Unpatriotic to renew Patriot Act

Freedom New Mexico

W hen are Americans going to insist that their government start following the Constitution? Last Friday, Congress passed an extension of the misnamed USA Patriot Act, which severely breaches Americans’ Fourth Amendment “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

President Obama, who once called for repealing the original Patriot Act, quickly signed the extension into law.

Problems abound. Section 215 of the act, for instance, gives the FBI virtually unlimited authority to obtain business records and other tangible items as long as they are “relevant” to “an authorized investigation … to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

We can only hope that federal courts will void this clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

And how’s this for irony? The extension was enacted just before the Memorial Day weekend, when we commemorate the men and women who died defending the Fourth Amendment and the rest of the Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment was included among the original 10 amendments — the Bill of Rights — because of gross abuses by the British. After the British used “general warrants and writs of assistance,” John Adams called such intrusive acts “the spark in which originated the American Revolution.”

On the day Congress passed the extension, two senators tried to warn us about abuses. As quoted by The New York Times, one of them, Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and a member of the Intelligence Committee, said, “I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned, and they will be angry.”

Sadly, the act’s extension was supported by New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce. Hasn’t he heard that the Tea Party movement, which gave the GOP its current majority in the House, is demanding reductions in intrusive government power in all areas, not just taxes and expenditures?