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Part Of The Patriot Act Shot Down 618

Posted by timothy
from the checks-and-balances dept.
jtwJGuevara writes "In a victory today for the ACLU, (and many Slashdotters I presume) the section of the Patriot Act which gives power to the FBI to demand confidential financial records from companies as part of terrorist investigations has been ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Judge. Victor Marreo, the District Judge who made this ruling, states that the provision of the Patriot Act in question 'effectively bars or substantially deters any judicial challenge.'"
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Part Of The Patriot Act Shot Down

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  • by urdine (775754) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:41PM (#10387629)
    Sounds like a defense of CORPORATIONS rights, which are more and more behind the scenes, creating laws and running the country. We have separation of church and state - we need separation of business and state as well.
    • Yes, I think it is defending your rights - this prevents the government from asking for customer records without a court order.

      What does this do the section 314(a) searches that we must do?

    • by qbzzt (11136) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:46PM (#10387701)
      Sounds like a defense of CORPORATIONS rights,

      Do you want the government to be able to find out you paid $20 to paladin-press.com for that bomb making book, donated $180 to the EFF, and then spent $120 in a house of ill repute in Las Vegas? If so, then keeping financial records confidential is not an issue for you.

      But if you want your private affairs private then you want your financial affairs private as well.

      • by dan_sdot (721837) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:16PM (#10388040)
        I think that you are missing the point.
        Anyone who thinks that we are today living in the world of 1984 is dillusional. Micheal Moore can put out a movie tearing into the President, and Rush Limbaugh can tear into powerful govenment officials on his show, and its ok.
        The reason to stop things like this act now would be to prevent a slippery slope that could lead to a 1984-like world. But we are nowhere near that right now.
        There are way to many people that talk as if they are in fear of being hunted down by Ashcroft and thrown into a dungeon in Washington. I guess its fun to fantasize that you are Patrick Henry or something, but get real.
        We have historically unprecedented freedoms in America (even with the PATRIOT act now). Striking down this act would simply ensure that (PATRIOT act ^ 10) is not legislated so we still have these rights in 50 years.
        • by j-turkey (187775) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @06:11PM (#10388704) Homepage
          The reason to stop things like this act now would be to prevent a slippery slope that could lead to a 1984-like world. But we are nowhere near that right now.

          An excellent comment. Just to add to your point, we could be very close to a 1984-like world and we just don't know about it. This is siding on paranoia I know, but (before this judgement) with reduced judicial oversight, what is to stop the executive branch (or DoD) from making mass secret arrests and refusing Habeus Corpus?

          I hate sounding so alarmist, and I am agreeing with you, but the folks who are outraged are mostly trying to make a point -- and I think that there is a pretty good reason for the outrage. Civil liberties take lifetimes to fight for, and seconds to lose. Judging from all of the freedom rhetoric, shouldn't we expect the federal government to at least pretend that they're defending our civil liberties? (Damn, that sounds naively idealistic)

        • by einhverfr (238914) <chris@travers.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @06:22PM (#10388794) Homepage Journal
          I will tell you what scares me, and it is not arbitrary imprisonment (I figure that is so unconstitutional that they won't dare do that one again without at a minimum Congressional authorization or better yet a full suspension of Habeus but if that happens, we might as well leave the country).

          What scares me is the fact that the Bush administration is putting mechanisms in place which can be used to arbitrarily make your life miserable for whatever reasons the executive sees fit. These include no-fly lists, among other things. It scares me that these mechanisms could be used in ways which could effectively silence certain forms of political discourse.

          I am not afraid that I might become the next Jose Padilla. I am afraid that I might become punished for talking about airport security, etc. and that I might be forbidden to fly or have other arbitrary sanctions put on my activities which may be difficult to challenge in court.
    • good idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by apachetoolbox (456499)
      We have separation of church and state - we need separation of business and state as well.

      ... Now thats a good idea! We can call it Citizen Protection Act.

      While we're at lets make a law that puts some accountability on those that write laws later found to be unconstitutional.

      ... i'm dreaming...
      • Re:good idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TykeClone (668449)
        term limits and a lifetime ban on being a lobbyist for all people who have served - make them go back into the populace and actually live and work under the laws that they have passed.

        In all seriousness, I'm sure that most everyone in Congress thinks that they're in it (at some level) to help their fellow citizens, but laws (and the accumulated federal code) are just about overwhelming, and have unintended consequences.

        • Re:good idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:12PM (#10387998)
          laws (and the accumulated federal code) are just about overwhelming, and have unintended consequences.

          I believe this indicates a systemic problem - like the grotesque growth of spaghetti code in a legacy application. ("We don't know how the insides work anymore, so we'll keep building wrappers around everything to try and keep it from getting out of control.")

          About the only thing I think the founders forgot when they tried to build a system of checks & balances was some kind of automatic expiration process for laws that aren't "maintained" anymore. There should've been some kind of mechanism that would force the legislators to keep reviewing existing laws, and to let them expire if the legislators didn't think it was worth keeping them around. If such a mechanism were required, I bet legislators would be a lot more focused on keeping the legal code "maintainable".

          • Re:good idea! (Score:3, Informative)

            by gcaseye6677 (694805)
            Not a bad idea, as it would certainly get rid of some of the old crazy laws that nobody has gotten around to removing. But I would hate to think of what would happen if there were some mistake and the laws against murder fell through the cracks and expired.
            • Re:good idea! (Score:4, Informative)

              by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @06:33PM (#10388894) Journal
              The term you're looking for is "sunset provision". A lot of laws have one. Of course, IMHO, there should be a constitutional amendment that mandates that -all- federal laws have one, but maybe that's just me.

              As for laws against murder, one could reasonably design that amendment in such a way that makes an exemption for certain explicitly-listed laws. Such an amendment should also prescribe a set time frame in whcih all laws must be updated to include a sunset provision and should limit the maximum duration of that period to no more than... say ten years. This would forcibly reduce the number of federal laws significantly, which would be a very good thing. 90% of laws amount to "this other law is hereby altered such that it doesn't apply in cases of foo". Those laws should not exist. They should be part of an amended form of the original law. That's a big part of why our legal system is such an utter mess....

      • Re:good idea! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by einhverfr (238914)
        Congressmen sponsoring "blatently unconstitutional" legislation, i.e. legislation unconstitional by any reasonable reading of the Constitution should be required to pay the court costs of the challenge, IMO. Would prevent things like the Pledge Protection Act (which is probably dead anyway)...
    • Question. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by celeritas_2 (750289)
      Cannot the court subpoena the same records only with more time and difficulty involved?
      • Re:Question. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Atzanteol (99067) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:59PM (#10387853) Homepage
        Yes. The difference (I believe) being that they will now need to convince a judge that they need to, and can be held accountable. No "fishing" in other words.
        • Re:Question. (Score:3, Informative)

          by Fareq (688769)

          Precisely

          What it comes down to is this: after 9/11 the government realized that if it waited for people to do something wrong before neutralizing them, it'd be too late.

          Simple solution! Give the government sweeping powers to secretly spy on people, and eliminate those that look threatening...

          Alas, but that does give the terrorists precisely what they want -- a complete desctruction of our free society.

          Fortunately, a judge somewhere saw that and chose to act in a small way to prevent that.

          Now,

  • by lothar97 (768215) * <owen@smi g e l ski.org> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:41PM (#10387635) Homepage Journal
    The judge agreed, stating that the provision "effectively bars or substantially deters any judicial challenge."

    Under the provision, the FBI did not have to show a judge a compelling need for the records and it did not have to specify any process that would allow a recipient to fight the demand for confidential information.

    Checks and balances is overrated anyway. I mean, those Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution several hundred years ago when there were no terrorists. Oh wait, didn't they act like terrorists against the British...?

    • Oh wait, didn't they act like terrorists against the British...?

      Yes, they did. They attempted to strike civilian targets and were ready to kill up to 30,000 people that worked in two enormous buildings. They also would have set off nuclear bombs to destroy all inhabitants of a city if they could get their hands on one. Yes, they were definitely exactly like Osama.
      I think you might have meant to say that they used guerrilla warfare, which is true. But its a little different than "terrorism"...

      • by prowley (587280) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:22PM (#10388122)
        They also would have set off nuclear bombs to destroy all inhabitants of a city if they could get their hands on one. Yes, they were definitely exactly like Osama.
        Yes, and we all know that no upstanding non-terrorist country would ever target civilians like that. The thought that any country in the world would consider blowing up a whole city (or two) with a weapon of mass destructuion is frankly ludicrous.
    • Oh wait, didn't they act like terrorists against the British...?

      Uh, no. The Founding Fathers' M.O. did not include targeting civilians with intent to kill, holding whole theaters full of movie-goers or schools full of children for ransom and slaughter... unless you're going to define terrorism as the use of military force against agents of the ruling governemnt to influence the political direction of a country.

      But that would mean you'd have to call Iraqi terrorist groups "terrorists" instead of "militant
      • by lothar97 (768215) * <owen@smi g e l ski.org> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:13PM (#10388011) Homepage Journal
        terrorism n

        The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

        Source [reference.com]

        You'll note that there is no distinction between governments or civilians. One could argue that a rebellion (and yes, the Founding Fathers were British citizens at the time) is a form of terrorism, as is destruction of property like the Boston Tea Party and other attacks on forts & munitions before the Revolution was official.

  • Supreme Court (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:42PM (#10387643)
    I'd be willing to be that this one will see the Supreme Court. Hopefully they'll not overturn this extrordinarily wise decision.

    I moderate Mr. Marreo +1 : Liberty.
  • by cOdEgUru (181536) * <cherian@abraham.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:42PM (#10387646) Homepage Journal
    Its an uphill battle against bureaucracy, against the thirst for more power and its fought by decent civil libertarians amidst others who are running the risk of being labeled as unpatriotic girly men by Fox news and the Republican party.

    ACLU has been moderately successful in chipping away provisions of the Patriot Act, desperately trying to limit its broad sweeping powers acquired during the aftermath of Sept 11, when the notion of security drew a shadowy veil over our eyes and across measures of oversight and provided us with the promise of a secure land but taking away our freedom in its place. The people behind it were clever enough to threaten us with more attacks and a terrible outcome if these measures were not passed, but put nothing in place to provide oversight, nothing in place to limit its ever stretching arm, reaching out to our private lives.

    Now, the Republican party is getting ready with "Patriot Act II" in response to the findings of the Sept 11 commission, but in stark contrast to what's required, has granted far greater power and reach to the security agencies while dramatically eroding constitutional protections and providing a fraction of added security.

    Republicans now more than ever seem to be under the belief that they could throw any dissenting american in to prison and blow up anyone voicing their dissent outside the US and are on a collission course with the stark reality that while we may never die from a terrorist attack, we will surely feel the ever tightening grip of a police state.
    • Please remind me. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:47PM (#10387715) Journal
      Please remind me of all the Dems that voted against the patriot act.

      Thanks in advance.
      • Re:Please remind me. (Score:3, Informative)

        by CyberZen (97536)
        Russ Feingold, from Wisconsin. He was the only Senator who voted against it, anyway (not sure about the House).
      • Russ Feingold. Wisconsin. The only one with enough balls in the whole Senate to vote against that hurtling turd.
      • Voting records (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:08PM (#10387959)
        In the house that would be:

        Baldwin, Barrett, Blumenauer, Bonior, Boucher, Brown (OH),Capuano, Clayton, Conyers, Coyne, Cummings, Davis (IL), DeFazio, DeGette, Dingell, Farr, Filner, Frank, Hastings (FL), Hilliard, Honda, Jackson (IL), Jackson-Lee (TX), Johnson, E. B., Jones (OH), Kucinich, Lee, Lewis (GA), McDermott, McGovern, McKinney, Meek (FL), Miller, George, Mink, Mollohan, Nadler, Ney, Oberstar, Olver, Otter, Owens, Pastor, Paul, Payne, Peterson (MN), Rahall, Rivers, Rush, Sabo, Sanchez, Sanders, Schakowsky, Scott, Serrano, Stark, Thompson (MS), Tierney, Udall (CO), Udall (NM), Velazquez, Visclosky, Waters, Watson (CA), Watt (NC), Woolsey, and Wu

        and in the Senate: Feingold

        http://clerk.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.asp?year=200 1& rollnumber=398

        http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_ li sts/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=107&session=1& vote=00313
      • Re:Please remind me. (Score:4, Informative)

        by peacefinder (469349) * <alan...dewitt@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:28PM (#10388189) Journal
        Please remind me of all the Dems that voted against the patriot act.

        See the House roll call vote here. [house.gov] Sixty-two Dems voted against it, as did one independent and three Republicans. Nine representatives did not vote; five GOP and 4 Dems.

        Ninety-six Senators [senate.gov] voted for it. Feingold (D-Wis) was the lone dissenter. Domenici, Helms, and Thurmond (GOP) did not vote. Note also that the three previous roll call votes were on motions tabling amendments that Feingold had offered to soften the UPA.

        About 29% of Democrats in the House voted against it, while about 1% of the Republicans did the same. But when it comes to the UPA, there's plenty of blame to spread around. (Including my own rep, alas. It's a pity the guy running against her is scarier still.)
    • This comment was just a nice partisan rant until it nose-dived into troll land with that last paragraph. I don't have any clue how it was moderated insightful.
    • Republicans? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by paranode (671698)
      Republicans now more than ever seem to be under the belief that they could throw any dissenting american in to prison and blow up anyone voicing their dissent outside the US and are on a collission course with the stark reality that while we may never die from a terrorist attack, we will surely feel the ever tightening grip of a police state.

      You had something going there until this last bit of dribble.

      I hardly think you can blame Republicans when 98 senators [senate.gov] and 337 Representatives [house.gov] voted for the bil
    • by cOdEgUru (181536) *
      Well the parent post was not intended to be trolling, but it has been deemed such. I can only complain.

      Yes, it is the neoconservatives who initially steered the Republican party so far to the right that questioning their direction or leadership was unpatriotic. But Republican party on a whole is clueless if they dont wake up and realize where they will end up in the near future. The party is so tunnel minded that they cant see beyond George Bush, heck, GW cant see beyond GW. Thats the folly. This country i
  • Who wrote this part? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:42PM (#10387647)
    I know that Kerry wrote some of the "financial crime" [reason.com] parts of the Patriot Act. I wonder if this was his? Does anyone know?
  • Missed something... (Score:5, Informative)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:44PM (#10387668)
    It should be pointed out that the FBI can still demand confidential financial records without this provision of the "Patriot" Act. Basically, without this provision the FBI just needs to provide a reason WHY to a judge to get similar access to the same records. (Previously, it was all hush-hush.)

    • They didn't even need the patriot act to do that - with a court order, they can get all the financial records that they need - and that's always been the case.
      • by bckrispi (725257) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:55PM (#10388557)
        That's the whole point. When a cop gets a court order or a warrant you have judicial oversight, as well as a publicly available paper trail. Allow unwarranted (and secret) searches and siezures like the PA did, and not only are you removing a crucial check & balance, but you are effectively pissing on the Constitution.
  • by stinkfoot (21610) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:44PM (#10387677) Homepage

    ACLU's site is getting hammered; the decision has also been posted on EFF's site:

    http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/Terrorism/ PATRIOT/20040929_NSL_Decision.pdf [eff.org]

    (EFF's press release is here [eff.org].)

    • New York - The American Civil Liberties Union won a tremendous victory for Internet privacy today in the case of ACLU & Doe v. Ashcroft, challenging the constitutionality of "National Security Letters" (NSLs) under the USA PATRIOT Act. The letters, issued directly by the Department of Justice without any court oversight, can be used to demand sensitive financial and communications information about citizens even if they are not suspected of any crime. When Internet Service Providers receive such demands

  • Ohmygod! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig@hogger.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:45PM (#10387682) Homepage Journal
    "The terrorists have won", Ashcroft will croon...
  • Holy cow (Score:5, Funny)

    by LucidBeast (601749) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:47PM (#10387717)
    darn activist judges, the laws name has word Patriot in it! Doesn't that in itself make it immune to judicial review? I mean it not like it's name is communist act or something.
    • Re:Holy cow (Score:5, Funny)

      by ari_j (90255) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:01PM (#10387870)
      No, but calling it the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act is the problem. It's unconstitutional to use contrived acronyms more than 6 letters in length. (US Const., Amendment 73)
      • Re:Holy cow (Score:4, Funny)

        by MonkeyCookie (657433) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:26PM (#10388163)
        Amendment 73? I've heard those secret laws that they've been passing since 2001, where they can't tell you what the law says, but they can arrest you for violating it. There apparently are secret amendments too.

        Apparently, you've stumbled across the secret constitution with the 100 Patriot-Flag-Waving-Nationalism-Anti-Terrorism-Jin goism amendments that the Department of Justice keeps stashed away somewhere.

        Unfortunately, you failed to read the 100th amendment, which states that you aren't allow to reveal any of these amendments anywhere. Of course, I'm not allowed to reveal that amendment either.

        Well, it looks like we will soon both be charged with something very vague and terrorism-related, and sent off to Guantanamo. Flee the country while you can, citizen.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:54PM (#10387791) Homepage Journal
    I think that George Tennet gave the most damning testimony against the PATRIOT Act during the 9/11 commission, and he didn't even realize it. In his closing arguments, he said that the US knew everything it needed to know to stop the 9/11 attacks, but everyone held a different piece of the puzzle but didn't want to share that piece with anyone else. The government doesn't need any more power to stop terrorism, they just need to get rid of the bureacracy, which is why this new intelligence office is total BS: they are trying to fight the problem of too much bureacracy with.....MORE bureacracy(yeah, I can't spell). Unfortunately both major political candidates think this the real way to reform intelligence......
    • Bitch all you want about DHS, but one of the things they do (are working on) is to make the gov't work more like a buisness, in the sharing of information for a common goal sense. They still make me laugh with the color coding, etc, but one of the underhearlded pluses of DHS. Now ill put my TFH back on and worry about the spy satalites that i just know are up there. Thanks, mlb
  • by psychopracter (613530) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:59PM (#10387848) Homepage

    I work in an academic library that's also a federal depository. I've had to deal first hand with the implications of this POS raping of our rights

    I also live in a city where provisions of this act were (mis)used not to go after terrorists, but after "garden variety" criminals.

    In making purchases off of the internet or at a store, I had to pick and choose what I wanted to buy with a CC. Afterall, in the hands of an overzealous prosecutor with an axe to grind, my purchase of the book/film for Lolita and The Tin Drum could be turned into "evidence" of my pedophilla or some other such rot. "Would it play well in Peoria" became my yardstick for all CC purchases. No really. I deal with a government that would inflict such craplaw as the Patriot Act on us with extreme paranoia.

    (But, one part of me has a tiny twinge of sorrow at watching this act of justice delayed. It's mightily hard to be fiscally irresponsible when you've switched to a "cash diet" to make all your major purchases. It's going to be a little harder for me to be "good" now.)

  • Judicial Tyrany (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gokeln (601584) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:00PM (#10387866)
    There is a fine line to be found between protecting the rights of individuals and protecting the right of the People to be secure. The Patriot Act sought to define the line, giving the Executive more power to track these financial transactions, without scrutiny of the individual being investigated, and with limited oversight.

    We need some kind of oversight, because the Executive may abuse the power. Not every executive will be as trustworthy as others in regard to protecting the rights of individuals.

    One thing to consider, however, is that with judicial oversight, you can have another form of tyrany, where an overzealous judge prevents an Executive from doing his job to protect the People. We only have an appeals process for this, which hopefully results in a well-reasoned balance of rights. However, as the judicial confirmation process becomes more and more politicized, you can expect more and more partisans being placed in lifetime-tenured posts.

    No judge is ever going to rule less power for the Judicial branch. I, for one, do not welcome our judicial overlords. Lex Rex.
    • by hopethishelps (782331) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:31PM (#10388233)
      the right of the People to be secure

      There is no such right. There cannot be, because it is impossible to provide it, as long as people continue to meet each other. At some point you have to trust your neighbor not to try to kill you; in part, you rely on people being mostly reasonable, and in part, you earn the trust by behaving in a reasonable manner towards your neighbor.

  • by IvyMike (178408) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:07PM (#10387936)
    Seriously, whenever I hear about any of the freedom-reducing provisions of the Patriot act, I can't help but ask myself, "What exactly do these people like about America? As for myself, I always felt very proud of our freedom, but these jokers keep taking it away bit by bit, and don't even appear to feel bad about it."

    Bush calls the terrorists "freedom-haters", but ironically I see his administration as one of the biggest "freedom-reducers" in the past 20 years. Heck, under their own logic, by cutting our freedoms, aren't they giving the freedom-hating terrorists what they want?

    Is having a free country hard? Yes. But as a country, don't we pride ourselves on doing the right thing, even if it's tough? I thought we did. Is there an alternative to the Patriot act that would preserve our safety and yet not place such restrictive burden on our freedom? I think there is, but it doesn't feel like we even tried looking for it.

    P.S. Would the Patriot act have prevented 9/11? This is a guessing game, and it's hard to characterize such a giant bloated act, but most of the provisions under the Patriot act don't seem like they even begin to address the real problems that allowed 9/11 to happen. So ironically, we've given away a lot of freedom for a bunch of laws that wouldn't have made us safer.
  • by Bodysurf (645983) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:26PM (#10388160)

    Is that the government uses it against NON-TERRORISTS.

    Not only that, the government has used it against non-terrorists MORE THAN it has been used against terrorists.

    It's a bad law, just like the DMCA, that gives the executive branch too much power without the benefit of the checks and balances of which our government is based.

  • Read the law itself (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheHawke (237817) <rchapin&pelicancoast,net> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:42PM (#10388397)
    The USA-PATRIOT Act was not really built as a anti-terrorism act, but as a addon to the RICO statutes pre-9/11. After 9/11, they put a different wrapper on it and ramrodded it thru the houses. Even the media was snookered by the wrapper and the facade that was built up around it.

    The law in question that got bobbed got a stargate fansite in the dip as I recall.. The posting's in slashdot's archives, but i've not the time to dig for it.
  • victory for whom? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peyna (14792) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:51PM (#10388501) Homepage
    In a victory today for the ACLU, (and many Slashdotters I presume)

    How about "a victory for all of the United States" ?
  • by codepunk (167897) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @06:03PM (#10388634)
    The problem with the patriot act is that throws the intended checks and balances between the legislative and judicial branches of the govt. Finally somebody stepped up and layed that out in plain english. The patriot act does absolutely nothing to combat terrorism. Bin Laden's camel rider letter carrier is not likely to be intercepted via a FBI wiretap.
  • by Mulletproof (513805) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @06:05PM (#10388652) Homepage Journal
    "In a victory today for the ACLU, (and many Slashdotters I presume) the section of the Patriot Act which gives power to the FBI to demand confidential financial records from companies as part of terrorist investigations has been ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Judge. Victor Marreo, the District Judge who made this ruling, states that the provision of the Patriot Act in question 'effectively bars or substantially deters any judicial challenge.'"

    Now half you people actually shouldn't be posting in this thread, given how you've been incessantly bitching on how this is the Patriot Act was the beginning of Imperial America, how the system is broken beyond repair, etc, etc, etc. I know it's hard to swallow, but here's a lesson made painfully obvious by this story: THE SYSTEM WORKS. Here's another fact for you-- The founding fathers were obviously more itelligent than you give them credit for. The specifically designed a government around the concept of paranoia, a thought that is ofter lost among the blithering on how their ideas are too antiquated for our time when the first hint of turbulent weather blows our way. Because they were wiser than most of you, extremes such as these always manage to even out; see McCarthyism, Japanese camps in WW2, and any number of other "the sky is falling!" events that this country has somehow survived.

    If I could reach past my last 25 posts, you'd be in for a nice, ripe "I told you so."
  • by Artagel (114272) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @06:27PM (#10388847) Homepage
    Here is the opinion. [uscourts.gov]
  • by IBitOBear (410965) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @08:13PM (#10389695) Homepage Journal
    So it occured to me that the fundimental failing of our political process is fairly simple. It became obvious some time back that you cannot successfully legislate morals, so the people in power pandered and began legislating what I call "moralisim".

    The legislation of Moralisim is what happens when you cannot pass a ban on a book, so you establish a "community standards" test to allow each community to decide to ban the book because it would be bad to "force them to accept the book." In Moralisim, if you can not achieve the ban, you ban banning the ban...

    It's a back-handed logical trick, like arguing to authority, where you open up patchwork of recursively nested micro-fifes. Consider "Dry" neighborhoods in "Wet" cities in "Dry" counties. You get to a place where you can't ban the book, so you ban yourself from controlling the ban on books and leave it up your political constituents to "decide for themselves".

    It produces little political kingdoms where vocal extremests and idealogues can stake out parts of the landscape for various dogmatic purposes.

    It also "levels the playing field" in a way that isnt right, but that "sounds fair" to those who are not paying proper heed. This ersatz seeming fairness can then be used as "authority" unilaterally. It rases a cloud of uncertainty where any stupid thing becomes possible as an "act of the people" because all "rights" become beasts of equal prescidence.

    Consider: I have the right to keep and bare arms, you have the right not to be gunned down at the Circle-K. These two rights do *not* hold equal precidence, the right not to be gunned down is ever-so-more significant. This does *NOT* however mean that the right to keep and bare arms is somehow "punctured" and suddenly goes away. The fact is that these two rights are not really in conflict because the responsable exercise of one doesn't lead enexorably to the violation of the other.

    Compare this then to "smoking", you have the right to smoke and I have the right not to. Here the right not to smoke trounces the right to smoke. You are asked to step out side. It didn't have to be that way, if the smokers had always "smoked responsibly" by observing other peoples right to smoke, they would have stepped out side all along and there woudn't have to be bans. (They probably wouldn't throw polyester butts on the gound either were responsibility the watchword in smokers... 8-) But the refrain of "why do I have to leave, I have the right to somke" with the hidden codicil "anywhere I damn well please no matter what the consequences."

    See, the responsibility has gone, along with most of the burden of dilligence and accountability, and so "rights" rule supreme.

    This is the inevetable result of Moralist policies. Moralisim is the proverbial washing-of-hands. "We didn't rule on this, it is the will of our populous and our populous has that right." Nudge nudge, wink wink...

    The PATRIOT Act is a natural outgrowth of the Moralist agenda. It supports a vacation of responsibility and accountability in the name of preserving the "right to safety." The penetration and disapation of the "right to privacy and due process", it says, must be spent as the inferior right because in the moralist realm whenever two rights come into conflict one must be supreme, a "true right" and one must be defeated utterly as not having really been a right at all.

    What's actually kind of funny is that Moralisim is a revival of the old Might makes Right paradigm. We set our ideals up against one another to see which one will beat the other to death in a court of public spectacle.

    So there is a hierarchy of rights, but only in the presence of responsibilities and accountabilities.

    But it really _isn't_ any kind of balancing act. You are not supposed to pay for one right, like safety, by betraying another, like due process.

    You are supposed to pay for rights with the currency of responsibility.

    We harvest today the fruits of terrorisim becau
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @12:57AM (#10391391) Homepage
    The constitutional trouble with the Patriot Act is because the Bush Administration hates judicial oversight, and drafted the Patriot Act to avoid it. Not because judicial oversight interferes with legitimate investigations, but because judicial oversight results in law enforcement being chewed out by judges when they do something dumb.

    President Bush routinely tacks the following paragraph onto the end of almost every executive order [whitehouse.gov], to attempt to evade judicial oversight of that order.

    • This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees or agents, or any other person.
    That appears at the end of every executive order issued this year, except the ones raising pay for senior politically appointed officials. Other presidents would do this occasionally for minor administrative matters, but Bush does it every time.

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