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The Real Threat of The Patriot Act. How it undermines the Constitution!

By sleepin'dawg ·
This concerns the USA PATRIOT Act, a U.S. law about which most of us are ignorant and is not widely understood. You need to understand it because this Act could have a major impact on you -- and on your wealth. Try to learn more about The Patriot Act, it's not very easy because it is spread out all over the place. The link below can get you started. You may find it interesting, to say the least.

THREE QUESTIONS

Consider these serious questions, the answers to which could determine what happens to your cash, your investments and, ultimately -- to you and your family:

1) If you are a U.S. citizen or resident of the United States, and you have an account at a bank, do you know the name of your banker?

2) Do you know the name of even one official that works at the bank where your accounts are kept?

3) If all the cash in your bank account suddenly was frozen, who would you call? What would you do? How would you get it unfrozen?

Chances are, if you're like most Americans (and like me), you don't have answers to these questions. Even if you have a private banker whom you know well, what I am about to say still applies to you -- even more so, since you probably have greater wealth involved.

But your banker -- whether you know him or not -- knows everything about you and your finances -- and he and his staff are watching your every move -- because the U.S. government forces bankers to act as spies, reporting on you, on all of us, to the federal money police at the U.S. Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCen).

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

A national crisis, such as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, immediately encourages a 'do something' reaction in politicians of every stripe. The greater the crisis, the swifter -- and more unthinking -- the solution politicians concoct.

At such times, a herd mentality takes hold that overcomes logic and reason. Having served eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives, I can attest first hand to this dangerous political phenomenon. Just six weeks after the September 11th attacks, on October 26, 2001, a panicked U.S. Congress adopted the so-called 'USA PATRIOT Act.'

The PATRIOT Act became law with great haste and secrecy. In the name of the 'war on terrorism,' Congress passed this questionable legislation giving the U.S. executive branch and its police agencies sweeping new powers that undermine the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Act (all 362 pages of it) was passed with little debate by senators and congressmen, most of whom did not, and could not even read the bill, because when the final vote was taken, no printed copies were available.

In my opinion, the Act constitutes the greatest single governmental assault on personal and financial privacy in U.S. history. Already three U.S. district courts have ruled parts of the Act to be unconstitutional.

The Act is being used for purposes that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism undefined but everything to do with unchecked police surveillance, wiretapping and secret searches of homes and offices. Fully 125 pages of this Act concern individual financial activities as well as U.S. and offshore banking and finance.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?

The PATRIOT Act permits:

* secret FBI and police searches of your home and office

* secret government wiretaps on your phone, computer and/or Internet activity

* secret investigations of your bank records, credit cards and other financial records

* secret investigations of your library and book activities

* secret examination of your medical, travel and business records.

* the freezing of funds and assets without prior notice or appeal

* the creation of secret 'watch lists' that ban those named from air and other travel

You may think you are immune from these radical police powers - but as many innocent Americans have discovered, anyone can be caught in the government's unthinking surveillance web -- with little or no judicial review or appeal.

In 2004, in the same week that the New York City Council voted to condemn the PATRIOT Act, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll found that while most Americans back the anti-terrorism ideas behind the Act, they are not only confused, but woefully ignorant of the provisions of the law and how it is being administered.

What can you do about this??? How can we protect ourselves??? It would be interesting to hear what others here are aware of and are thinking about. The Patriot Act was born out of a dire need to protect the USA from any further threats of terrorism but has it gone too far??? If so, what should be done to correct the potential abuses of it??? Or are we going to respond only with apathy to the potential stripping away of all our freedoms and rights???

Here are a couple of links to help people learn more of what The USA Patriot Act is and you can learn about the potential threats to your freedom, especially the risks to your personal wealth, regardless of whether you have lots or little. How would feel if all your assets were frozen by some whim of a governmental official who has mistakenly targetted you as a terrorist. There have been horror stories of people's assets being mistakenly frozen in the past, over supposed drug dealing and money laundering, because of mistakes made through a mix up of names. The potential threat now is even worse because the scope has broadened and the agencies have been given even broader powers.

http://www.usgov.com/index.php?show=Department+of+justice%2C+laws%2C+the+USA+patriot+act&rsr=sf&submit=Search

http://uscis.gov/graphics/lawsregs/patriot.pdf

Dawg]:)

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how much I make and when I go pee

by jck In reply to The Real Threat of The Pa ...

I don't care if the government knows that.

I think when it is used to harass or intimidate Americans (I bold that on purpose), then there is something very wrong with the system.

Why is that? Because in every other part of government, there is a system of checks and balances. The Patriot Act gives more discretional freedom to law enforcement to do as they wish under the guise of "patriotism" and "fighting terrorism", and it essentially restricts how their power can be "checked" and "balanced".

I fear it more being used to coerce people rather than to know their financial records.

Anyways, I don't care if any of you know how much I make...might be embarassed cause I work in government and don't make what I did in private sector. But, I earn a decent living without screwing people over and treating them bad.

That's what matters to me, cause I have a conscience.

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The I don't care if they know attitude,

by faradhi In reply to how much I make and when ...

Is what disturbs me. I care if law enforcement knows more about me than my family. My wife is the only one who knows how much I make.

Jck, you are not alone. Apathy about the patriot act is rampant. I feel that is the most dangerous part of the whole situation. The law makers see we accepted this and will go for more. If one thing is true about the government is that they always want more.

The other statement that drives me batty is, "If it keeps me safe, then I will give up some of my civil liberties." IMHO, that is cowardice. I for one would rather have the gun to my head.(Yes I have had a gun to my head. Incidentally did you know that a 9mm looks like a cannon when it is three inches from your head? But I digress. :))

Unfortunately in a free society, we must accept certain risks. Those risks include that one day some American that has no prior criminal record may go off his/her rocker and kill a lot of people with a bomb. And just because we might have been able to stop it by violating the persons civil liberties does not mean we should. I would rather my children die with freedom than live with tyranny.

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I agree. We have to be vigilant.

by stress junkie In reply to The I don't care if they ...

I wrote a very similar position essay in another recent TR discussion so I won't go into depth here. It's clear that we have to be on guard against people who would undermine our Constitution for some real or imaginary benefit. I believe Ben Franklin said that anyone who would give up some liberty to gain some security deserves neither.

A lot of people have died or otherwise suffered in order to protect our form of government. When we willingly allow the government to undermine the Constitution we make a mockery of the sacrifices made to preserve it.

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whether its legal or constitutional

by jck In reply to I agree. We have to be vi ...

I'm not sure either way...I'm not an attorney.

I just don't mind them *collecting* the info, as that can serve to determine what things might be happening that are not "normal".

It's when that information is dispersed or used in a manner not in accordance of its purpose to discern possible threats...then I have an issue.

Personally if they want to know how much I make, I bet they have a process to get it from the IRS. That's why it doesn't bother me.

I believe in right to privacy, protection against illegal search and seizure, etc. I just don't have a bit of care of what people know about me...other than my phone number, home address, etc. And, I expect anyone I give that info to should keep it in confidence.

If the government was to go publishing my personal contact information in a public forum, then I'd take it to heart.

Anyways...not telling anyone how to feel about it...I am just not that worried if someone knows I make a mid 5-figure salary, that I'm almost 6'6, that I hate my line of work, or that I'm currently in the process of working on my house to sell it.

Cheers...

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The real threat of the Patriot Act is. . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to The Real Threat of The Pa ...

..... from people who either don't understand it, or from people who misrepresent what it is, what it does, what it's intended to do, what it has done, and what it will do.

Ignorance works both ways, you know. And I have yet to see one legitimate claim from an American who has been harmed, spied on, or otherwise injured in any way whatsoever.

"Undermines the constitution"? Please, spare me the dramatics. I expect more from you, dawg. You're sleepin' on this one.

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Perhaps I am but the potential for abuse exists. There should be safeguards

by sleepin'dawg In reply to The real threat of the Pa ...

You do realize there is a provision for in camera court proceedings??? Even the findings of guilty or innocent are classified. The fact your assets can be frozen in an instant, in error and the proceedings to get them back can take years, bothers me. That happened to a few people who were mistakenly targetted by the DEA and though acquitted and the mistake admitted and an apology given, it still took over six months to reclaim their property. So far it hasn't happened under the Patriot Act as far as anyone knows but I bet it is only a matter of time. As long as I'm not mistakenly targetted, I really don't care but the fact that I might be, is cause for concern. I don't want the act scrapped, far from it, I want it improved so nobody innocent gets mistakenly caught up in it. Anyway I'm glad my name doesn't sound foreign.

BTW were you able to answer the three questions to your satifaction???

Dawg ]:)

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So what you are saying is...

by faradhi In reply to The real threat of the Pa ...

that we have to wait for an abuse to happen before we can say the act has the potential for abuse?

How about we change the way we work as a society for once be proactive. We see the potential for abuse. Let's modify the system just a little to mitigate the potential. I know, I know. That is just crazy talk. Being how I am 'merican and should just tow the line on anything that supposedly protects 'mericans.

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I hate it when. . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to So what you are saying is ...

....people start a rebuttal by suggesting, "so what you are saying is....". It means that people presume to put words in my mouth, stretch my comments to suggest something absurd, and so on.

What I am saying, to answer your question, is exactly what I said. No more, no less. If you would like to explore some "therefore what" conclusions, I'd be happy to do just that.

But all too often, especially around here, I've been faced with a reply that started by someone suggesting, "so what you are saying is..., and then they state something that I did not say or imply, and they argue against that. My reply might be to naturally argue back to defend something that I did not say in the first place.

So please rephrase your comments. Ask specific questions asking for clarification. But please don't rephrase or stretch what I said.

I will say this, however. Every law we have in America has the potential for abuse. So what you are saying is that we should not have any laws because they all have the potential for abuse? (Sarcasm intended to further make my point.)

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Ok fine.

by faradhi In reply to I hate it when. . . . .

Here is what you said. "I have yet to see one legitimate claim from an American who has been harmed, spied on, or otherwise injured in any way whatsoever."

So what are you trying to say about the patriot act with that statement.

I understand it to mean that you do believe that the patriot act is fine as is because those with oppose the patriot act cannot find one instance where the government has abused it.

If I am mistaken I am sorry please clarify.

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Let me use an analogy and set the premise.

by maxwell edison In reply to Ok fine.

I believe, as I said in a different message, that the primary function of the American government is to protect its citizens from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. And I further believe that we have to allow some latitude to our government to do just that. How can we possibly expect the government to protect its citizens from "domestic enemies" if we deny them the capability to look for them?

Just as we have to suffer through the inconvenience of the occasional DUI checkpoint, we might have to also allow "domestic enemy" checkpoints to facilitate those efforts. And so far, I've never seen a sober citizen arrested at a DUI checkpoint, just like I've never seen a harmless citizen arrested at a "domestic enemy" checkpoint.

If we want to keep drunk drivers off our streets, we have to put up with the efforts to facilitate that desired end result. And if we want to keep domestic enemies off our streets, likewise, we have to put up with the efforts to facilitate that desired end result. If either one of those efforts proves to having been abused and/or the government authorities prove to overstep their bounds, then the system is such that we can reign it back in. It may not be perfect, and not everyone will like it, but that's the way our system works; and on balance, it works pretty well.

See my other message about my doubts as to the intentions of those who were the driving force behind the opposition to begin with, combine it with what I said in this message, and perhaps you'll understand my position a little better.

I will say this, however. The mere fact that a lot of people oppose such a program is the very thing that prevents it from being abused. That's why I will never rest until we no longer have to suffer through the indignity of those intrusive DUI checkpoints. I don't care how many drunk drivers are out there; I don't want my rights and privacy infringed upon.

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