Safeguards in the PATRIOT Act

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…apparently include judicial invalidation of its worst components. George Bush is speaking live from New Jersey and has claimed, as he did in the debates, that the PATRIOT Act is replete with safeguards to protect civil liberties, including the requirement that a judge sign off on the searches it authorizes. Now, maybe that's not a deliberate lie, but if it's not, then Bush just doesn't know what's in the law, which is no less comforting. Because the act also expanded a form of administrative subpoena known as the "national security letter."

It is true that thanks to a recent federal district court ruling the statute PATRIOT expanded will itself shortly become defunct. But the federal government is also expected to appeal that ruling. So perhaps, like Bush's claims about cutting the deficit in half in five years, this falls under the category of "true, provided I don't actually get the policies I'm advocating."

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