October 24, 2003

Patriot Criticism "Overblown"

Maybe if some of the folks who are constantly scaremongering about the Patriot Act would listen to what Democratic Senators are saying about it, we could all be spared some of the warnings of imminent Bush/Ashcroft-inspired facism that have become so common and tiresome lately.

A Washington Post article cites statements by Dianne Feinstein and Joe Biden demonstrating that not all Democrats are hearing jackboot heels clicking just around the corner. Here's an excerpt:

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), speaking at the first of several oversight hearings on terrorism legislation, called criticism of the Patriot Act "ill-informed and overblown" and commended prosecutors' work in some terrorism cases.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) mounted a strong defense of the Patriot Act, saying she believes there is "substantial uncertainty and perhaps some ignorance about what this bill actually does do and how it has been employed....

....I have never had a single abuse of the Patriot Act reported to me," she said.

Perhaps some ignorance?

This blog has previously linked to Patriot Act articles and information, here and here , and some of those resources are worth revisiting, especially the Bork article on civil liberties since 9/11.

Edwin J. Feulner, writing at Townhall.com, says that critics of the Act can't back up their charges of abuse with any facts or specifics, and besides, "it's easier to scare someone than to persuade him". More from Feulner's piece:

All the Patriot Act really did was take many laws that were already on the books and apply them to terrorism. For example, the government now has the same power to wiretap terrorist suspects that it has long had to wiretap suspected members of organized crime. All these wiretaps, of course, are conducted under a judge’s supervision.

Unlike Patriot Act opponents, who can’t cite examples of abuse, supporters are able to point to specific ways it helps keep us safe. Prosecutors and investigators now can exchange information in ways they couldn’t before Sept. 11. The Justice Department, for instance, says the Patriot Act helped it obtain a criminal indictment of Sami al-Arian, the alleged U.S. leader of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Substantive and informed criticism and debate on the particulars of the Patriot Act are healthy and necessary, and that is what is happening now in the runup to the reauthorization of the legislation. And fortunately, the uninformed and hyperbolic Bush-bashing that has been masquerading as Patriot Act criticism isn't hard to spot from a distance.

UPDATE 10/28: David Tell adds his two cents.

Posted by dan at October 24, 2003 3:49 PM