To the Philadelphia Inquirer. The USA PATRIOT Act is up for renewal again, and it's time to let it die.
Daniel Bier | 357 words
Dear Editor:

Nearly 9 years ago, the United States suffered the worst terrorist attack in history. The events of September 11, 2001, accomplished their objective: terror. The newly elected Bush Administration capitalized on the shock and fear of that day to pass the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001”- the USA PATRIOT Act. This document was several hundred pages long, filled with legalese and obscure terminology, and it was delivered to the Congress by Attorney General John Ashcroft with a note attached requesting that there be
no debate on the bill before it was passed. The bill was amended at the last minute and printed just a few hours before the vote. Not a single member of Congress ever read it, but it passed almost unanimously.

A decade later, we have seen that the ill-named Patriot Act was one of the worst assaults on American civil liberties since the Alien and Sedition Acts under John Adams in 1798. The Patriot Act allowed Federal agents to write their own search warrants (without probable cause of a crime or a court order), authorized “sneak-and-peak” searches (where citizens are never informed that their homes, computers, financial, phone, or library records have been searched), and permitted “roving wiretaps” (which allowed Federal agents to intercept phone conversations without having to specify the person being investigated or which phone is being tapped). These rules, among others, clearly violate the 4th Amendment and have not been shown to reduce the threat of terrorism.

These powers were used and abused during the Bush Administration and are now up for renewal. The same people who forced this travesty on the American people in 2001 are trying to sneak it back through the Congress again, without any debate. This time around we know what we are getting into, and we are not going to be fooled again. The Patriot Act would not have prevented 9/11 and is a grievous assault on the Constitution. This time we’re ready, and we know that we don't have to choose between liberty and security. Once we stop letting the government run wild with our liberties it can get back to protecting them. It’s time to let the Patriot Act expire, because there’s nothing patriotic about shredding the Constitution.

Daniel Bier

Mt. Laurel, NJ

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