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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 @03:41PM (#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.
  • by lothar97 (768215) * <owen AT smigelski DOT org> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:41PM (#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...?

  • Supreme Court (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:42PM (#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 @03:42PM (#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.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:42PM (#10387648) Journal
    That's interesting, could you explain why? I was under the impression that the lower courts order would be binding unless the supreme court chose to override it.
  • Ohmygod! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:45PM (#10387682) Journal
    "The terrorists have won", Ashcroft will croon...
  • by qbzzt (11136) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:46PM (#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.

  • Please remind me. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:47PM (#10387715) Journal
    Please remind me of all the Dems that voted against the patriot act.

    Thanks in advance.
  • by jginspace (678908) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [ecapsnigj]> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:48PM (#10387719) Homepage Journal
    Music today is so uninspiring it would make Martin Luther King want to watch Friends. The patriotic act is merely protecting shitty music, shitty movies, and other contemporary shit designed to make money. Who cares.
    This is the Patriot act; not the DMCA.
  • by dan_sdot (721837) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:49PM (#10387741)
    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 ajakk (29927) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:49PM (#10387743) Homepage
    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.
  • good idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apachetoolbox (456499) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:50PM (#10387748) Homepage
    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...
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:54PM (#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......
  • by dan_sdot (721837) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:54PM (#10387798)
    Awww.... come on
    You act as if the ACLU has an agenda that they are trying to disguise under the ploy of "Civil Liberties."

    Oh, wait. They do.
  • Re:good idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TykeClone (668449) <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:55PM (#10387805) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • Republicans? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by paranode (671698) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:57PM (#10387818)
    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 bill. Those senators of course included your beloved John Kerry.
  • by Stealth Potato (619366) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:58PM (#10387839)
    I fail to see how the last paragraph constituted trolling. Note the poster's selection of language: "Republicans ... seem to be under the belief..." (emphasis mine). He's not trolling, he's voicing his opinion. Since when is it trolling to have (and state) what may be a somewhat extreme (or possibly exaggerated) opinion? Just because you disagree with his appraisal of the situation (or are alarmed by it) does not mean he's a troll.

    One should at least have some consideration for the fact that it's only too easy to resort to dogmatic statements when discussing a strong opinion or belief.

  • by TykeClone (668449) <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:58PM (#10387844) Homepage Journal
    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 Spetiam (671180) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:59PM (#10387847) Journal
    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 "militants," "freedom fighters," "insurgents" or "Le Resistance," even if they didn't target civilians and non-combatants.
  • by isolation (15058) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:02PM (#10387887) Homepage
    It is nice to see someone point this out. School Vouchers allow for Choice!

    It should be no surprise that the same people that always bitch and want to be Pro-Choice (the right to kill a child) are really anti-choice when it comes to selecting where to educate that child.

  • by fireduck (197000) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:02PM (#10387888)
    I don't see how the 2 issues contradict each other. Both viewpoints seem to adhere to the idea of separation of church and state. With regards to abortion, the ACLU believes the legality of abortion should not be threatened by an individual or groups religious beliefes interefering with the state's law making decisions. The same argument holds for the school voucher issue, just in reverse. The state's law making abilities should not favor a religious belief.

    They're both consistent. Keep religion out of public legislation, whether it's laws that potentially support a religion (school vouchers) or laws that run afoul of some people's religious sensibilities (abortion.)
  • Re:Common Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:03PM (#10387902) Journal
    Like the old saying - you gave him an inch, he will ask for a foot, it does apply to both ways though.

    I don't think this is a good explanation of why PATRIOT act is bad. I reject is because it violates the Popperian criterion of good law (not to be mistaken by the more famous Popperian criterion [wikipedia.org] of what is and what isn't scientific). Popper said that it is reasonable to assume that sooner or later some rotten scoundrels will gain power. It's not important who they will be precisely, but whatever your politcal views might be you must agree that a likelihood of such event is rather high. So whatever law you want to have in you country, don't ask yourself the question "how this law can be used in good hands". Ask the question "how this law can be used when the filthiest, dirtest, stupidest bastards will rule my country (and sooner or later they probably will)". Only the law that cannot be used to anything wrong EVEN by the most vicious ruler is truly good. Now, PATRIOT act could maybe be a good idea in the hands of pure angels. Even if you think Bush and Cheney are as good as angels, you can't seriously think they will rule forever, can you? And just imagine what a malevolent ruler can do with this act...
  • by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:05PM (#10387912)
    I seriously doubt you're a lawyer, because no lawyer I know would be so reckless as to make this statement. It's just plain wrong, and I hope anyone reading this thread will remember how dangerous it is to get a legal education on Slashdot.

    This judge's ruling is binding within his jurisdiction. That means it's a settled issue within that district. This will undoubtedly be appealed to an appellate court, and once it hits the appellate level, the appeals court will re-examine the conclusions of law. The conclusions of fact, though, are supreme and cannot be re-examined by any court unless they are "as offensive to the senses as a three day old mackerel". (For non-lawyers, yes, that is the legal standard used. The precedent in question is a funny read.)

    Once the appellate court rules on it, the judgement is binding within the appellate court's entire jurisdiction. At this point, the law is effectively dead. Other appellate courts will refer to this first appellate court in their own decisions, and it's overwhelmingly likely all Federal circuits will come to the exact same decision.

    The Supreme Court accepts less than one percent of the cases appealed to it from the appellate court level. The cases it accepts tends, overwhelmingly, to be cases which have been handled in different ways by different appellate courts (a rare occurrence), or cases which it feels to possess unusual relevance to Constitutional law.

  • by nb caffeine (448698) <nbcaffeine@gma i l .com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:05PM (#10387917) Homepage Journal
    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 IvyMike (178408) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:07PM (#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 ElForesto (763160) <[elforesto] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:07PM (#10387941) Homepage

    I don't see how allowing a parent to make a choice as to how their kid is educated their their own money (which is, essentially what tax dollars are) constitutes an endorsement of religion. The parents are as free to choose an aethist setting as they are a Catholic setting. The argument just doesn't hold water, methinks.

    The ACLU has a left-wing agenda, and it shines on through with inconsistencies such as this. (And before you say anything, know that I work with the ACLU on the Nevada Campaign to Defeat the PATRIOT Act. So there.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:08PM (#10387958)
    "Please remind me of all the Dems that voted against the patriot act."

    Kind of hard to find, but not for the reason you are thinking. The Dems were spineless, yes. But it was the Bush team that had Patriot waiting in the wings, and then pushed hard for it after 9/11, calling into question the patriotism of anyone who defied anything they said, waving the flag, going rah rah, and basically cowing any politician who dared not to vote for the Patriot act (which no one read because the Bush team swapped the details at the last minute before the vote).

    So. Given that, we have a choice of condemning the Dems for not standing up for what is right at a time when the whole country was screaming at them to DO SOMETHING. Not good, but understandle human nature. On the other hand, we have the Bush team that had the details of the Patriot act ready to roll, just looking for an excuse to use it, used 9/11 for political gain, impugned the patriotism of anyone who cricized them (though they later turned out to be right), and began enforcing the provisions of the Act in ways that had nothing to do with terrorism, at times.

    Which side was worse? Right: both. But one side scares me a whole lot more than the other side.

  • by j-turkey (187775) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:09PM (#10387963) Homepage
    What follows is from another site but it shows the ACLU isn't as consistant as some say they are.

    I'm not sure that I'm reading your post right...perhaps I'm just misunderstanding your logic. Could you elaborate on how this is an inconsistency?

    It seems to me that the ACLU is saying something like "we oppose laws based on someone's dogmatic morality". They're also appear to take on a position along the lines of "we oppose government funding of religious education". To me, their message seems pretty consistent that they fear the government imposing religion of any kind, in any way, and take a "slippery slope" attitude.

    What does strike me as strange in the second link that you pointed out may have everything to do with my perceptions. I always imagined the ACLU as a pretty objective Libertarian organization. I was also under the impression that Libertarians would see the school vouchers as a step in the right direction -- allowing the people to choose (privatizing public schools and handing out vouchers in order to end the debate about religous education in schools...among other things). Perhaps I'm wrong in at least one of these assumptions.

  • by dan_sdot (721837) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:16PM (#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 prowley (587280) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:22PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:23PM (#10388141)

    Re:The ACLU isn't sane. [slashdot.org] (Score:3, Funny)

    You act as if the ACLU has an agenda that they are trying to disguise under the ploy of "Civil Liberties."

    Oh, wait. They do.


    I don't know why this was modded "Funny."

    Contrary to what they want many peope to believe, the ACLU does not "defend the Constitution." They merely use it as a tool when it advances their agenda, and ignore it when it doesn't.

    ACLU President Nadine Strossen [aclu.org] said this about "constitutional rights" vs. "civil liberties":


    Putting all that aside, I don't want to dwell on constitutional analysis, because our view has never been that civil liberties are necessarily coextensive with constitutional rights. Conversely, I guess the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn't necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty.


    source:
    "Life, Liberty, and the ACLU: An Interview with Nadine Strossen"
    Reason, October 1994 [reason.com]
  • by Bodysurf (645983) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:26PM (#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.

  • by hopethishelps (782331) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:31PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:36PM (#10388318)
    I am constantly amazed at how self-deluding Americans are about the use of atomic weaponry during the war. On the one hand, you decry the Battle of Britain and Germany's targetting of civilians, but the Allies were responsible for far more heinous acts on the general populace. Dresden Firestorm anyone?

    Trotting out the tired "to save lives" argument is like saying that the killing of American servicemen in Iraq is justified because it saves insurgents lives.
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:45PM (#10388432) Homepage Journal
    IAAL (I Am A Lawyer) and this is entirely meaningless unless it is ruled by the supreme court. Hopefully on appeal the Supreme Court accepts this case.

    You don't understand. Hopefully the USSC does NOT hear this case. If they refuse to hear it, the current ruling stands.

    LK
  • by cOdEgUru (181536) * <cherian@abraham.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:47PM (#10388467) Homepage Journal
    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 is not looking to its past at the mistakes made in foreign policy, it is looking to solve the problems in the present with narrow minded, short term solutions with no clear idea as to how to tackle the future. This administration is blatantly campaigning in fear hoping that the public wont realize they govern in obfuscation.

    I blame the whole house for passing the Patriot Act. The Act itself was everything the Justice dept was salivating for the past few years, but never getting enough proponents to get safe passage. In the aftermath of Sept 11, there was enough fear, enough pseudo-patriotism in the air that to question the absence of oversight would have been deemed unpatriotic. And everyone fell under the notion that Patriot Act would ride in on a white horse and save the day. The sad truth is though initially flaunted as the cure for domestic terrorism, it is slowly but surely being used to spy on our own citizens with no judicial oversight at all. That is scary. And anyone who say otherwise has lived a sheltered existance their whole life which is about to be a memory. Slowly but surely our personal freedoms would erode, and we will look back on these days and wonder what went wrong..
  • victory for whom? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peyna (14792) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:51PM (#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 M-G (44998) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:52PM (#10388520)
    Maybe the political notes should go to politics.slashdot.org and not so much here, eh?

    Do you think that you can actually isolate politics from this? Whoever wins in November will most likely be appointing at least one Supreme Court justice. Do you really think Bush would be picking nominees who feel that PATRIOT is unconstitutional? That would be one of those 'activist' judges....
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:55PM (#10388556) Homepage Journal
    When Giuliani replaces Ashcroft in Bush Jr Part II, he'll be smart enough to pass a Patriot Act that won't get overturned, despite its fascist mechanics. Or you can vote for Kerry in November.
  • by bckrispi (725257) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:55PM (#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.
  • Re:Big Deal (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:59PM (#10388599)
    Also... history shows that Liberty does not reside in the "goodwill" of those currently in office... those names and faces are transitory. Liberty resides in a system of enforced written laws which prevent those currently in office from restricting it.

    If you give the government a power, it will eventually use it.
  • by codepunk (167897) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:03PM (#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 AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:06PM (#10388662)
    Yeah, and we all know that it wasn't necessary to save hundreds of thousands of lives during a period of world war.

    And that is why we will be targets for terrorism. They have declared war against us. Jihad; look it up. So, since they are trying to save lives in the goal to wipe out the infidels, why would it be a problem if they set off a 50 megaton device in the center of NY, LA, or Chicago? If they win, they can justify it later as saving total lives, and someone else will target them for being so conceited and pretentious.

    The only way to "win" the war on terrorism is to identify why we are targets, and eliminate the reasons. I'll give you a hint, invading a country with very little international support isn't helping. In fact, terrorist organizations control more territory in Iraq than before the war. Look at all the "do not go" zones for American military. They are listed as such because terrorists control them. Terrorists that wouldn't exist if we hadn't invaded their homeland.

    When the only country to have used nuclear weapons keeps lecturing others not to do it, it looks pretty bad. Do as we say, not as we do.
  • by j-turkey (187775) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:11PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:19PM (#10388765)
    They won when they successfully induced terror. Duh.

    (New York Mayor) Rudy Giuliani was encouraging everyone to not give the attackers the satisfaction of becoming paralyzed.

    It's the federal government who collectively peed themselves in fear and did a lot of stupid things in response. *That*, not the death and destruction of the attack itself, was what made it successful.

    It was very clever force multiplication to use commercial aircraft to attack buildings. It was even cleverer force multiplication to use Congress to attack the Constitution and people of the United States.

    The plane doesn't have a choice, but I'm really disgusted that Congress let themselves be used as puppets dancing to the attackers' tune in that way.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:20PM (#10388778) Homepage
    ... if the goal of the terrorists was to uphold the Constitution, then I don't think that'd be so bad.

    Something makes me think 'the terrorists' and Ashcroft have frighteningly similar opinions on -that-, though. Both would rather live in a theocracy...
  • by einhverfr (238914) <chris@travers.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:22PM (#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.
  • by debrain (29228) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:27PM (#10388851) Journal
    I seriously doubt you're a lawyer, because no lawyer I know would be so reckless as to make this statement. It's just plain wrong

    Obviously, you haven't met many lawyers. ;) Being wrong doesn't seem to be a prerequisite for deciding not to make a statement.
  • by antv (1425) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:43PM (#10388966)
    Disclaimer: Do I look like a lawyer ?

    It looks like Kerry had written couple of bills before that allow investigation of banks, assets forefiture, etc. Later those bills were added to USAPATRIOT Act.

    This case is, OTOH, is about which records Ashcroft could demand without court oversight, and wether they could keep those searches secret. If FBI has a warrant, they could look at your financial records without USAPATRIOT. USAPATRIOT, however, also allows them to look at your records without court warrant - which is evil.

    Read more here:
    http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2004_09.ph p#00194 5
  • by winwar (114053) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:52PM (#10389019)
    "Still, if we're going to fight a war we can't win, wouldn't it be better to fight one of the dangers that really do face us on a daily basis?"

    You have an excellent point. But it appears that we CAN win a war on our liberty :( Or at least some are trying....
  • Re:Common Sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:59PM (#10389077) Journal
    So whatever law you want to have in you country, don't ask yourself the question "how this law can be used in good hands". Ask the question "how this law can be used when the filthiest, dirtest, stupidest bastards will rule my country (and sooner or later they probably will)". Only the law that cannot be used to anything wrong EVEN by the most vicious ruler is truly good.

    Which is of course, no law. Law is by definition coercive, and coercion is the most fundamental evil. "good" and "evil" are only defined with respect to our desires, what we desire is defined as good, and what we despise is defined by evil. Obviously different individuals have different desires, and so good and evil are always relative terms. But the important thing is that coersion subverts ones will, and so whenever you use force, you are committing evil against some section of the population.

    Think about it this way. If a law was entirely good, people would want to follow it, so no coersion would be required, so no law woul be required.
  • by dont_think_twice (731805) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @06:06PM (#10389157) Homepage
    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

    Ummm, you do realize that a major portion of the PATRIOT act is devoted to breaking down the barriers between different arms of the government - so now the IRS can talk to the CIA and the FBI about you.

    Before you get too excited - those barriers were put in place to protect your civil liberties, The more freely information flows between different parts of the government, the closer we are to a big brother state - almost by definition.
  • by GlassHeart (579618) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @06:38PM (#10389445) Journal
    Yes. Even the UN claimed that over 300,000 people were killed by Saddam's regime.

    ...over a 23 year reign, which makes it an average of about 13,000 deaths each year. America alone lost about 1,000 troops in Iraq in the past 12 months, and it would not at all be surprising if at least 12,000 Iraqis have also died in the same period. (Some 100,000 Iraqi soldiers died in Kuwait in 1991, while the US lost less than 300 soldiers.)

    If you're looking only at the body count, which let me first say is a skewed way of examining things, the US occupation so far probably was not any less bloody than Saddam's reign.

  • by IBitOBear (410965) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @07:13PM (#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 cOdEgUru (181536) * <cherian@abraham.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @07:13PM (#10389696) Homepage Journal
    Neither. Search for "Patriot Act" on news.google.com and you would find it on reputable media websites like NYTimes, Reuters etc. So seriously, be knowledgeable of what you speak or be silent.

    And as far as radical islamic terrorists, this play has just begun, its Act 1. Also they dont want you to bow to Islam, most of them just want the US to leave them the fuck alone. But nope, we need to shine the beacon of democracy down every nook and cranny. And along with it, we also like to stick our guns in there as well. Meanwhile, we do kill quite a bit of civilians because they are collateral damage for our precision guided bombs. And when men who lost their parents, kids, wives, sisters, brothers and friends take up their arms to fight their opressor, they turn in to terrorists.

    To a certain extent, US is reaping what it did sow, in the middle east, in Afghanistan. Its trying to clean up a mess which it created, by being in bed with Mujahid Warriors and with the Saudi and other Royal families across the middle east for their oil. If these nations were democratic or at the very least moderate islamic nations we would not find Middle east to be as messed up as it is. I am not pointing a finger at US for creating this mess. But let it not start pretending that it woke up one day and were attacked by these evil men because of our freedom.
  • by zogger (617870) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @07:33PM (#10389801) Homepage Journal
    When even with the info [sfgate.com] lower level agents get ignored [washingtonpost.com] because "terrorist" actions are merely part of the plan? something like a "new pearl harbor" like event [newamericancentury.org] And which is it again, when you are "following orders", do you investigate, or shine it on because some "superior" individual has connections with those you are supposedly investigating, so vital information gets ignored on purpose? [infowars.com] Why is it, when someone with the legal and law enforcement cred of David Schippers, successful impeacher of a freekin president, successful chicago area mob prosecutor, can't even get word to ashcroft [infowars.com] (I'm sure you heard of that gent) about upcoming bad news scenarios despite repeated and exhaustive attempts? Why is that, an "unfortunate intelligence failure"? Or was it because it was ON PURPOSE. Ignored, avoided on purpose?

    Sorry, I'll be way way WAY more impressed when some white guys in suits and uniforms get indicted by a grand jury for some charges up to and including murder and treason. You can talk about "additional powers" then, once you effectively use the ones you already have, and a LOT more of you come forward like the small handful of TRULY brave and honest agents have,and stop being chicken for your careers over the nations safety. Follow your oath, not your paycheck in other words. Use your brain for something more than to absorb "commands". You're an agent, they are supposed to QUESTION things, not just blindly follow orders, they are supposed to deal in data, not be part of a massive coverup that's destroying a nation and imperiling the entire planet.

    Nuhremberg established the precedent, "following orders" is no excuse for helping along high crimes and misdemeanors, and being as it's the internet age and some decent info is available, there's no excuse for remaining so uninformed other than laziness and an uncaring attitude and blind obedience and brainwashing.

    Oh, the links? There's hundreds more, THOUSANDS more,just use google, 9-11, government prior knowledge [google.com] is a good start. I'm not going to do your work for you, and if you had been paying attention even just on slashdot you would have already seen quite a few of them dropped, in many articles and in many comments.

    Educate thyself before wanting to make all the US people some "enemy" to "investigate". We have had enough of the surveil/command/CONTROL aspect of this and the recent past US "regimes" and their (mostly) *mercenaries*. Stop being a stooge for them killers and thieves.

    Here, I'll give you an easy one. How did WTC building 7 manage to fall down? Here's another easy one, bush and company, including rice, swore to the 9-11 "investigative commission" that they had "no idea that planes could be used for hijacking and then used as weapons" and etc.. uh huh. How do you explain terrorist hijacking scenario drills [usatoday.com], one being run the same day as the attacks then? [globalfreepress.com] A COINCIDENCE? You smelling a rat yet? I hope so, I really do.. we need more honest cops, less blind order followers. I hope you are one of the former.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @08:35PM (#10390225) Homepage Journal
    The Skeletor I'm talking about is Giuliani. After seeing him on TV here in NYC for almost a decade, his grinning skull became indistinguishable from the other cackling menace, bent on dominating mankind with his cruel minions. As for Kerry, I'll take his "95%" of the Patriot Act over Bush's 110%. That's the choice we've got. The other choice is to keep active in politics until we get proportional voting, or some other way out of the Coke/Pepsi party duopoly. We do not have a choice to elect Badnarik, or me, because these other candidates aren't popular enough. The real mechanics of our winner-take-all elections mean picking from the two which will get within reach. Badnarik isn't one of those, and neither am I.
  • by Draknor (745036) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @09:19PM (#10390517) Homepage
    I'm sorry, but the fact that a law entitled "USA PATRIOT Act" passed the Senate almost unanimously, just 45 days after a major terrorist attack on US soil, with NO discussion or debate, does not strike you as un-democratic?

    Thankfully ONE of our senators, Russ Feingold (D-WI), actually has a clue [archipelago.org].

    I, for one, do NOT believe that the USA PATRIOT Act has stopped ANY terrorist attack, anymore than the No-Child Left Behind Act. After all, we haven't had any terrorist attacks since NCLB passed, right? Repeat after me: Correlation != Causation.

    The failures that led to 9/11, as I understand them, were not from a lack of power or authority by intelligence agencies. It was due to poor communication and poor management. The "war on terror" is, IMHO, the new "war on drugs". It's an Orwellian war - never-ending war on a faceless enemy that you must support or else you are unpatriotic.

    Are terrorists out there? Yes. Not all of them are hail from Saudi Arab^H^H^HIraq. Some are American citizens (McVeigh, for one. And anyone remember the Unabomber?) Will giving up our essential freedoms protect us from the terrorists? No. I don't feel any safer on an airplane now that I know no one on board has a tweezers, nail clips, or cuticle scissors. I don't feel safer knowing the the FBI can demand my library reservations, financial records, and health history, all without my knowledge (secret searches), with no judicial oversight. If you think I'm exaggerating, I suggest you read up a bit [aclu.org].

    But the terrorists are really out to get us, folks. They tell us every day, and they are not kidding.

    So who are we fighting again? The Eurasians or Eastasians? [online-literature.com]
  • by Ryan Stortz (598060) <ryan0rz@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @09:53PM (#10390716)
    Sure, we know the system works. It just doesn't work fast enough. This law should of been completly shot down by now.

    I'd like to see some sort of ammendment that requires 3 randomly chosen (through a lottery) federal judges to review the law before it goes into effect. If two or all three say no, then it goes through a randomly chosen district to check it's constitutionality. :)

    Too bad it'll never happen.
  • by Draknor (745036) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:59AM (#10391857) Homepage
    We're obviously on different sides of the fence, but I appreciate good political discussion :-)

    Having said that, the notion that the Bush administration has not used the PATRIOT Act to protect us from terrorist attacks is just plain wrong. Many attacks have been foiled, including major ones.

    Any evidence to back that up? I would be curious to know how many "foiled terrorist attacks" there were before and after the USA PATRIOT Act was passed. Assuming the number has gone up, then what percentage of those used powers granted under the USA PATRIOT Act? It's not a simple scientific query - there were many changes made in public & private attitudes and perceptions after 9/11. I would hypothesize that increased public awareness alone probably foiled more terrorist attacks than powers granted by the USA PATRIOT Act. Richard Reid's (aka The Shoe Bomber's) attempted terrorism is just such an example. He was a British passenger on a flight outbound from Paris, and it was observant passengers & flight attendents who prevented him from blowing up the blame. Not FBI agents looking at his library records, nor police secretly reviewing his financial affairs.

    You're comparison of the war on terrorism with the war on drugs is typical of the misconceptions here on /. The war on terrorism is very real whether or not you have your head buried in the ground.

    I believe terrorism is very real. We've had terrorism before 9/11, on 9/11, and we will continue to have it after 9/11. The terrorists will change, their motivations and methods will change, but we'll always have terrorism. This "war on terrorism" is a catch-phrase, a gimmick. It is the Bush administration's way to ignore all of the complicated, messy details of why terrorism exists, and instead to fill the newspapers and talk shows with a simple "We're the righteous good guys, and we're going to kill the terrorist bad guys" message.

    Terrorism works because it preys upon people's fears. This "war on terrorism" does the same thing - it creates and exploits the public's fears.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @08:55AM (#10393835) Homepage
    what is to stop the executive branch (or DoD) from making mass secret arrests and refusing Habeus Corpus?

    There is nothing now, and nothing ever was. Witness the detention of Japanese after Pearl Harbor.

    We have the checks and balances, which help us recover our posture after shocks. But while regaining the steady, we will be rocking into different directions -- like all systems and structures.

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay

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