Renewing the Patriot Act: Who Will Protect Us From Our Government?

by on May 28, 2011 · 4 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights

Thomas Paine wrote "Common Sense" - a call for revolution against King George. He used to drink a lot of rum, it is said.

“It is the responsibility of the patriot to protect his country from its government.” — Thomas Paine

Those who founded this country knew quite well that every citizen must remain vigilant or freedom would be lost. This is the true nature of a patriot — one who sounds the clarion call when the Constitution is under attack. If, on the other hand, the people become sheep-like, it will lead to a government of wolves. This is what we are faced with today as Congress marches in lockstep with the White House to renew the USA Patriot Act.

The Patriot Act drove a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights, violating at least six of the ten original amendments — the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments — and possibly the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well. The Patriot Act also redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities, such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience, were considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.

The Patriot Act justified broader domestic surveillance, the logic being that if government agents knew more about each American, they could distinguish the terrorists from law-abiding citizens — no doubt an earnest impulse shared by small-town police and federal agents alike. According to Washington Post reporter Robert O’Harrow, Jr., this was a fantasy that had “been brewing in the law enforcement world for a long time.” And 9/11 provided the government with the perfect excuse for conducting far-reaching surveillance and collecting mountains of information on even the most law-abiding citizen.

Suddenly, for the first time in American history, federal agents and police officers were authorized to conduct black bag “sneak-and-peek” searches of homes and offices and confiscate your personal property without first notifying you of their intent or their presence. The law also granted the FBI the right to come to your place of employment, demand your personal records and question your supervisors and fellow employees, all without notifying you; allowed the government access to your medical records, school records and practically every personal record about you; and allowed the government to secretly demand to see records of books or magazines you’ve checked out in any public library and Internet sites you’ve visited (at least 545 libraries received such demands in the first year following passage of the Patriot Act.)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

barbara May 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm

We must now, more than ever, look out for each other. SD Veterans for Peace, much community involvement including homeless outreach. They need help tomorrow at 8AM at Midway Museum setting up crosses. I feel better knowing they are active and holding government accountable all the time.


Old Hermit Dave May 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm

As long as legal age Americans are willing to line up and get wrist banded to have a beer behind a fenced in area, take off their shoes and be treated like a terrorist to fly back to see grandma, believe in government fairy tales about Muslim men taking over their country, not much will ever change.


David May 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Privacy rights were lost a lot sooner than the Patriot Act. Under the war on drugs, if local law enforcement found evidence of possession of a few ounces of marijuana, the arresting officer got a portion of the suspect’s assets.

Why was there no concern then?


Owkrender May 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Paine and other Revolutionary figures were against “taxation without representation.” Later in life, Paine specifically proposed taxation in order to provide citizens with a guaranteed annual income and, in addition, old-age pensions (Agrarian Justice, 1797). Point is, the Patriot Act was renewed “with representation.” It is therefore up to us to protect ourselves against the government–via the ballot box.


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