Five years ago Alpha News published a blog on the dishonesty of our congress and senate. It was titled The Washington Cartel Leadership Pac.( http://codeforeblog.com/?p=1585) A short summary of this blog is how our congress and senate have passed a law that allows them to legally move contributed funds directly into their pockets via a special Political Action Committee called a “Leadership PAC” The Leadership Pac legislation stupulates that the funds cannot be used for political purposes but the contributors can be political activists. A perfect scenario for politicians on the take.
This month the blog subject is to explain what the Patriot Act is and who voted to pass it. This was going to be a onetime post but after just 20 minutes of research on the internet it became obvious that the passage of the 2001 Patriot Act is much more complicated than was anticipated. In fact the whole thing has sinister and secrecy implications that involve two presidents, Harry Reid and the majority of the Congress and Senate.
Our problem started when an internet search was performed to find the actual Patriot Act. The first search and subsequently several others only resulted in an act called the “Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act. An obvious error right? Finally after several tries with the same result we read the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act.
This is a summary of how the new Patriot Act was created and signed into law by President Bush. The Patriot act took several submissions that resulted in changes and amendments before it was passed into law a month after 9-11 on October 26, 2001 .
The basis for the new law was the Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The New York Twin Towers terrorist act in 2001 and the subsequent investigations into this crime revealed that the Intelligence Surveillance Act was in dire need of change. It was not passed to address the technologies of modern 2001. If our country was going to be protected from terrorists changes were in order.
The proposed changes, even in 2001 ran into roadblocks. Not all of the Senate and Congress agreed with some of these changes. There were allegations that the new law conflicted with our Constitution and there were those who were reluctant to approve such a law especially if it was to be a permanent law. Some acknowledged that extreme measures should be taken but were our constitutional rights to be compromised permanently?
When the differences of opinions were ironed out and voted on there was only one dissension. President Bush signed the law into effect but there were hitches. Some of the law was only temporary. The ACLU almost immediately challenged the law as unconstitutional and the Supreme court agreed with some of the ACLU assertions that the law went too far. The supreme courts opinion was that some portions of the new law did not pass the test of constitutionality. It is not clear whether or not changes were actually made to the law based on the Supreme Courts decision.
There were three very controversial sections of the law that had expiration dates. These sections as provided by Wikipedia were:
Section 206 of the USA PATRIOT Act authorizes roving wiretaps in relation to foreign intelligence collection that permit electronic surveillance of a person, without specifying the phone or computer, if that person demonstrates an intent to evade surveillance – for example, by switching cell phones on a regular basis. Long used in criminal investigations, roving wiretaps are court-approved and may cover any communications device that the target uses or may use. Like roving criminal wiretaps, roving wiretaps under FISA do not require the government to ascertain where the targeted communication will take place. In short, the government may obtain an order to conduct surveillance that specifies a target (though not necessarily by name) but not a specific device to tap, although the order must provide a description of the target if a name is not known.
Access to Business Records and Tangible Things
Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act allows the government to seek court-ordered production of “any tangible thing,” including business records, in intelligence investigations. The provision both expanded the scope of materials that may be sought and lowered the standard for a court to issue an order compelling their production. [CRS,3/2/10]
Section 215 has been described as the “library provision” because of concerns raised by librarians about disclosing library records under this provision. Under a 2005 amendment, if library records were sought under the USA PATRIOT Act, the application would need to be approved by one of three high-ranking FBI officers. [CRS, 3/2/10].
Section 6001(a) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act permits surveillance against a so-called “lone wolf,” a non-U.S. person engaged in “international terrorism” for whom the government does not have evidence of ties to a foreign terrorist group. Enacted in 2004, supporters of this provision cite the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, in which FBI agents allegedly had insufficient evidence of his affiliation with a foreign terrorist organization and therefore could not get a court order to access his computer. However, a report issued by Senators Specter, Leahy and Grassley in 2003 concluded that key FBI personnel working on the Moussaoui case misunderstood the FISA legal requirements, and that there was sufficient evidence to obtain a FISA court order if the FBI had applied for one. [CRS, 3/2/10; Statement of Assistant Attorney General David Kris, 9/23/09]
After the ACLU lawsuit against the government and the Courts Decision that portions of the Patriot Act violated the constitution, the general public began to express interest in this new law. In fact it became clear that although most agreed that changes in our security system needed to be changed there was widespread dislike for the Patriot Act. As the years went by, the dissension and distrust of our Congress and Senate grew to monumental proportions. There was little trust in the Patriot Act and those who in the Congress and Senate who voted for it.
Soon Harry Reid had a problem. The above mentioned portions of the Patriot Act were due to expire. Reid knew that these portions of the Patriot Act were so unpopular that he would have a hard time getting the necessary votes for an extension.
The presumption was and is that the Washington politicians didn’t want their name attached to unpopular pieces of legislation. Especially in the wake of upcoming elections.
If you have ever tried to access the vote tally by name on a legislative bill you will find that it is relatively easy for legislation that passes through the Senate. Their names are all listed with their vote for each respective Bill.
This is not the case with Congress. It’s almost impossible to get a list by name of the vote tally of individual congressmen on a government web site. The information provided on the Government site is a cumulative tally of votes. The number of yeas or nays as a total with no names. Respectively it is also impossible to obtain a direct email address for congress. Some of them however have made the mistake of owning a Facebook page. The individual vote tallies can be accessed through private information links like Opensecrets.org. or RollCallVotes.com (Thomas Library of Congress).
Harry Reid, the majority leader at the time, must have wondered how he was going to protect his Democrats from public scrutiny. How was he going to get them to approve an extension of the three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act and keep their votes a secret from the public?
In October of 2009 Harry Reid took an obscure failed piece of legislation called the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act and gutted it. In place of the gutted legislative wording he inserted the proposed Patriot Act Extension wording. The legislation was in disguise. It worked. The public could not find the renewal act on the internet and respectively could not find the vote tally because everything referenced the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act. This was a title that on the surface had nothing to do with National Security. In February 2010 he got his votes and the three expired portions of the Patriot Act were voted on and extended. The act is now known as Public Law 111-141 subtitle Extensions of Sunsets. (Patriot Act).
This is why Codeforeblog could not find the law or the extensions. We found a vote tally roster by name based on Public Law 111-141. In February 2010 President Obama signed the Physician Payment Reform Act (Patriot Act Extension) into law. The same extension will up again in December 2013. Codeforeblog will be urging our congress and senate not to approve this extension.
A blog on the Patriot Act itself with links will follow. We will address how the Patriot Act might conflict or might not conflict with the US Constitution and if the Act itself is being implemented as written. We will also attempt to explain how the act affects law enforcement and US Citizens. Sign up for automatic notice of further blogs.