USA Patriot Act: What is it?

On September 11, 2001, terrorist flew two large passenger airliners into the World Trade Center, while another airliner flew into the US Pentagon and yet another crashed into a field in western Pennsylvania. By October 26, 2001 a bi-partisan Congress had the “United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate tools required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA Patriot Act) Act of 2001,” ready for signing by the president.

Now can you imagine America in the wake of this horrible attack where almost three thousand people were killed and many others wounded, the most horrific attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, how vulnerable the collective consciousness of the American psychic would have been to any suggestion to set aside our Constitutionally protected laws and practices in exchange for more protection? In fact, the ease at which this Act was passed which under normal circumstances this bill would have likely died in committee would cause some conspiracy theorist to believe that maybe the 9-11 attack was no coincidence. However, that’s another story for another time.

Many on-line websites have described the Patriot Act as the perfect means of helping our law enforcement agents identify the bad guys and get to them before they get us which is in principle what we want. However, should we be willing to make that exchange if there is indeed an exchange? Is it too good to be true? The average American as smart as we are is still not well versed enough to know and to understand the nuances of our own Constitution, Bill of Rights, the Patriot Act and the law. Nor would we know to what extent any changes to these documents could mean to us in order for us to make an intelligent decision regarding it. Currently by our own choice, we have chosen to place our misguided trust in our legislature to protect our Constitutional freedoms and make the right decisions for us. That’s scary! So what does the Patriot Act allow the government to do?

This link takes you to a copy of the 2001 version of the USA Patriot Act.

I grant you that most of us don’t want to read the entire Act and if we did we probably wouldn’t understand most of it. It’s not to be insulting, just truthful. However, this “How Stuff Works” link takes us to a site that briefly summarizes the key points within the Act that makes it more understandable. Another Patriot Act link, “Financial Crimes” addresses the financial issues that affect things such as the banking process and the movement of finances that could affect how we bank and manage our money.

THE CONTROVERSY CENTERED AROUND THE PATRIOT ACT

Make no mistake about it, the passing of the Patriot Act was a big deal, and virtue of the fact that it was passed so quickly without it being thoroughly read by those who voted on it should give you the chills when you think about it. Suppose there was an article within that bill to eradicate everyone that looked like you, thought like you, believed like you, then you would be in serious jeopardy. Then all your congressman could say was “Oops! I should have read the entire bill.” Just as all American born and naturalized citizens who enjoyed their rights under the Constitution we suddenly one day woke up to learn that some of our rights to privacy and due process were compromised. No, there wasn’t a change in government or was there? Those whom we duly elected and sworn into office to preserve and to defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies both foreign and domestic had now arguably become an enemy of the state and conducted a full all-out assault on that same Constitution. And in so doing, they’ve assaulted every red blooded American who placed their trust in their integrity. We know politicians lie to the public in order to get elected and then later we find out what their true agendas are, but to assault our freedoms in the name of protecting us well, it just doesn’t seem right. And in so doing they are telling the American public that we’re just too stupid to know the difference.

Everyone has a phone of some sort. Smart phones or dumb phones, landlines, desktop or laptop computers, ipads, Kindles, e readers, smart watches, computers in our cars, security systems, baby monitors, in fact anything that is connected to the internet can be hacked and monitored by the good guys or the bad guys. In the docudrama movie SNOWDEN, it shows that the government could hack even the cell phone of an average citizen without their knowledge or permission, legally or illegally, and who would know? Maybe you’ve been hacked?

The value of this short video is that we can see and here Snowden himself tell us what was going on with the average citizen without our knowledge.

This short video introduced the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) which goes deeper into explaining the fine print that we see in the things we sign or click when we are so anxious to download something and yet too lazy to read the fine print. I am not sure which is worse, hackers from overseas that break in and steal your data, or the crooks that are legally able to get it and share it because of this Act, or the politicians that made it all possible.

This video talks more about Snowden, the original whistle-blower who blew the whistle on our governmental practices. I would recommend watching the movie as well to understand his concerns. To some he was a traitor and to others he was a hero. What do you think?

CHANGES TO THE PATRIOT ACT

THE FREEDOM ACT: The Patriot Act was set to expire the end of May 2015 and so the implications were that this new USA Freedom Act replaces the old USA Patriot Act and therefore, it is a different animal right? Well, maybe or maybe not. Just because something has a new name doesn’t mean that its a new thing. Remember back in the day the oil company Esso became Exxon but it was really the same old gas. It’s really arguably the same thing here…maybe. In this short video Hip Hughes summarizes the “differences” in principle between the two (if there is a difference).

“The power of an informed public.” The bottom line here is that the American people should be proactive in knowing what is going on within our government and to be vocal and proactive in addressing them.

FREEDOM ACT EXPIRES IN 2019: http://www.moxnews.com posted a video of the Privacy & Civil Liberties’ oversight board’s public forum on the USA Freedom Act. This Act is scheduled to expire at the end of 2019 if not extended by Congress. This board focused primarily on Section 215 of the Act. This is over two hours long however, it can give you some further insight into their thinking on this important subject. The important thing is that Americans don’t fall asleep on this subject. It is obvious to this writer that the main line media will not give this subject significant press time because the powers that be do not want the public to have a voice here. Now you know.

CONCLUSION

It has been sold to the American public that the Patriot/Freedom Act is for our own good. I have no doubt that both good and the not so good people in public office that is promoting the extension of this act believe that we need it and that without it we are subject to horrible acts from the bad guys. However, my concern is that this unbridled power is still subject to abuse, and in the wrong hands innocent people could get hurt. I am not naïve enough to believe that innocent people haven’t been harmed already.

When our founding fathers developed this Republic, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were constructed in such a way as to protect each and every citizen from what could be a corrupt government. In other words, they put the person first above all else. Now over two hundred years later we have more sophisticated and complicated lives. Our technology provides more comfort of ease while placing us at more risk. However, somehow, our founding fathers were still intelligent enough to understand the basic premise that the people, the person, you and I have to come first, back then and in the future. Technology and the conundrum of human life do not justify one iota the need to compromise one’s inalienable rights under the original Constitution. As enlightened as we are in this day and age we must use our grey matter to find a way to preserve the rights, justice and safety of all Americans.

NOTE: This post is not designed to go into depth about the Patriot/Freedom Act, or to vouch for the accuracy of it’s sources. It is simply to introduce the subject to the reader so as to give you a general understanding of the subject in an attempt to promote thought, further discussion and research by our readers to aid you in coming to your own informed conclusions.

In my humble opinion! What do you think?

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