Theodore's World: Good News for Terrorists: Democratic Revisions to the PATRIOT Act

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October 06, 2009

Good News for Terrorists: Democratic Revisions to the PATRIOT Act

The wives of the terrorists arrested in Canada who were planning to detonate bombs against the Toronto stock exchange, storm Parliament and, if they were lucky, behead the prime minister. ( Note CELL Phones)

Good News for Terrorists: Democratic Revisions to the PATRIOT Act

By Dick Morris And Eileen McGann

If only terrorists would be so accommodating as not to change cell phones, the new curbs on the Patriot Act being pushed by Democrats in Congress would not be so dangerous. But, unfortunately, even a book entitled Terrorism for Dummies would tell them to use multiple cell phones to plot their mayhem.

In the aftermath of Oklahoma City, President Clinton asked Congress for authority to order roving wiretaps, targeting the terror suspect rather than one specific phone. If he changed phones, the FBI could tap each new phone he used without getting a separate warrant. Congress unwisely and unaccountably refused. But when President Bush renewed the request, after 9-11, Congress included the authorization in the Patriot Act. But this provision and many other essential investigatory tools is subject to sunset at the end of the year. Unless affirmatively renewed by Congress, they will lapse.

Drug enforcement agents have long used roving wiretaps but anti-terror investigators will not be able to use them if Congress doesn’t extend the authority. Our anti-terror investigators will be back to the one phone-one warrant rule.

Former Bush Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, writing in an op-ed in Friday’s Wall Street Journal notes that roving wiretaps “helped thwart a plot earlier this year to blow up synagogues in Riverdale, New York.” Yet liberal Democrats are fighting the renewal of the roving wiretap authority as part of a broad offensive against the very Patriot Act provisions which have kept us safe (often by narrow margins) since 9-11.

Other liberal targets include the statute which allows terror investigators to apply for court orders to search business records in national security investigations.

The Democrats want to limit this authority to instances in which investigators can prove that their target is an agent of a foreign power. Since terrorists are unlikely to register under FARA (Foreign Agent Registration Act), one wonders how investigators are supposed to be able to prove that they are foreign agents before they can investigate them!

Even though investigators can only search the business records if they get the approval of the court, this safeguard does not impress the liberals. Ironically, the IRS can access these very same business records if they are connected with a tax investigation whether or not a foreign agent is involved. But terror investigators will have to face a more daunting hurdle.

Another sunsetting provision under attack is the so-called “lone wolf authority” which allows investigators to launch a probe even if they cannot prove, before they start, that the target is connected to a terrorist group. Again, the liberals would put the horse before the cart and demand proof before an inquiry could begin.

Other liberal targets include limiting the use of National Security Letters - in effect subpoenas - in terror investigations.

The fact is that there has not been a single instance of reported abuse of these investigative powers by counter-terrorist agents. No records have even been turned over the other government agencies like the IRS or the DEA. No leaks have appeared in the media. No citizen’s privacy has been compromised by publication of his secrets in the newspapers.

On the other hand, the list of terror attacks that have been prevented by using these authorities is extensive. Most recently, these tools helped stop Najibullah Zazi from loading backpacks with lethal explosives and detonating them on New York City subways.

Will Obama endorse these crippling amendments? Will Democrats like Senators Gillibrand and Schumer who come from endangered states like New York back them?

Heaven help the Democratic Party and President Obama if these debilitating amendments pass or if the authority to use this statute lapses and another terrorist attack takes place! Heaven help the victims too!

Amid terror threat, Dems chip away at Patriot Act

By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent

Some Democratic lawmakers have long wanted to weaken the act, and now, with big majorities in the House and Senate, they have their chance. Republicans are fighting to keep the law in its current form.

"These three provisions have been very important for the investigative agencies who are working every day to protect us from terrorist attack," says Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican on the committee. "Before the Patriot Act, terrorist investigators had far less authority to get records and documents than a DEA or an IRS agent."

Even roving wiretaps, a widely accepted, common-sense feature of the Patriot Act, have come under question. At a Sept. 23 committee hearing, Sen. Al Franken, the newest member of the committee, challenged the constitutionality of such wiretaps, and in the process left an Obama Justice Department official -- who supports the law -- muttering in frustration.

That official, Assistant Attorney General David Kris, tried to explain to Franken that the law allows, and the courts have held, that investigators can wiretap a suspect based on a specific description of that suspect's activities, even if investigators don't know his name.

Franken, who pointed out that he is not a lawyer, was unimpressed. "That's what brings me to this," he said, pulling a copy of the Constitution from his coat pocket. He read aloud the Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."
Is the Patriot Act's roving wiretap provision consistent with the Constitution? Franken asked.
"I do think it is," Kris answered, "and I kind of want to defer to that other, third branch of government. The courts, in looking at -----"
"I know what they are," Franken joked, as the audience laughed.
Kris seemed taken aback. "This is surreal," he said under his breath.

Indeed it was. Maybe Franken was serious, and maybe he was just clowning around. But it didn't make for an enlightening exchange -- or bode well for the Patriot Act.

Now the committee is down to the business of crafting an actual bill to reauthorize the act. Republicans believe they can beat back some of the more sweeping changes, but they are under no illusions about the Democratic majority's power to chip away at the government's ability to fight terrorism.

"I'm very worried that we could end up weakening the act," says Sessions, "when we should be considering what we can do to make it stronger."

Wild Thing's comment......

Obama and this administration scare me more then the terrorists. I felt good about the Patriot Act with Bush as President.....with Obama and Janet H. and her DHS it takes on a whole different meaning.

Morris said a lot of good points about it, important ones. I sure hope the Republicans keep an eye on Obama and his ilk and what they do with it. I want them to be able to wire tap because it helps them find out information about terrorists. I just don't want Obama to use it against all of us for saying we don't like him or something. He is capable of anything.

....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at October 6, 2009 06:48 AM


WT, I agree with your comment. But I'll take it one step further. Obama has done FAR more damage to OUR country than the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor...far more damage than any terrorist plot.

He needs to be "removed".

Posted by: SSgt Steve, USMC(PS) at October 6, 2009 07:45 AM

So, Al Franken's comedy is going to help run our anti terror campaign. This is sick. We need to use every tool availible to prevent further terrorist attacks. The terrorists only have one rule-succeed.

Why were these Patriot Act provisions sunseted? Actually I like the idea of sunsetting. I wish all legisation was sunsetted, not just that the Dems don't like.

Posted by: TomR at October 6, 2009 10:20 AM

Another Harvard genius. To Franken's credit he did graduate "with Praise"(Cum Laude) but was so well versed went into comedy. Then bored with that, he stole the election in Minnisota, has a degree in Political Science, meaning he probably read the Cliff Notes on Machiaveli and now is an expert on the Constitution. It's nitwits like this who don't even belong in the government let alone in the Senate, where he can do real harm. Health Care and Cap and Trade.

Is there any doubt this country's National Security is in jeopardy ?

Posted by: Mark at October 6, 2009 12:39 PM

SSgt Steve, USMC(PS), I agree with you

Even if the terorists bombed every major city
we have it would not do the damage Obama is and
will do.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 6, 2009 07:51 PM

Tom, I agree so much.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 6, 2009 07:52 PM

Mark, good run down on Franken.
You're so right about our National Security

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 6, 2009 07:56 PM