April 5, 2005 12:45 PM PDT

Feds uncloak the Patriot Act

More information is dribbling out about the exercise of extraordinary powers granted to federal police nearly four years ago as part of the war on terror.

As the Bush administration this week called on Congress to expand the USA Patriot Act, it disclosed how two of the most controversial sections of the law have been wielded by police.

Police invoked the Patriot Act when surreptitiously entering and searching a home or office without notifying the owner 108 times during a 22-month period, according to a one-page summary released by the Justice Department late Monday. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Senate that police have employed secret court orders to obtain records 35 times so far.

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What's new:
As the Bush administration this week called on Congress to expand the Patriot Act, it disclosed that the section of the law permitting police to surreptitiously enter and search a home or office without notifying the owner has reportedly been used 108 times during a 22-month period.

Bottom line:
Because the Patriot Act has scores of sections, some politicians say that even more disclosure is needed during the congressional review of the law.

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But because the Patriot Act has scores of sections--only 16 are set to expire on Dec. 31--some politicians are saying that even more disclosure is needed during the congressional review of the law over the next few months.

"We have heard over and over again that there have been no abuses as a result of the Patriot Act," Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, said during a hearing Tuesday. "But it is difficult, if not impossible, to verify that claim when some of the most controversial surveillance powers in the Patriot Act operate under a cloak of secrecy."

Increased calls for openness come as the Bush administration has taken unprecedented steps to limit public scrutiny of the executive branch. The number of classified documents has jumped since 2001, Freedom of Information Act disclosures have been curbed, and the wall of secrecy surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detention camp has drawn international condemnation. Open-government watchdog OMB Watch has said that Bush has "vastly expanded the zone of secrecy that surrounds the White House and most of the federal government."

Even though the Patriot Act was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of Congress in the month after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, some legislators voted for the measure with the understanding that key portions would be revisited in 2005. This week, the Senate and the House of Representatives are kicking off what promises to be a tumultuous series of hearings on the topic.

Both Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller on Tuesday warned the Senate that the expiring portions of the law must be renewed. Even though Gonzales said he was "open to any ideas that may be offered for improving these provisions," he stressed that any changes should be modest.

Mueller adopted a more aggressive tone, arguing that without the

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10 comments

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Ben Franklin said it best
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little
security will deserve neither and lose both.
Benjamin Franklin
Posted by DemiHampster (29 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are correct
Unfortunately, most Americans have no clue about their own history let alone the history of the world. Someday we will wake and wonder what happened and how big brother got to be so big and mean...and it will be completely our own fault for being asleep.
Posted by aroyce (28 comments )
Link Flag
Little
Depends on your definition of the word I suppose. Even so, using 200 year old quotes to reflect on today is a bit suspect. Who knows what an impressive man like Benjamin Franklin would think of todays world?
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah but.....
In this case, it is the INDIVIDUAL that is giving up a little liberty, in order for SOCIETY to gain a little security.

Having spent the first 2/3rds of my life in England, before spending the last 1/3rd of my life in the US & becoming a (proud) first generation American, I have noticed many people placing individual freedoms ahead of the best interests of society. There are times when you just gotta take one for the team.

That having been said, I think the "Patriot" Act is a clusterfork.
Posted by (409 comments )
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Scary
That a federal agency could use measures that goes against everything the constitution and bill of rights stands for is more scary then 1000 wannabe bin ladens.
Posted by pcLoadLetter (395 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I love the Patriot Act.
I love the Patriot Act. I say this of my own free will. I love the Patriot Act. I say this of my own free will. I love the Patriot Act. I say this of my own free will. I love the Patriot Act. I say this of my own free will. I say this of my own free will. I say this of my own free will.

In loyalty to the state I am.....

NWLB ;)
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.NWLBnet.blogspot.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.NWLBnet.blogspot.com</a>
Posted by NWLB (326 comments )
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Raymond, Listen To Me
Raymond. Let's play a game of solitaire. What card do I have in my hand here? The Queen of Hearts. The Queen of Hearts. The Queen of Hearts.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Link Flag
Disinformation Is A Much Bigger Problem
The insertion of disinformation into all media via planted stories, anonymous leaks, and reporters on the payroll is a much bigger problem. If you control the access points -- the gatekeepers, you control everything. This has been going on for a very long time here, it's down to a science.

Recently, ABC News ran a special on UFOs. The most useful thing they reported is that Project Blue Book was hatched to explictly discredit any and all UFO stories. There was a pretense of objectivity, by finally even Hynek figured out what a sham it was. He was paid for 20 years to explain away everything unexplainable as swamp gas or weather balloons.

Then of course there is the recent massive Iraq WMD deception. We are supposed to believe that it was all just a mistake by incompetant Intell bureacrats. Leading up to the war, there were estimates from Intell that Iraq had "thousands of tons" of chemical weapons. Think of it. Thousands of tons.

Makes you long for the days of Nixon, when crooks were REAL men.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
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