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posted: 6/11/2013 4:40 AM

Patriot Act is hardly patriotic

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Patriot Act is hardly patriotic

A month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, George Bush signed the Patriot Act. Ostensibly this law would protect America from further attacks. In reality it gave unprecedented power to the executive branch and subverted the separation of powers.

It wasn't long before these powers were abused. In 2006 it was revealed that the NSA had been tapping the phones and intercepting emails of U.S. citizens on an unprecedented scale since 2001. These intrusions were not part of a specific criminal inquiry. They were instead an exercise in "data mining" by the federal government in the belief that somewhere among these millions of communications something would implicate someone in some sort of crime.

In the past weeks we have discovered the Department of Justice has secretly subpoenaed the phone records of The Associated Press. On the heels of that comes news that the administration also has used secret court subpoenas to acquire millions of phone records of Americans, again not in conjunction with any specific criminal investigation, but simply in the hope that one of these pieces of information would implement someone in something illegal.

Both of these incidents illustrate the executive branch's ability to ignore the constitutional guarantee of the presumption of innocence and the right to be free of unwarranted search and seizure. Two consecutive presidents, one Republican and one Democratic, have taken the powers granted them by the Patriot Act to trample the constitutional rights of millions. In our mad rush to protect our county from terrorists we have surrendered the very freedoms we were supposedly defending. The Patriot Act was a reactionary bill; its renewal did nothing to restore the checks and balances to government. It's time for every American to recognize that there is nothing patriotic about the Patriot Act.

Pete Null

Glendale Heights

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