With a second round of attempted terror attacks in London on their minds, the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday night approved 16 expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, making 14 of them permanent and extending two of the most controversial provisions for ten years.
The USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005 passed by a vote of 257-171, with 43 Democrats joining Republicans. (Fourteen Republicans voted against the bill.)
This is the same kind of post-terror panic that prompted the legislature to overwhelmingly pass the "PATRIOT" Act in the first place, effectively creating a loophole around the Constitution and allowing the "authorities" to stomp on our rights.
This is one of the few times in my life you will find me agreeing with Nancy Pelosi, who stated, "I listened intently to the gentleman from Virginia, [Rep. Rich Boucher (D-Va.], when he described in detail the serious constitutional issues concerning Section 505...by which the government possesses power to seize citizens' medical and other personal records without notice, without the ability to challenge these orders, and without meaningful time limitations. And for this reason, I will join Mr. Boucher in opposing this legislation, but with the hope that it will be improved in conference."
There are other questionable and barely constitutional provisions in this legislation. For a more in-depth analysis, check out an article I did a few years ago, describing the slow, systematic death of the Bill of Rights.
One of my favorite novels describes the concept of terrorism in very precise terms. "Quite simply, the goal of terrorism is to create terror and fear. Fear undermines faith in the establishment. It weakens the enemy from within … causing unrest in the masses. ...Terrorism is not an expression of rage. Terrorism is a political weapon. Remove a government’s façade of infallibility, and you remove its people’s faith.”
This is exactly what the terrorists around the world are doing. They are inciting panic, causing governments such as ours to clamp down on the citizens, to destroy their rights and freedoms -- all in the name of appearing a bit less ineffective and powerless than they really are.
The "authorities" are fighting terrorism with smoke and mirrors.
If, in fact, the goal of terrorism is to destroy the populace's faith in the government's power to protect the people and cause unrest from within, those in power are simply trying to create the illusion that tyrannical measures such as the "PATRIOT" Act allow them to better protect the people.
In fact, all they're doing is turning America into a minimum security prison.