You probably already know about this, but
Two senators claimed on Thursday that the Justice Department had secretly interpreted the so-called Patriot Act in a twisted way, enabling domestic surveillance activities that many members of Congress do not understand.
During the debate, Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and a member of the Intelligence Committee, said that the executive branch had come up with a secret legal theory about what it could collect under a provision of the Patriot Act that did not seem to dovetail with a plain reading of the text. “I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry,” Mr. Wyden said.
Another member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, backed Mr. Wyden’s account, saying, “Americans would be alarmed if they knew how this law is being carried out.”
Notice that we have not heard any such warnings from Dianne Feinstein, chair of the intelligence committee. This fact tells us who is and is not on our side. Obama's spokesperson, interestingly enough, is not denying that the Act is being used in ways that would seem to go against a plain reading of the text.
So what is the stunning, infuriating secret? Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute thinks that Uncle is using cell phones to track locations. Law enforcement normally can do that only if they have probable cause.
Let's have a word about the Cato Institute's stance on this issue. Lambert
writes: "Strange bedfellows, and so what?"
Here's what's so what. The only Senators on the intel committee concerned about the problem are Democrats. We need a party where people like Wyden and Udall are in charge, not people like Feinstein and Obama. I think that this goal is doable. It's a hell of a lot more doable than are any of the "third party" alternatives that fill the silly hallucinations of the Corrente crowd.
Libertarians talk about criticizing both parties, but in the end, they always support the Republicans (except for those wonderful souls who actually vote for the Libertarian Party -- and may their tribe increase!).
Gore Vidal continually reminds us to pay attention to things which political actors do
. Ignore what they say
. Verbally, theoretically, Libertarians may oppose the Patriot Act. In practice, they support the politicians who support that legislation. I admit that Rand Paul acted with exemplary courage, but most of the Republicans agreed with the vile Mitch McConnell (who, incidentally, considers the Tea Partiers to be "reasonable")
We must be ruthless with Libertarians. When they enter the room, the topic must always be economics, economics, economics
. Are you or are you not in favor of more deregulation for finance capitalists? If the answer is "more deregulation, please," then you are the Devil and must be treated as such.
No compromise. No forgiveness. I will not be distracted by your claimed stances on things like the Patriot Act, the Iraq war, pot smoking or any of the rest of it. You are the Devil and that is that
.Back to the Patriot Act:
The conservatives are bending history into weird, pretzel-like shapes to convince us all that it was created by liberals. As I've said before, I saw no evidence of conservative resistance to the Patriot Act when it was first debated. In fact, I saw liberal opponents of the Act routinely derided as traitors.
I don't think that I've ever seen a single expression of support for the Act on (say) Democratic Underground. Can the Freepers say the same of their own forum?
Here is a representative usenet posting from May 1, 2002; the author called himself "Liberals HATE America":
Unlike liberals I do not have contempt for and shudder at the sound of the word "patriot." I find nothing wrong with loving my country and realizing that with all it's problems it's still the greatest country in the history of the world.
It doesn't even phase me. Sorry. If I see some actual evidence of American citizens actually losing rights, I'll complain loudly and bitterly.
By the way, here's another usenet message, written in May, 2002. Very appropriate...
And where were you and the Libertarians when the Patriot Act was passed? You claim to support the Constitution, but we only hear from you when any danger of actually supporting it is long past.
Although much of the internet is stored somewhere or other, we do not have easy access to the commentary and debate of previous years. As a result, people "remember" those debates incorrectly. We now have conservatives who cannot recall a time when liberals were called traitors for opposing the Patriot Act. And we have liberals who cannot recall the innumerable occasions when Obama's left-wing opponents were "racist-baited" or threatened.
I'll say it again: History is not Calvinball. You can't make up the rules as you go along.