Tree of Liberty thirsts as Patriot Act moves toward another renewal

By Rady Ananda

Senator Harry Reid blocked efforts to reform the Patriot Act today by leading the effort to table any amendments. Even Colorado Senator Mark Udall who “joined with a small bipartisan band of colleagues to slow the move on Capitol Hill to quickly reauthorize the Patriot Act and extend its most controversial provisions for another four years,” said the Unconstitutional Act “has kept us safe for ten years,” reports the Colorado Independent.

What hogwash. The Patriot Act makes us less safe by exposing citizens to government abuse without recourse. Here’s how the alternative media has responded.

Susan Lindauer recently highlighted just how repressive the Patriot Act can be. In When Truth Becomes Treason, she calls it “a law that equates free speech with sedition.” She ought to know. She spent a year in prison under the Act.

“It’s got a big agenda, with 7,000 pages of Machiavellian code designed to interrupt individual questioning of government policy. In this brave new world, free speech under the Bill of Rights effectively has been declared a threat to government controls for maintaining stability. And the Patriot Act has become the premiere weapon to attack whistle blowers and dissidents who challenge the comfort of political leaders hiding inconvenient truths from the public.”

The vast majority of the Senate – 74 of them – violated their oath to uphold the US Constitution by voting to block debate on the Act, which would have allowed some of the more egregious provisions to be excised. Eighteen Senators couldn’t even be bothered to show up, and eight opposed blocking debate, reports the Washington Post which still brings out the Al Qaeda scarecrow.

Joined by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Udall said at a press conference, “As members of the Intelligence Committee, we know these are dangerous times.”

Right. The most dangerous force we face is a criminal federal government covering up the crimes of the past government while proceeding with illegal wars of aggression, torture, star chambers, and spying on citizens.

In 10 Indications the United States Is a Dictatorship, Activist Post agrees. “The increase in executive power under the aegis of National Security is our greatest threat…. Rather than encourage a sense of resilience and independence in its citizens, America has chosen to amplify the terror threat in order to concentrate power in the hands of the State.”

Lindauer points out, “The Patriot Act reaches far beyond terrorism prevention. In my home state of Maryland, State Police invoked the Patriot Act to run surveillance on the Chesapeake Climate Action Network dedicated to wind power, recycling and protection of the Chesapeake Bay. They infiltrated the DC Anti War Network, suggesting the group might be a front for ‘white supremacists,’ and Amnesty International, claiming to investigate ‘civil rights abuses.’ Opponents of the death penalty also got targeted (in case they got violent).”

Tom Burghardt at Global Research also had a scathing criticism of President Obama, Congress, and the Act, pointing out that “While Barack Obama promised to curtail the worst abuses of the previous administration when he assumed office in January 2009, the Justice Department reported there has been a huge increase in domestic spying during the first two years of his administration.”

Citing a 2008 report, he notes that the Office of the Inspector General “demonstrated conclusively that widespread abuses by the FBI in their issuance of constitution-shredding National Security Letters, handed out without probable cause and attached with built-in secret gag orders, have been used by the Bureau to target innocent Americans.”

He details many more instances of government abuse reported by Antifascist Calling, McClatchy Newspapers, Salon, and others. Glenn Greenwald’s comments are particularly poignant:

“This is what the Surveillance State, at its core, is designed to achieve — the destruction of privacy for individual citizens and an impenetrable wall of secrecy for those with unlimited surveillance power.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says the Act “represents one of the most significant threats to civil liberties, privacy and democratic traditions in U.S. history.” In its tweet about blocking debate today, EFF called the rush to renew the Act “shameful.”

The Hill added that “lawmakers will have to scramble to get the extension signed into law by Thursday because President Obama is in Europe. Officials will have to fly a copy of the Patriot Act extension overseas if they are to prevent it a range of law-enforcement powers from expiring.”

Woo hoo! Unconstitutional police powers expire? Hell, yes – that’s what we want. But it’s not likely under tyranny.

Alex Thomas at The Intel Hub noted, “This extension has once again been rammed down the America people’s throats without so much as a committee debate. The Patriot Act, a bill that was promised to never be used against the American people, has been used countless times against innocent civilians,” mentioning Lindauer.

Burghardt sarcastically asks “Why not forego a vote altogether? After all, with the White House skipping a legal deadline to seek congressional authorization of the military action in Libya under the War Powers Act, few on the Hill are objecting.”

He goes further. “Why not extend congressional courtesy to the White House over demands that their illegal spying on Americans continue indefinitely as long as consultations with Congress continue?”

Another Ron Paul form member observed, “The tree of liberty is starting to look a little thirsty.”

Time to take the vorpal sword in hand and slay the jabberwocky.