without any specific facts connecting those records to a foreign terrorist.

* Prohibit doctors and insurance companies from disclosing to their patients that their medical records have been seized by the government.

* Obtain library and book store records, including lists of books checked out, without any specific facts connecting the records to a foreign agent or terrorist.

* Obtain private financial records without a court order, and without notification to the person involved.

* Conduct intelligence investigations of both United States citizens and permanent residents without probable cause, or even reasonable grounds to believe that they are engaged in criminal activity or are agents of a foreign power.

* Investigate U.S. citizens based in part on their exercise of their First Amendment rights, and non-citizens based solely on their exercise of those rights. (Naturally, decisions about what constitutes "in part" are left to a secret court, meeting secretly.)

* Those served with Section 215 orders are prohibited from disclosing that fact to anyone -- even their attorney. (This provision was struck down by a U.S. district court last year.)

Section 213 of The PATRIOT Act allows federal agents to:

* Conduct secret “sneak and peek” searches of your home.

* Enter your home or office and seize items for an indefinite period of time, without informing you that a warrant has been issued.

And finally Section 216 lets the feds:

* Seize records that could show the subject lines of your e-mails and the details pf your Web surfing habits.

Ain't we got Fun?

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