Thursday, August 21, 2003

Mr Ashcroft's roadshow

Much of the criticism of the law has been shrill and ill-informed. It doesn't, as former vice president Al Gore suggested in a recent speech, let federal agents troop "into every public library in America and secretly monitor what the rest of us are reading." Such information can be gathered only in cases of national security, and with a warrant.

Well which is it?
What it allcomes down to is Washington Post lies. It is ridiculous to me that the Post editorialists actually believe they can say one thing in one sentence and then contradict it in the next without their readers noticing. here is the ACLU fact sheet on the PATRIOT Act.
You will notice section 215 of PATRIOT:
Section 215 vastly expands the FBI's power to spy on ordinary people living in the United States, including United States citizens and permanent residents.
The FBI need not show probable cause, nor even reasonable grounds to believe, that the person whose records it seeks is engaged in criminal activity.
The FBI need not have any suspicion that the subject of the investigation is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.
The FBI can investigate United States persons based in part on their exercise of First Amendment rights, and it can investigate non-United States persons based solely on their exercise of First Amendment rights.
For example, the FBI could spy on a person because they don't like the books she reads, or because they don't like the web sites she visits. They could spy on her because she wrote a letter to the editor that criticized government policy.
Those served with Section 215 orders are prohibited from disclosing the fact to anyone else. Those who are the subjects of the surveillance are never notified that their privacy has been compromised.
If the government had been keeping track of what books a person had been reading, or what web sites she had been visiting, the person would never know.

In the next sentence, the Post says that Similarly, despite the Sturm und Drang over sneak-and-peak, such searches with delayed notification have been approved by judges for years, without noting that the House just passed legislation BANNING the PATRIOT Act's "sneak-n-peek" language. Why the Post, which was attacked often by the Nixon adminisitration and knows as well as anyone how the FBI and the CIA abused their domestic powers in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, defends a return to this type of surveillance is beyond me. Why they lie about it to their readers makes me nauseous.
I would warn anyone reading the Washington Post to be aware that their editorial writers lie and lie often. Their full-throated call to war, followed by weaseling columnists trying to back away after the shit hit the fan, is the case study in craven journalism.
Fuck the Washington Post.