Bush Victorious on Patriot Act
By Matthew Rothschild

November 17, 2005

Bush may be slipping in the polls, but he’s still getting just about everything he wants out of the Congress.

Including reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

This week, a conference committee of the House and Senate agreed to make permanent almost every aspect of the Patriot Act. Even the most controversial measures—including allowing the FBI and local police to snoop on your library and bookstore activities—were given another seven-year lease.

The conference bill would still allow the FBI or local law enforcement to barge into your home when you’re not there, ransack your house, rifle through your files, go onto your computer and implant in it a device called a “magic lantern,” which records every single key stroke you make.

Then the cops can leave without telling you about it—at least for a while.

Here a compromise was made, but a minor one. Instead of being able to delay notification for a “reasonable time,” as in the original, now the police could delay for an initial 30-day period, but this could be stretched indefinitely with an “unlimited number of 90-day extensions if approved” by a court, according to the ACLU. The legislation also maintains the ridiculously broad definition of “domestic terrorism,” which could be construed as covering nonviolent acts of civil disobedience.

And it gags you from telling anyone except your lawyers if the FBI comes after your records. In fact, it even makes it a new crime to violate that gag order.

Finally, it adds additional crimes that carry the penalty of death.

Civil liberties groups around the country, along with liberal allies in Congress, fought valiantly to reform the Patriot Act. They succeeded in preventing some of the most egregious proposals from becoming law, such as granting the executive branch additional powers essentially to write up its own subpoenas and thereby bypass the judiciary. And in a few places on the margins, they made modest improvements.

But the Patriot Act still contains several provisions that are anathema to our first freedoms.

This proves that on some issues, at least, Bush still has enough power to prevail.

So let’s not kid ourselves about his incompetence and his lack of vision.

He’s got a vision, all right, and he’s still achieving much of it.


Well, what do you know? On November 17 and November 18, some Senators would not swallow the draft of the conference report bill on the Patriot Act. Senator Russ Feingold threatened a filibuster. Senator Arlen Specter expressed concern about the long sunset provisions. And three Democrats and three Republicans signed a letter denouncing the bill: Feingold, Richard Durbin, and Ken Salazar on the Democratic side, and Larry Craig, John Sununu, and Lisa Murkowski on the Republican side.

As a result, Congress shelved it until December. For updates on it see aclu.org and bordc.org (the website of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, which has galvanized the grassroots on this issue.)

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project