Senator vows to reform the PATRIOT Act

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 22:37 EDT
google plus icon
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

A Democratic senator from Oregon said Tuesday that Congress must use the three month extension of the PATRIOT Act to amend the legislation so that it does not violate American’s civil liberties.

“Americans deserve laws that strike the best possible balance between fighting terrorism ferociously and protecting the rights and freedoms of law-abiding American citizens,” Senator Ron Wyden, a senior member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement.

Congress passed a bill last week that extended three controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act until May 27.

The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama in the coming days.

“The Patriot Act does not strike that balance,” he continued. “It was written and passed six weeks after the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history. Congress wisely included sunset dates for the Patriot Act’s most controversial provisions, so that they could be thoughtfully considered at a later time. After ten years, it is clearly time for that debate.”

Last week, Sen. Wyden introduced a bill to narrow the PATRIOT Act’s section 215 provision, which allows law enforcement to obtain “any tangible thing,” including library and bookstore records.

Under the PATRIOT Act, that information can be obtained without demonstrating that the person whose records are sought is connected to terrorism in any way.

“Government agents should not be able to collect this sort of information on law abiding American citizens without showing that they have at least some connection to terrorism or other nefarious activities,” Sen Wyden said.

Wyden’s bill would force law enforcement to demonstrate that the records were in some way connected to terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities before gathering the information.

“Senator Wyden should be commended for his effort to narrow the Patriot Act’s reach,” ACLU Legislative Counsel Michelle Richardson said. “Holding law enforcement accountable for how it uses its authority will not only help to protect Americans’ privacy, it will ultimately keep us safer. We hope the Senate will strongly consider this bill in the next three months as it moves forward with debate on Patriot Act.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has also recently sought to reform the PATRIOT Act by increasing judicial oversight of government surveillance powers.

“I support strengthening oversight while providing the intelligence community the certainty it needs to protect national security,” Sen Leahy said. “The bill I hope we will consider before May 27 would give the intelligence community the certainty it needs by extending these expiring authorities while also strengthening congressional and judicial oversight.”

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.
  • http://www.BaltimoreGreenCurrency.org Shrapnel

    Amend it. Lipstick on a pig ya mean? A box of matches would be the best tool for that job.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FONW6K3ZWV4BU4ZTCDCSZHHH6E Mick Jagger

    Get rid of it all together, but at least Ron do what he can.

  • Anonymous

    Please just trash the unpatriotic Patriot Act! As long as it exists you’re inviting hatred and resentment from The People. The People will only be pushed so far before they go all Egypt on ur assets!

  • Anonymous

    The War on terror is really designed and conceived as a war on every American citizen. The media echosphere PR campaign that keeps telling us to “be afraid, be very afraid” is part of the overall scheme to turn us all into the next “terrorists.”

  • Anonymous

    Junk it yesterday.

  • Anonymous

    Agree completely. As long as it stands the way it is, we live in police state, not a free one.

    That the current parties so readily subverted the constitution’s principle explicit and implicit guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure in the face of a bunch of international mobsters is a black mark on all their members.

  • K7KTR

    They give it a FAKE NAME to make it seem like we are Un-Patriotic if we hate it. Reverse Psychology.

  • Anonymous

    Good to see one of my Senators doing something positive.

  • Anonymous

    Every senator and congressman who voted/votes for the patriot act is a traitor to the constitution and this country. Sadly the only senator to vote against it initially was defeated this last election cycle (Russ Feingold of WI). When will Americans start using the reasoning part of their brains instead of the stupid/fear part? When will liberals truly hold democrats accountable for their actions? (not voting at all is not helping anyone only hurting ourselves). I call on every liberal/progressive American to stop voting democrat and vote 3rd party or at least look at the democrats who are running in your state. Just because there might be a D next to their names does not mean they are good people to vote for.

  • DriveBy

    Let me get this straight…. the Senator will work on the law that’s designed to violate our rights to make it not violate our rights?
    I’d like to try some of whatever he’s smoking.

  • Anonymous

    As long as Gitmo is open, no one is safe. Arm yourselves. Now.

  • http://www.balmorheaprogressive.blogspot.com/ BaileyWuXiang

    He’s just going to change the name of it to the We’re Going to Violate Your Rights Act.

  • Anonymous

    About time at least one senator has realized the patriot act is not only designed for terrorists.

  • Anonymous

    This is all bull crap. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has tried to keep Siebel Edmonds quiet but she let out the reality of it all. The USA was running CIADUH up through 9/11/01 and still has cooperation with many Mujaheddin groups infiltrating Iran, Pakistan and other. The site http://www.juancole.com/2005/08/fisking-war-on-terror-once-upon-time.html has the full information of how CIADUH was started and it’s wars for the US as freedom fighters against the drawn in Soviets.

  • Anonymous

    Fisking the “War on Terror”

    Once upon a time, a dangerous radical gained control of the US Republican Party.

    Reagan increased the budget for support of the radical Muslim Mujahidin conducting terrorism against the Afghanistan government to half a billion dollars a year.

    One fifth of the money, which the CIA mostly turned over to Pakistani military intelligence to distribute, went to Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, a violent extremist who as a youth used to throw acid on the faces of unveiled girls in Afghanistan.

    Not content with creating a vast terrorist network to harass the Soviets, Reagan then pressured the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to match US contributions. He had earlier imposed on Fahd to give money to the Contras in Nicaragua, some of which was used to create rightwing death squads. (Reagan liked to sidestep Congress in creating private terrorist organizations for his foreign policy purposes, which he branded “freedom fighters,” giving terrorists the idea that it was all right to inflict vast damage on civilians in order to achieve their goals).

    Fahd was a timid man and resisted Reagan’s instructions briefly, but finally gave in to enormous US pressure.

    Fahd not only put Saudi government money into the Afghan Mujahideen networks, which trained them in bomb making and guerrilla tactics, but he also instructed the Minister of Intelligence, Turki al-Faisal, to try to raise money from private sources.

    Turki al-Faisal checked around and discovered that a young member of the fabulously wealthy Bin Laden construction dynasty, Usama, was committed to Islamic causes. Turki thus gave Usama the task of raising money from Gulf millionaires for the Afghan struggle. This whole effort was undertaken, remember, on Reagan Administration instructions.

    Bin Laden not only raised millions for the effort, but helped encourage Arab volunteers to go fight for Reagan against the Soviets and the Afghan communists. The Arab volunteers included people like Ayman al-Zawahiri, a young physician who had been jailed for having been involved in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat. Bin Laden kept a database of these volunteers. In Arabic the word for base is al-Qaeda.

    In the US, the Christian Right adopted the Mujahideen as their favorite project. They even sent around a “biblical checklist” for grading US congressman as to how close they were to the “Christian” political line. If a congressman didn’t support the radical Muslim Muj, he or she was downgraded by the evangelicals and fundamentalists.

    Reagan wanted to give more and more sophisticated weapons to the Mujahideen (“freedom fighters”). The Pakistani generals were forming an alliance with the fundamentalist Jamaat-i Islam and begining to support madrasahs or hardline seminaries that would teach Islamic extremism. But even they balked at giving the ragtag Muj really advanced weaponry. Pakistan had a close alliance with China, and took advice from Beijing.

    In 1985 Reagan sent Senator Orrin Hatch, Undersecretary of Defense Fred Iklé and others to Beijing to ask China to put pressure on Pakistan to allow the US to give the Muslim radicals, such as Hikmatyar, more sophisticated weapons. Hatch succeeded in this mission.

    By giving the Muj weaponry like the stinger shoulderheld missile, which could destroy advanced Soviet arms like their helicopter gunships, Reagan demonstrated to the radical Muslims that they could defeat a super power.

    Reagan also decided to build up Saddam Hussein in Iraq as a counterweight to Khomeinist Iran, authorizing US and Western companies to send him precursors for chemical and biological weaponry. At one point Donald Rumsfeld was sent to Iraq to assure Saddam that it was all right if he used chemical weapons against the Iranians. Reagan had no taste in friends.

    On becoming president, George H. W. Bush made a deal with the Soviets that he would cut the Mujahideen off if the Soviets would leave Afghanistan. The last Soviet troops departed in early 1989. The US then turned its back on Afghanistan and allowed it to fall into civil war, as the radical Muslim factions fostered by Washington and Riyadh turned against one another and used their extensive weaponry on each other and on civilians.

    In the meantime, Saddam, whom the US had built up as a major military power, invaded Kuwait. The Bush senior administration now had to take on its former protege, and put hundreds of thousands of US troops into the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. The radical Muslim extremists with whom Reagan and Bush had allied in Afghanistan now turned on the US, objecting strenuously to a permanent US military presence in the Muslim holy land.

    From 1994 Afghanistan was increasingly dominated by a faction of Mujahideen known as Taliban or seminary students (who were backed by Pakistani military intelligence, which learned the trick from Reagan and which were flush from all those billions the Reagan administration had funneled into the region). In 1996 Bin Laden came back and reestablished himself there, becoming the leader of 5,000 radical Arab volunteers that Reagan had urged Fahd to help come to Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

    In the meantime, the US had steadfastly supported Israeli encroachments on the Palestinian Occupied Territories and the gradual complete annexation of Jerusalem, the third holiest city to Muslims.

    Since the outbreak of the first intifada, Israeli troops had riposted with brutality. Even after the Oslo accords were signed, the size of Israeli colonies in the Palestinian West Bank and around Jerusalem doubled.

    A steady drumbeat of violence against Palestinians by Israelis, who were stealing their land and clearly intended to monopolize their sacred space, enraged the Muslim radicals that had been built up and coddled by Reagan.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ODHDTSN5TFE24TZS22LJWXHO6I Rash Lameballs

    “The secret to freedom lies in educating people,whereas the secret to tryanny is in keeping them ignorant”
    Maximilien Roperspierre

  • Guest

    Ron, you make me proud to live in Oregon!
    Next step, after amendment, though, is ERASURE!

  • Anonymous

    Repeal it altogether!

  • cannotvote

    First of all, all and every talk about terrorist attacks on 911 are false – consequently everything that follows is also.
    “The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the TV watcher to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US . . .” — Pierre-Henri Bunel
    “Fox and it’s cohorts that promulgated the tenure of the bUsh cabal are complicit in this false terrorist affair” – Dick Sensible.
    Why and to what end this debacle was started is likely an amalgam of ideas that ultimately results in the benefit to a minority – who and what that minority is/are is the real issue – and requires thought and a due diligence to determine – when determined measures should be made such that it’s ugly head never be allowed to assuage the minds of good people again – ever !
    The so called patriot act, is not an answer but a knee jerk reaction (follow the money) – that in it’s implementation is not in the best interests of the citizenry of not only the USA – but the World . The whole ‘act’ should simply be dissolved.

  • Anonymous

    Repeal the unconstitutional “Patriot Act.” Patriotism is and will always be the “last refuge of scoundrels,” and an excuse to destroy someone’s rights.

  • http://www.BaltimoreGreenCurrency.org Shrapnel

    The Patriot Act would have been inexcusable even if the government’s Hollywood fantasy about Muslim terrorists were valid. That despicable military/intelligence/propaganda operation created to provide justification for illegal wars of aggression has since been comprehensively exposed as a sham. What rationale remains for the Patriot Act, other than to protect the perpetrators of the 911 atrocity from the justified animosity of their own citizenry? The two corporate political parties, and their corporate allies in the media and the military, provide the only forum where scary boogeymen in turbans are the evil masters of the universe. Only in that fantasy world can the ongoing war on the ordinary people here and abroad be upheld as necessary. Descent into further madness will be the inevitable result.

  • Anonymous
  • Balthazars Rebellion

    Good intentions…maybe.
    Ron Wyden, “…. he continued. “It was written and passed six weeks after the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history.”
    Reality check: The 800 + pages of the Patriot Act were written prior to 9/11. The Patriot Act is part of a pre-planned agenda made possible by 9/11.

  • Brimstone Hill

    PATRIOT ACT = Police Allowed To Raid Interrogate Oppress Torture American Citizens Theorem

  • Anonymous

    Ditch it.

  • Guest

    It troubles me that nothing was done BEFORE it was extended. Why didn’t Wyden do something then?

    The Patriot Act is an excellent example of 1984′s newspeak where words take on the opposite of what they mean (e.g., “Freedom is slavery.”) Words are being used as little weapons in the war against our civil rights and in the arena of public discourse. The Republicans are masters of this. (Frank Luntz is their favorite spinmeister, the creator of many “talking points”. Ever notice how several Republicans start using the same phrases? The most recent example is when several republicans started bleating that Obama should stop “apologizing for America (or American exceptionalism)” and some said that they would never do that. The very name of the Patriot Act is another example. If you complain or criticize something called a “Patriot Act”, then by definition you must be unpatriotic.

    The Patriot Act is an affront to our civil rights. It would be best if it died a quick and grisly death, but I doubt that is possible at this time. I wish Wyden well and hope he is able to achieve some meaningful reforms. God knows there’s plenty to work on.

  • Guest

    they should re-name it to the Traitriot Act

  • http://twitter.com/btmfdrsheaven rebecca meritt

    Why should we as “free?” people settle for a narrowing of an already narrow minded law. Cut off the arms of this law that reaches into every facet of freedom and yanks it out of existence and make this “law” only a horrible memory.

  • Guest

    Yes, Ron has been consist in his support for middle-class and against abuse of power.

  • Guest

    Republicons have Orwellian Newspeak refined to a sophisticated art form.

  • Guest

    The only reform that should happen to this un-American and un-Patriotic Bill is to allow it to die a slow, agonizing death, (like our Civil Liberties) never to be forgotten, but never to be mentioned again and hope we can forgive ourselves for letting the Constitution down.

    One day we will be written into the story books as the WTF Generation. As in WTF were they thinking??

  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    eliminate the PATRIOT Act
    prosecute Lieberman now

  • Guest

    It’s the republicon blueprint.
    Witness their acrimony to unionized teachers.
    No unions, no standards and no accountability by the public is their intent.

  • Anonymous

    The “Patriot Act” is indeed what its name implies. It’s against patriots.
    You may want to read into this

  • Guest

    Thanks madrino! Excellent and concise expose.

    I well remember the sham of the Iran-Contra hearings. I remember Ollie North stone-walling and being promoted as a right-wing patriot. The hearings’ entire purposes were to throw sand in the eyes of our representatives and tell the American people “you’re safe with us…go back to sleep”.

  • Guest

    Can you provide support for your contention the the P.A. was written before 9/11?
    I’m not questioning you at all. It’s just nice to have legitimate sources to verify.

  • Guest

    Americans were traumatized. We were easy to dupe. Now we’re out of our stupor and our vision is becoming clear again. Acting conscientiously on what we see is our self-forgiveness.

  • Guest

    Absolutely. Much like the war on terror was implemented to put fear in peoples’ mind and not think or act reasonably. Anyone who challenged right-wing orthodoxy was too easily branded a terrorist sympathizer.

  • Guest

    I live in NY about 15 miles from Ground Zero and although I will agree that as a nation we have begun to reawaken from our collective stupor, from day one NYers were never duped. Not once have we caved into fear for voting for a Republican (in a major office) that will claim to keep us safe, although many of our politicians from both sides of the aisle, voted for this vile cancerous Bill out of fear of being called unpatriotic. I just wished the rest of the nation took our lead and realized that no one can change the fact that 9/11 occurred on a Republican Watch, but even when the British burned down the White House in 1812, it didn’t warrant racial profiling or suspending civil liberties for 10 years.

  • Anonymous

    You go Ron. However why the hell didn’t you do this before the damned this was extended.

  • Anonymous

    It really should be called, “Keep the people in line for our corporate sponsors Act”

  • Chicago “FOX”

    The Patriot Act in the future (if not changed) will be used to squash any future UNION Movement that dis-pleases the KOCH Brothers and other Corporate dictators……………………..You suppose Karl Rove will have anything to do with it.?………………………………….Charles Belenchia

  • http://www.hmdxaudio.com Bill eggen

    9/11, if it was an inside job, for the sake of argument, could have been an extortion plot against our government. After all, there was a fire in the White House, the same day, and how didn’t military planes shoot down these two civilian aircraft before hitting the towers. And, what of such precision flying. They had to be on auto pilot. With GPS guiding them there. Which begs the question, were the hijackers even on the plane when they hit the towers.
    Plus, where was the fuselage of the plane that supposedly hit the pentagon. Or was it some other type of impact oor explosion. How many of you reasonable, rational people out here, actually believe all this was masterminded by a few men residing a cave some 6000 miles away.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JETED5IFXLBHDCPATGS3JUS5HU Dip Stick

    How about reform the patriot act into the trash pile?

  • willymack

    Hey, folks.
    Wanna fix the (un) patriot act?
    Get RID of the unconstitutional piece of shit.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

    Get rid of the criminal Republican party at the same time. Life in the US will become exponentially better.

  • Anonymous

    Quite passing it. There is no fixing it. There is a saying “you don’t know what you have, until you have lost it” lets not test this.

  • http://twitter.com/tetramouse Mark Snyder

    Ah! the glorious Patriot Act! It defends your rights, freedoms by taking away your rights, freedoms. Pat.Act is a confirmation of the defeat of the principles that founded the United States. Welcome to Slave America!

  • Anonymous

    A lot of worthless talk and posturing by the Democratic Party members, but none of them have the balls to make a reformed Patriot Act become a reality. Better yet, that bullshit Act should have been left to die a quick death.

  • Anonymous

    You can like Clinton or you can hate Clinton…. But one thing Clinton did he gave Bush a balance Budget and was paying down the national debt.
    We have plenty of jobs and the middle class was growing. The corporations were starting to pay some of their share in taxes.
    Clinton passed bills to protect our environment , job safety for workers and Bush & Cheney were so busy changing those bills as soon as they took office , they did not give a damn about Bin Laden and look what happen 911.


    Facts don’t lie , but republicans sure do..

    Historic Economic Growth

    Clinton’s historical budget..

    Compare Year U.S. President GDP ($) Total Surplus Or Deficit(-) ($) Total Surplus or Deficit(-) as Percentage of GDP Total Receipts ($)
    Funds collected from selling land, capital, or services, as well as collections from the public (budget receipts), such as taxes, fines, duties, and fees.
    Total Receipts as Percentage of GDP Total Outlays ($)
    Net disbursements (cash payments in excess of cash receipts) for administrative expenses and for loans and related costs and expenses
    Total Outlays as Percentage of GDP
    Year President GDP 9$) Surplus or Deficit % Total Receipts %
    2000 Bill Clinton 9,821,000,000,000 236,241,000,000 2.4% 2,025,200,000,000 20.6%
    Total overlays %
    1,788,960,000,000 18.2%

    1999 Bill Clinton 9,208,400,000,000 125,610,000,000 1.4% 1,827,460,000,000 19.8% 1,701,850,000,000 18.5%

    1998 Bill Clinton 8,663,000,000,000 69,270,000,000 0.8% 1,721,730,000,000 19.9% 1,652,460,000,000 19.1%

    1997 Bill Clinton 8,211,700,000,000 -21,884,000,000 -0.3% 1,579,240,000,000 19.2% 1,601,120,000,000 19.5%

    1996 Bill Clinton 7,718,300,000,000 -107,431,000,000 -1.4% 1,453,060,000,000 18.8% 1,560,490,000,000 20.2%

    1995 Bill Clinton 7,341,100,000,000 -163,952,000,000 -2.2% 1,351,800,000,000 18.4% 1,515,750,000,000 20.6%

    1994 Bill Clinton 6,976,600,000,000 -203,186,000,000 -2.9% 1,258,580,000,000 18% 1,461,770,000,000 21%

    1993 Bill Clinton 6,587,300,000,000 -255,051,000,000 -3.9% 1,154,340,000,000 17.5% 1,409,390,000,000 21.4%

    Look what Bush left for his Friend Obama..

    Obama gets blames for Bush/Cheney republican debt.

  • http://twitter.com/tetramouse Mark Snyder

    PATRIOT ACT = Police Allowed To Raid Interrogate Oppress Torture American Citizens Totally (or Thoroughly)

  • http://twitter.com/tetramouse Mark Snyder

    Yes, but I’d prefer a rapid, agonizing death to the P.Act. You can’t preserve freedom by taking it away!

  • http://twitter.com/tetramouse Mark Snyder

    Repeal the Reichstag Fire Decree, er, I mean the Patriot Act. Although I must say these guys are even slicker than Hitler when it comes to bamboozling the general public. We owe that to the corporate owned news media that also buys off our leaders and make huge profits from war and milks the dying oil industry for all they can get before it runs out. I voted for Obama instead of a third party candidate because he somehow made me think he would end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and maybe even allow a real, impartial investigation into 9/11 and repeal the PatAct. And it looked like he could actually win the election. So I was taken for a ride once again. I say NEVER AGAIN! to all you war profiteers and fear mongers! Let’s take our country back! I envy and praise the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Wisconsin and all others rising up for their rights as humans.

  • Anonymous

    Suggesting anything less than repeal is blowing smoke up our collective asses.

  • Anonymous

    Our elected officials have felt particularly vulnerable since 9/11.

    That tragedy in Arizona showed them that angry Americans can be more dangerous to them than angry foreigners.

    They have hurt their cause by putting in place rules that they have not applied to themselves. They have placed themselves into a position of privilege. They have ignored many Americans. They have violated due process and seizure generally disrespected the electorate. They have not stood up to federal enforcement officials or the military as they probably should have on many counts.

    Part of the reason they have failed many Americans is no doubt fear of political repercussions because many other Americans will tolerate these laws that don’t appear to hurt them too much in exchanged for perceived security from “vast evilness”.