Permanentizing the Patriot Act


The Wash Times reports on the House's vote "last night to make most provisions of the USA Patriot Act permanent." Story here.

The Times' print edition (but not on its Web site), contains a useful graphic of the act's most "contentious sections." The table lists four sections of the act and the number of times they have been used (based on ACLU and Justice Dept. documents):

Section 206, which sanctions roving wiretaps and has been used 49 times as of April;

Section 213, which allows law enforcement to do a search and notify the target after the fact and has been used 155 times as of January. The Times notes that 90 percent of the cases didn't involved terrorism-related issues, that the average delay in notifying targets was between 30 to 90 days, and that in six of the cases notification has been withheld indefinitely.

Section 215, which allows law enforcement to get records about someone from a third such as a bank or library and bars the actual target from ever knowing the search took place. This has been used 35 times as of April (though never for library records so far).

Section 505, which expands the use of National Security Letters, which allow the FBI to get records without judicial approval if the feds assert the info is "relevant" to an intelligence investigation. DOJ says they've done this but refused to discuss the matter.

Check out Reason's interview with Fox News Channel's resident civil liberties bulldog, Judge Andrew Napolitano, for more info, feedback, and acid-reflux. It's online here.

NEXT: Pain in the Grass

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The only consolation I feel regarding this major approval of civil liberty trashing, is that one day there will be a Democratic in the executive office again, who will take and do with the Patriot Act exactly what the Clintons did with the FBI files of the Republicans back in '93.

    Then, I'll just laugh my ass off at the first GOP politician I see and say, "Bet yer sorry about extending dat, ain'cha?"

    The Statist Two-party Tennis Match will continue ...

    by Frank J. at

    * The "patriot" in The Patriot Act is actually an acronym for "Phat Acronym That Really Is Orwellian, Though".

    * There are many clauses in The Patriot Act that concerns people, but all agree the scariest part of is its suspicious name.

    * The Patriot Act was passed 99-1 in the Senate soon after 9/11, with the onc Senator voting against it being labeled an enemy combatant and indefinitely imprisoned as ordered by The Patriot Act.

    * The Patriot Act is out there for anyone to read, but, according to The Patriot Act, that is considered a suspicious activity and makes you a person of interest.

    * The Patriot Act allows the FBI to look at library records. This power has yet to be used, though, since pretty much no one uses a library anymore.

    * The FBI wanted The Patriot Act to allow them to look at Google searches, but Google protested saying they only work in compliance with Communist countries to oppress people.

    * Many people have raised objections to The Patriot Act - some of whom have even read it. According to The Patriot Act, these people are enemy combatants, and you must shoot them on site or be considered an enemy of the state yourself.

    * The Patriot Act gives great new surveillance technology to the FBI, allowing them to spy on you through what looks like a period at the end of this sentence.

    * Stop staring at that period!

    * Yeah, they still need to use an exclamation point for audio.

    * The Patriot Act allows more wire-tapping ability for law enforcement, something that's been denounced by numerous people so boring that you couldn't pay people to spy on them.

    * The provisions of The Patriot Act has helped law enforcement capture numerous terrorists and, through a mix-up, one terrier.

    * President Bush is currently urging Congress to renew The Patriot Act. This doesn't mean he supports it, though, as, according to The Patriot Act, the President must urge its renewal or be considered an enemy combatant.

    * No one is sure who actually wrote The Patriot Act. Some say it was Satan himself, but that seems unlikely due to his own bad experience with indefinite detention.

    * Other suspected authors of The Patriot Act: Karl Rove and humor columnist Dave Barry.

    * If ever attacked by The Patriot Act, imprison yourself indefinitely to steal its thunder.

    * While The Patriot Act is immune to most attacks, it is scared of fire.

    * In a fight between Aquaman and The Patriot Act, Aquaman would be locked up indefinitely and then be forgotten. After years of solitary confinement, he'd begin to believe he has the power to talk to cockroaches... which is just crazy!

    * Some judges have ruled against clauses in The Patriot Act. They were all mysterious killed as dictated by the Patriot Act.

    * I guess the deaths aren't so mysterious since they were ordered by The Patriot Act, but The Patriot Act says you need to act like they were mysterious or you will be considered an enemy combatant.

    * According to The Patriot Act, the fact that you consider The Patriot Act an enemy and want to find information about makes you an enemy combatant. In compliance with The Patriot Act, I have now sent your IP address to the FBI. Thanks for participating in this IMAO sting operation, and may your indefinite detention be a pleasant one.

  3. I think I understand the premise: By taking away all of our freedoms, the terrorists won't have anything left to hate. Brilliant!

  4. "Permanentizing"

    Can you, like, not use that verb again?

  5. Verbing weirds language.

  6. Becoming increasingly cynical, I'd like to bring up two points...first, can we really trust that our lawmakers actually read the damned thing this time around? Second, the only evidence we have that the government isn't abusing their new powers is, well, the government's word. We know the government would never lie to us. They wouldn't even support a "noble lie", right? Face it, this is joe's world, we're just living in it.

  7. Come on now, Johnny. You really don't think joe would support this stuff, do you? I see him as a liberal on financial matters (which is mostly where we disagree), but on legal and social matters I think he's on the same page as most of us here.

    Let the record show this is the second time I've come to joe's defense. It may not be the last.

  8. SPD,
    After his comments in the subway search thread, I think he agrees with more of it than he would like to admit, both to us and ourselves.

  9. Roving wiretaps are dangerous. There should be strict limits in place on their use, with judges making mandatory findings before issuing warrants, and no "national security" exceptions to providing the judge with evidence to back up the governments' assertions.

    Sneak searches may be necessary for intelligence work, but nothing so gathered should be admissible in a court of law.

    A judge should issue a warrant or subpoena to authorize the mandatory disclosure of records. None of this "administrative subpoena" bullshit. Information so gathered, and information further gathered based on that information, should be considered "fruit of the poinsoned tree."

  10. You got me, Mo. I'm really a Trostskyite; which is to say, a Nazi sympathizer.

    Heretic! Heretic! You want to put puppies in blenders!

  11. joe,

    You ought to realize that the "fruit of the poisoned tree" concept is nearly dead in the federal courts. Some state courts - like California's - still take it seriously though.

  12. Well, I was writing about what should be, not what is.

  13. I never said you were a Trotskyite, but you seem quite willing to sacrifice freedom for security.

  14. joe,
    For someone that rails on libertarians for being utopians that are detatched for reality, you are also ignoring the reality of the situation. I'm sure the provisions in the PATRIOT Act would garner more support in these parts if they were limited to terrorism and only terrorism. However, you, I, Julian, and everyone else knows that neither that PATRIOT Act nor the subway searches will be limited to terrorism (heck, they won't even be primarily used against it).

  15. Mo,

    Your statements are borne out by the use of USA PATRIOT Act provisions to go after Michael Gilardi here in Las Vegas for buying influence with the county commission. I.e., it's already been used for non-terrorism related crimes.

  16. Shawn,
    That's not the only example. H&R has posted at least a half dozen instances where it was used on a bunch of silly crimes as well as the WoD

  17. joe,

    Well, what should be isn't at issue.


    Well, as PATRIOT is merely an extension of FISA (1978) it shouldn't be surprising that it is applied to non-terrorist related issues.

  18. Actually, Haklyut, Mo made a statement about what I "would like," so I addressed that.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.