The Electric Commentary

Friday, May 28, 2004


Apparently the PR department at the white house was off buying velvet fabric to cover up naked statues the day the USA Patriot Act was introduced because of all of the things wrong with it, the name is the most serious.

People fear and revile the USA Patriot Act even though most can not tell you what it does. It primarily does two (2) things.

1. Allows for information sharing between the CIA, which only has jurisdiction over foreign matters, and the FBI, which only has jurisdiction over national matters. Before the Patriot Act, if something was classified in the CIA, the FBI could not get it. This led to the absurd conclusion that if you were suspected of international terrorism, all that you had to do to get off of the CIA's radar was move to the US! Now the FBI and CIA share files freely, although there is still room for a great deal of intelligence reform.

2. Allows for wire-tapping and surveillance of suspected terrorists equal to that which can be carried out against organized crime. Basically, Tony Soprano = Osama Bin Laden.

That's pretty much it. It doesn't allow for any special detention of US citizens. That, the president came up with on his own. It does allow the government to get some suspect warrants for medical records, and many other public records. While these are legitimate privacy concerns, these provisions should just be removed, leaving the rest of the act intact.

But who decided to call this the Patriot Act? What has it to do with Patriotism? Many, many, many people get very upset, and justifiably so, when their patriotism is questioned. Many, many, many people also get scared when the government tries to justify suspect, oppressive laws by casting dissenters as anti-American communist Nazi sympathizers who like to kick puppies on the side. The very name, USA Patriot Act basically does this to half of the population.

Think about it. Would this law produce the vitriolic responses that it does if it was called the CIA-FBI Reconciliation Act, or the Terrorism Wiretapping And Surveillance Modification Act? Of course not. For one thing, newspeople would get sick of saying the name. But it would also clearly reflect the substance of the law. The name now is propaganda. It should have been informative. That way, those who questioned it, would have had to specify exactly what they were objecting to. Instead the good parts are lumped in with the bad, and needed anti-terrorism measures may eventually be repealed.

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Not if you called it fartweed.


  • USA PATRIOT Act = Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. The 'USA' part was what the Senate called it, 'PATRIOT' was what the House called it; they turned it into one bill after both had passed.

    Here's my problem with the PATRIOT I act: the several thousand people who have been placed in 'custody' without the benefit of a lawyer, or even access to family members - even though no criminal charges are filed against them.

    By Blogger Peter, at 4:47 PM  

  • But Pete,

    They are not US citizens. You forgot to mention that. Non-US citizens do not share the same rights as US citizens and with good reason. It's expensive. Hypothetically, this was possible before the act was ever enacted. I have some problem with this if a legal alien is subjected to it, but that's about it. There is even a check on that, as a legal alien will likely be missed.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 5:09 PM  

  • all human have human been..
    weekend jobs

    By Anonymous alex, at 9:08 PM  

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