“Secret interpretation” of the Patriot Act

Accord­ing to two US Sen­a­tors who are both Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, the Eric Hold­er Jus­tice Depart­ment has made mis­lead­ing pub­lic state­ments about its “secret inter­pre­ta­tion” of the Patri­ot Act that “allows” law enforce­ment to gath­er any kind of intel­li­gence they want, on any­one inside the U.S., whether or not there’s any evi­dence of con­nec­tion to ter­ror­ism or espi­onage. Appar­ent­ly, no “domes­tic intel­li­gence gath­er­ing” activ­i­ty is off-lim­its under this “secret inter­pre­ta­tion”…

But the real kick­er is… it’s secret. So we don’t even know what we’re deal­ing with.

The two Sen­a­tors, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, have writ­ten a let­ter to Eric Hold­er, ask­ing him for pub­lic clar­i­fi­ca­tion. Here’s a peti­tion you can sign in sup­port of their request.

The Jus­tice Dept. main­tains that the law is pub­lic and denies that it’s doing any­thing in secret… even while acknowl­edg­ing that its “inter­pre­ta­tions” of this pub­lic law are in fact clas­si­fied.

The inter­pre­ta­tions of the pub­lic law are clas­si­fied. Is that Orwellian enough for you?

Maybe you’re won­der­ing why Obama’s hand-picked Jus­tice chief is run­ning his orga­ni­za­tion this way rather than scal­ing back the Patri­ot Act as he should be doing. I’m won­der­ing too. Our “friends” in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion are not just con­tin­u­ing Bush poli­cies, they’re inten­si­fy­ing them. We now have an “always and for­ev­er war against ter­ror” with lit­er­al­ly no end in sight, ever. The “war on ter­ror” — which, of course, involves U.S. state-spon­sored ter­ror — has already giv­en us a soft police state in which we are pay­ing a lit­er­al for­tune every year to have our­selves spied on with­out lim­it. And our nation’s ille­gal over­seas activ­i­ties (includ­ing an offi­cial assas­si­na­tion pol­i­cy and attacks on the cit­i­zens of sov­er­eign coun­tries with unmanned drone planes flown from mil­i­tary com­put­er work­sta­tions) are seri­ous­ly dam­ag­ing our rela­tion­ships with oth­er coun­tries.

We don’t have to run our for­eign pol­i­cy this way. We have caused our prob­lems in the world. Nobody is “doing” any­thing to the USA. We’re doing it to our­selves. And we (along with Israel) are becom­ing increas­ing­ly iso­lat­ed and defen­sive, as shown by our recent reac­tion to the Pales­tin­ian UN state­hood bid. You hard­ly need to wait for the per­spec­tive of his­to­ry to see that our cred­i­bil­i­ty and influ­ence in the world are col­laps­ing rapid­ly, and that we will engage in increas­ing­ly dan­ger­ous, desta­bi­liz­ing activ­i­ty. We’re throw­ing good mon­ey after bad to prop up mis­guid­ed poli­cies rather than re-think them. That’s the Oba­ma pres­i­den­cy in a nut­shell.

Feel free to post a com­ment explain­ing how I can jus­ti­fy vot­ing for a sec­ond term for Barack Oba­ma. Cred­i­ble recent esti­mates are that the major Pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates will spend $1B each to win the White House in the next elec­tion. They’ll get that mon­ey from wealthy spe­cial inter­ests, and those inter­ests will expect a worth­while return on their invest­ment. And this is how our gov­ern­ment is being run.

I might vote for Bud­dy Roe­mer: he’s refus­ing all PAC mon­ey and lim­it­ing his cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions to $100. He wants to talk about Con­gres­sion­al cor­rup­tion but the Repub­li­can par­ty won’t let him par­tic­i­pate in any debates.

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