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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/23/11

Extending Key Patriot Act Provisions

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Extending Key Patriot Act Provisions - by Stephen Lendman

On October 13, 2001 New York Times writers Robin Toner and Neil Lewis headlined, "A NATION CHALLENGED: CONGRESS; House Passes Terrorism Bill Much Like Senate's, but With 5-Year Limit," saying:

The House gave "the government broad new powers for the wiretapping, surveillance and investigation of terrorism suspects. But in recognition of many lawmakers' fears of the potential for government overreaching and abuse, the House also included a five-year limit after which many of those powers would expire."

On October 26, George Bush signed it into law, prompting Center for Constitutional Rights senior litigation attorney Nancy Chang to ask, "What's So Patriotic About Trampling on the Bill of Rights?" saying:

"Over vigorous objections from civil liberties organizations on both ends of the political spectrum, Congress overwhelmingly approved the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, better known by its acronym, the USA PATRIOT Act."

In fact, the legislative process capitalized on a window of hysteria to grant unchecked executive powers. In the process, however, key Bill of Rights protections were lost or seriously eroded for the sake of security, including:

-- Fifth and Fourteen Amendment due process rights by permitting indefinite detentions of undocumented immigrants that can now apply to anyone anywhere in the world, including US citizens for any reason or none at all.  

-- First Amendment freedom of association rights that the Supreme Court considers an essential part of free expression. Now anyone may be charged and prosecuted for their alleged association with an "undesirable group."

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