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Expiration of US Patriot Act Sparks New Debate on Surveillance

Posted June 1st, 2015 at 2:03 pm (UTC-4)
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Thank you, Edward Snowden: An End to General Warrants as So-called PATRIOT Act Expires

 Juan Cole – Informed Consent

The US government behemoth dedicated to spying on us all in contravention of the Constitution will likely be only slightly inconvenienced by the expiration of the misnamed “PATRIOT Act”, forced by Sen. Rand Paul late Sunday night …

It should be underlined that these steps toward restoration of Americans’ privacy would not have occurred without the revelations of Edward Snowden about just how out of control the National Security Agency has been … The bulk collection of information on whom millions of Americans call, how long they talk, and where they are when they’re doing it, and the storage of that information on government servers, will cease. Mind you, the government never got a warrant for any of this invasion of privacy.

There is no evidence that this massive domestic surveillance program rolled up a single terrorist plot, but plenty of evidence that it was misused.

President Obama Defends Patriot Act in Regular Saturday Address

When a Government Spies on Its Citizens: Lessons From Chile

Ariel Dorfman – Los Angeles Times

What are the deep, long-term effects of clandestine surveillance on a country? … My own experience may be relevant to that discussion …

It was on Sept. 12, 1973, the day after a military coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile, that I started to understand that language was also a victim when massive state spying permeates a hitherto free nation …

Later, I watched this poisoning of my country from exile. It was worsened by the widening gap between those of us who had fled and were free to speak and write, and those who had remained behind and were subject to invisible eyes and ears and to all too visible guns.

And yet here in the United States, the country where we finally sought and received refuge, the experience of Chile is now sadly significant … there is nothing that compares with the sweeping and unchecked powers of surveillance authorities exercise today. The fact that technology now allows eavesdroppers to collect every conversation, every intimate exchange, every secret or joke should make Americans tremble.

Indian protesters show their support for NSA leaker Edward Snowden in New Delhi, India, July 7, 2013. (AP/Tsering Topgyal)

Indian protesters show their support for NSA leaker Edward Snowden in New Delhi, India, July 7, 2013. (AP/Tsering Topgyal)

Funeral for the Patriot Act

Jazz Shaw – Hot Air

This particular bit of beltway theater is one of the stranger ones we’re likely to witness this year, if only because it finds GOP foreign policy hawks largely lining up on the same side as President Obama …

On the other side there is… Rand Paul. And along with the Kentucky senator are an army of strident, Big L Libertarians who are ready to Stand With Rand, or whatever the bumper sticker of the week reads …

There seems to be nearly universal agreement on both sides of the aisle that the data collections programs under discussion are needed to keep the country safe. At the same time, nobody seems to be able to come up with an example of where they’ve done anything concrete to stop a terrorist plot beyond catching one guy who sent a few thousand dollars to Jordan. So the question remains… are there more examples which they simply can’t tell us about or is it really not producing any results? And even if it’s not, is it worth sticking with the program in case it does find something in the future?

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