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Patriot Act Up For Renewal, Nobody Notices 463

Ponca City, We Love You writes "When the Patriot Act was first signed in 2001, it was billed as a temporary measure required because of the extreme circumstances created by the terrorist threat. The fear from its opponents was that executive power, once given, is seldom relinquished. Now the Examiner reports that on January 5th, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) introduced a bill to add yet another year to the soon-to-be-expiring Patriot Act, extending it until February, 2012, with passage likely to happen after little debate or contention. If passed, this would be the second time the Obama administration has punted on campaign promises to roll back excessive surveillance measures allowed under the act. Last year's extension passed under the heading of the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act. 'Given the very limited number of days Congress has in session before the current deadline, and the fact that the bill's Republican sponsor is only seeking another year, I think it's safe to read this as signaling an agreement across the aisle to put the issue off yet again,' writes Julian Sanchez."
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Patriot Act Up For Renewal, Nobody Notices

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  • He could always... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:19PM (#34881476) Homepage Journal

    Veto it.

    • But he... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:23PM (#34881526) Homepage
      • Re:But he... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:35PM (#34881678) Homepage Journal
        I wonder what would happen if every single Slashdot user, U.S. citizen or not, wrote a letter to President Obama that basically said something along the lines of,

        "President Obama,

        I understand a bill extending the Patriot Act is currently being voted on in Congress. The Patriot Act was supposed to be a temporary measure introduced to increase the security of America. If this bill passes, please veto it on behalf of the American citizenry. It is time to end this nonsense. Don't make excuses.

        Thank You,
        [name signed here]"

        Would anyone even notice? Would he comment on it? Here's the mailing address:

        The White House
        1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
        Washington, DC 20500
        • Re:But he... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by anarkhos ( 209172 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:39PM (#34881732)

          Obama voted to renew the USA PATRIOT Act while he was still a Senator. It was one of the few things he even took a side on.

          All this means is people who voted for Obama were ignorant rubes who couldn't do something as simple as checking a voting record — even one as short as Obama's!

          • Re:voted (Score:5, Funny)

            by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:45PM (#34881822) Journal

            No, we decided that if we were going to be oppressed, we could at least bask in the small luxury of complete sentences.

        • Would anyone even notice? Would he comment on it? Here's the mailing address:

          The White House
          1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
          Washington, DC 20500

          A mailing address that changes all the rules.

        • by jovius ( 974690 )
          In a democracy it's typical that people publically oppose rules they don't like. It's a sign of a functioning democracy when letters are being sent. The protests are part of the package, and everyone is happy. Sign-makers sell signs and slogans to all of the parties, and leaders can claim what great democracy we have where people can freely protest. In essence it has become an empty facade.

          Nothing really happens until the people are in the streets revolting and destroying property.
        • by macraig ( 621737 )

          The White House also has a convenient Web contact form []. How about this?

          Dear President Obama:

          During your Presidential campiagn, you made a specific promise to reform the Patriot Act. I quote from an official campaign document:

          "Revise the PATRIOT Act. Barack Obama believes that we must provide law
          enforcement the tools it needs to investigate, disrupt, and capture terrorists, but he
          also believes we need real oversight to avoid jeopardizing the rights

        • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:31PM (#34886108) Homepage Journal

          When Obama was elected, he had a website, basically "hey citizens, tell us what you want!" The most popular thing on that site, bar none, by huge margins, was the legalization of marijuana. You know what Obama did? He laughed it off. He mentioned it, but specifically said the only reason he was mentioning it was because he wanted us to know it wasn't going to happen.

          That's what happens when the public makes its will clearly known.

          This is not a democracy. This is a corporatist republic. Once you fully understand that, you'll stop wasting your time writing letters.

    • Meet the new boss - same as the old boss.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by spun ( 1352 )

        Back when Bush enacted this monstrosity, I remember warning conservatives that it wouldn't just go away, that someday, an evil DEMONCRAT would have that power. They just scoffed. Vindication sucks sometimes.

    • by Stargoat ( 658863 ) * <> on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:25PM (#34881566) Journal

      Obama would never do such a thing. If any even mild terrorist action occurred, it would be shouted from the rafters. It would sound something like this: "Hussein did not keep us safe. Or show us his birth certificate. In fact, the reason why he vetoed PATRIOT Act is because he is a secret Muslim terrorist who will bring down the United States and all Christians with his terrorist fist bump." Or something like that.

      Obama clearly doesn't have the political courage to repeal PATRIOT, but neither would McCain, Palin, Biden, or really anyone aside from the Pauls. Which is unfortunate because PATRIOT is an awful piece of legislation that does nothing to keep us safe, but rather does the opposite by eroding our liberties.

      • Sooner to be free with a small 1 in billion odds of death-by-terrorist vs. a 1-1 certainty of being spied upon.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by el3mentary ( 1349033 )

          Sooner to be free with a small 1 in billion odds of death-by-terrorist vs. a 1-1 certainty of being spied upon.

          1 in a billion, methinks you don't understand statistics.

          • You have a good argument that, say, for a typical US resident P(killed by a terrorist) << 1e-9?

          • 1) He's off by a factor of 50, which while not great, is still orders of magnitude better than the 1:1 odds of being spied upon that he quotes. Even if both stats are off by a factor of 50, the point still stands; or
            2) He's engaging in the ancient and time-honored art of hyperbole [], in which case his point STILL stands.
        • by Stargoat ( 658863 ) * <> on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:36PM (#34881706) Journal

          No disagreement from me. But the political reality is that Obama, Bush, Palin, McCain, and pretty much everyone else in Washington doesn't give a fig newton for your civil liberties if compromising them gets the politician elected.

        • Sooner to be free with a small 1 in billion odds of death-by-terrorist

          So 7 people died from terrorism this year?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by alvinrod ( 889928 )
        I've always thought the birth certificate thing was a stroke of genius from Obama's political advisors. They could have easily provided a real birth certificate years ago and disproven the whole thing, but they didn't. They know that the far right are going to bitch about something, so why not have it be about something that isn't going to resonate with anyone else? If Obama pulled out a birth certificate, they'd just move on to something else that might actually hold water with people outside of their own
        • by SpryGuy ( 206254 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:42PM (#34881776)

          Interesting theory... except for the fact that Obama's birth certificat has been produced, a copy is available on-line, and its validity has been repeatedly verified by the state of Hawaii.

          It's more accurate to say that those right-wing nutters (and racists) will not be persuaded from their tin-hat conspiracy theories by anything as pesky as facts. They cling to it tenatiously, regardless.

          • There's also his birth announcement from a Honolulu newspaper. This is not an 'official' document, but it's a hell of a lot harder to forge, since you have no idea how many copies of that paper are floating around in libraries or people's basements.

            Of course, it's entirely possible that the announcement referred to some other newborn. "Barack Hussein Obama" is a pretty common name.

        • Fascinating. That makes a lot of sense.

      • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:45PM (#34881826) Homepage Journal

        All of those things and more will be shouted from the rafters no matter what he does. He could single handedly create a lasting utopia for all on earth and there will still be some wingnut screaming that he's not really an American and it's all a trick.

      • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:47PM (#34881844) Homepage

        I can think of other politicians who would have that kind of courage: Russ Feingold (who had the courage to vote against it to begin with), Bernie Sanders (listen to him talk, you'll see exactly why), Dennis Kucinich (who's also been against it all along, and has taken tougher stands before), and Ralph Nader.

        The thing is, those guys are all seen as dangerous by the Democratic and Republican Party leadership, so their chance of getting elected president is basically nil.

        • The reason why they won't be elected is because most Americans, for better or for worse, happen to think that the Patriot Act is a splendid idea if somebody tells them that it will make them safe.

          If it were just a matter of the political elite that was stirring this up there would be a revolution. The problem is that a lot of people seem to like to have the high power distance structures which have marked American society for generations, and they are scared to actually have full access to the things tha
        • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @05:31PM (#34883256)
          And of course Russ Feingold is no longer a Senator, having lost his bid for re-election.

          I'm sure you knew that, but it certainly bears mention as he was the only senator to vote against Patriot in the first place.

    • Not if 2/3 of the congress votes for it. But that's not the issue as he clearly does not want to veto it anyway.

  • I noticed yesterday when it was published in another news source.

    All of Slashdot noticed today obviously.

    Quit acting like nobody noticed or the politicians might start to think they can get away with nobody noticing.

  • That deaf-dumb-blind kid, sure could play a mean pinball.

    Ha, bet you thought I was gonna say "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss", didn't you?

  • More unconstitutional drivel from our elected body. I guess reading the constitution isn't doing them a bit of good.

    • They could make it all constitutional by adding a constitutional amendment. I propose they call it the "1984 Amendment."

      • That would be the legal way to do it. Frankly I'm surprised they haven't done it yet. I guess no PAC has decided to push the issue.

        • That would be the legal way to do it. Frankly I'm surprised they haven't done it yet.

          The day Congress decides to pass an Amendment is the day they collectively realize they're bound by what the Constitution says. So, yeah, it won't ever happen.

  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:23PM (#34881538)

    Why is anyone surprised that Patriot act has bipartisan support? At the time it was passed all Democrat senators voted for it except for one (Feingold) and he is not in senate anymore. Democrats always supported the act, just like the Republicans did. Obama has renewed it regularly since so its a safe bet that he would have voted for it had he been in senate at the time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:24PM (#34881546)

    Let's not forget his promise to shut down Guantanamo and to end the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy.

  • What Does It mean (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    When Obama and the Democrats didn't repeal it when they had all the power, and now, when they seemingly won't object to its renewal, does that mean they are hypocrites? Does it also mean that they actually tacitly approve of it?

    For all the noise and whining that's been made about it by their constituents , the Dems sure have been quiet about it.

    When the people you hate (republicans) and the people you love (Democrats) seem to be of like mind on something like this, is it time to consider that you are on the

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:26PM (#34881576) Homepage Journal
    we talk about how unworkable, public-enemy the system in america has become. and say that wikileaks exposes stuff like these, and it is necessary. whoops -> mod down to oblivion. uncomfortable truth better not heard.

    and when we call on americans, some of you come up saying that not all americans are the same, some of you actually see what's going on, and aware of how things really are. ok. well. nice.

    however, you have to do that, BEFORE being called out. if, you dont speak, and instead let the most loud voice that speaks be of irrationality and make-believe, it means that you are basically leaving the arena to such minded people.

    when the wise dont speak, fools have the day.
    • Do you not see news of protests? What in the world makes you think some people aren't mindful already? The problem is our system was accidentally designed to support the will of those with the most money to fund campaigns and fill pockets rather than the people.

      • It doesn't seem at all to be an accident that a system designed by the rich would benefit the rich!

        • I don't think the intention of the founding fathers was to build a system where political action committees funded by corporations (mostly) had all of the say in politics. So to answer your question, it does seem to be.

      • by SpryGuy ( 206254 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:48PM (#34881860)

        Most of the protests weren't covered, or were downplayed.

        I've seen protests with 20,000 or more be completely ignored by the media, while a few hundred Tea Party morons gathering in one spot with their misspelled signs gets wall to wall coverage for an entire weekend.

        Yeah, no media bias here (and I'm not just talking about FOX News, by any stretch of the imagination).

        • In defense of that, the Tea Party protests were 1) huge, 2) sensationalist, 3) current topics.

          FOX covered them to promote the cause, all the others covered them to poke fun and defang them.

  • How Long until (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:31PM (#34881622)
    How long until they set it up so it's "extended for another year" renewal bill becomes automatically passed if it isn't voted down?
    They've done it on other things. It's a scam where they can refuse to vote, it automatically passes, and they can claim they didn't vote for it.

    It's going to take a lot of people to metaphorically kick them in the balls repeatedly until they get the idea that maybe that nazi act needs to be retired before they'll do it.
    • RIAA can help with this.
      Subscribe to the Patriot club! We will keep sending you yearly issues until you cancel!

  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:31PM (#34881624)

    I love the way US laws are given these cheesy, sometimes forced, acronyms.

    I think you guys are doing yourself a disservice as they seem to dumb down the often complex debates and arguments covered by these acts, and force folk into simplistic positions based on the naming of the acts. It must be hard to argue against a PATRIOT act: most people don't want to appear 'unpatriotic'.

    I am guessing there are civil servants paid to make up some of these acronyms, some of them must have taken some thinking! ("Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001" - impressive!).


    • Yep, it's all in the name. It's the PATRIOT Act. You want to be a PATRIOT don't you??

      Same thing with the ridiculous "Job-Killing Healthcare Law Repeal Act" or whatever they're calling it. You don't want to KILL JOBS do you???

      It's in the name, so it must be true, right?

    • by Xelios ( 822510 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:54PM (#34881930)
      Almost as good as the fact that the PATRIOT act was extended under the "Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act", a topic that has absolutely nothing to do with the PATRIOT act in the first place.

      Fucking hilarious really.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:34PM (#34881674) Journal
    is a mandatory sunset date on every bill that they sign into law. A year wouldn't be bad. A year would give legal scholars and the public (and maybe even congress itself ,... nah wait for it...... hahahahaha) a chance to review it to see if it actually works.
    • That would require them showing up for work and working, all year long. Are you nuts?

    • is a mandatory sunset date on every bill that they sign into law. A year wouldn't be bad. A year would give legal scholars and the public (and maybe even congress itself ,... nah wait for it...... hahahahaha) a chance to review it to see if it actually works.

      Even two years would be tolerable. That way, you could vote out the congress if you didn't like the laws, and the new gang coming in would have to decide if their political careers were worth it.

    • by adwarf ( 1002867 )
      It would also have a nice benefit that if they passed too many laws they would spend all their time renewing existing laws and be unable to create more. Of course, they would just bundle all the laws together and pass them at once and then nothing would ever be reviewed and it would just be some quick automatic thing they did at the beginning of the next year.
  • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:42PM (#34881788)

    The PATRIOT Act is here to stay. There is NO WAY the Federal Government is going to willingly give up all the powers it granted them.

    Of all the stupid things that happened during the Bush years, that is by far the most damaging. And it's going to take a Congress and a President with a hell of a lot more spine to repeal it. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

  • step by step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @03:44PM (#34881810)

    "What no one seemed to notice... was the ever widening gap... between the government and the people. The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway... and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that... one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. But the one great shocking occasion... never comes. That's the difficulty." - Milton Mayer (1908-1986) journalist and educator, writing about the Nazi takeover of Germany from the point of view of the average citizen, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1938-45

    Americans seem to fall into these categories:

    The rich - they don't care about justice or injustice, just money
    The poor - they may care but they have no power
    The oblivious - they're busy watching American Idol and eating pizza
    The middle class - they're just trying to maintain or looking for work

    "What keeps most Americans from being shocked by the shredding of the Bill of Rights is that they have yet to feel the consequences, either personally or through someone close to them. It would appear, however, that they only have to wait." - William Blum

  • There has not been much serious abuse of the law since it was created. While the potential for that abuse is still there I have not seen convincing evidence that the innocent have been terribly harassed because of this act. The war is still on. Numerous attacks have been foiled in the last several years primarily due to good intelligence. I hope someday that we will again live in a world where these laws are not needed, but I don't think that day has come.
  • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:06PM (#34883880) Journal
    problem with "democracy" is that it really just ends up meaning the ones with the most money, win. All you have to do is convince more gullible sheep than the other person running, and bam - there you are. Sure, sure, it's really just how we've implemented democracy, not democracy itself that is a problem...except, I disagree. There is no way to have the common man make wise, intelligent decisions that are good for themselves. They want instant gratification. The common man has as much business deciding on budgets, long term goals, etc as a 5yo child does in a household - let the parents/adults make those decisions, kktnx.
    What economy has been growing at an astronomical speed? The one that is able to make quick and intelligent decisions (China) without worrying about the people it harms. There's a happy medium between the two things...and that happy medium was what we originally had; a system where only the educated could vote. Was it perfect? Hell know, but at least it wasn't farking stupid like the crap we have now. I've never understood why people so readily accept the brainwashing that democracy is the only right way...think about how horrible medical science would be if we let the "common man" make decisions about how to do treatments, what procedures would be most respected, etc. Think about how successful medicine would be if any actor, random dude on the street, or whatnot could suddenly declare themselves a surgeon.
    There is a certain skillset and personality to being a real, honest politician. One that has little to do with reading polls daily. We'll never get that back here - ever. C'est la vie, I guess.
  • Mr President (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mgns ( 934567 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:57PM (#34885860)
    Mr President When you swore to close Guantanamo, I wept. The pure vindication of my life long love for America seemed finally vindicated. You swore a return to sanity, to justice and peace. You swore an oath to your countrymen with such passion that they entrusted upon you the highest office. Your treachery is boundless.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.