Thanks to the reauthorized Patriot Act, we are more than a little less free. Neither of Colorado’s senators found the courage to stand up for the Bill of Rights in their votes for this deeply flawed act. This, in spite of the fact that eight states, including Colorado, and 397 cities and towns, including Fort Collins, have passed resolutions expressing concern that this act erodes the rights of a free people.
According to The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (www.bordc.org), this act allows a government claim to be sufficient for federal agents to obtain information they think relevant to an investigation. “Fishing expeditions” should not be permitted. A government agent should be required to convince a judge that there are “specific facts” connecting sensitive medical, business, financial, library or Internet records.
The unchecked power that NSL (“National Security Letter”) authority conveys to the FBI is unconstitutional. The reauthorized act not only fails to tighten the standards for using NSLs; it expands that power by imposing criminal penalties for non-compliance. A judge should decide whether the government’s need for the information is real. The government’s claim of “national security” should not be accepted without review.
The reauthorized Patriot Act contains no meaningful checks and balances. We are witnessing the wages of fear when both houses of the U.S. Congress can so overwhelmingly vote to strip Americans of their constitutional rights. It is a recipe for tyranny, for which Colorado’s delegation should be held accountable.
Fort Collins resident