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Juan Cole

Protest Backroom Deal to Extend Un-Patriot Act til 2015

There’s an action alert by a supporter of Rand Paul over at Firedoglake saying that an attempt will be made at 5 pm on Monday in the Senate to extend the misnamed ‘PATRIOT Act’ for four years. There will be an attempt to get unanimous consent for the extension, with just a motion to which there should be no objections.

Rand’s alert says,

“The surveillance state’s ability to snoop through your business records, pry into your library book checkouts, monitor so-called “lone wolfs,” and spy on your personal communications through roving wiretaps will be extended until 2015, which “coincidentally” is not an election year.”

Here is a similarly urgent ACLU alert.

The vote is part of a deal between majority leader Harry Reid and his Republican colleagues to sidestep debate and rush the legislation through, which is becoming a worrisomely common procedure as the Democrats continue to abdicate their responsibilities to the Constitution, as Glenn Greenwald has elegantly explained.

The three controversial provisions being extended are the warrantless ‘roving wiretap’, the government’s warrantless access to business and library records, and the ability of the state to monitor non-US citizens at will and in the absence of any probable cause.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has found evidence of FBI abuse of the PATRIOT Act.

The US Bill of Rights says that people have the right to privacy in their personal effects and their communications from government prying except where the police obtain a warrant from a judge. The tendency in the US for the past 40 years has been to chip away at this requirement, giving government agencies more and more unsupervised surveillance authority.

Please let Reid and Mitch McConnell know that we Americans don’t appreciate their gutting the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

See also this diary at Daily Kos.

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Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

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