Friday, December 23, 2005

Sen. Larry Craig is NOT a Nut

In contrast to Sen. Feingold (D-AlQuaeda), who has purchased his 15 minutes' fame with silly rhetoric and Me! ME! MEEEE! statements, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) has some significant objections to the PATRIOT Act which deserve consideration.

Craig's concerns about the Act are encapsuled in his "SAFE" Act proposal, which would modify the PATRIOT Act in certain specific ways.

How significant are these modifications? Well, here's one that caught my eye:

Section 7 – Domestic Terrorism Definition (Section 802)

The PATRIOT Act’s overbroad definition of domestic terrorism could include acts of civil
disobedience by political organizations. While civil disobedience is and should be illegal, it is
not necessarily terrorism.
The SAFE Act would limit the qualifying offenses for domestic
terrorism to those that constitute a federal crime of terrorism, instead of any federal or state
crime, as is currently the case.

And here's another:

Section 5 – National Security Letters (Section 505)

The SAFE Act would restore a standard of individualized suspicion for using an NSL, requiring
that the government have reason to believe the records sought relate to a suspected terrorist or
As is the case for grand jury subpoenas, the SAFE Act would give the recipient of an NSL
the right to challenge the letter and the nondisclosure requirement, and place a time limit on the
nondisclosure requirement (which could be extended by the court). As is the case for FISA
authorities, the SAFE Act would give notice to the target of an NSL if the government seeks to
use the records obtained from the NSL in a subsequent proceeding, and give the target an
opportunity to challenge the use of those records.

There are others, perhaps less striking.

Yesterday's Limbaugh show included an interview with Craig, where he explained his objections very clearly and quite convincingly. Limbaugh countered with a remark to the effect that 'there will always be abuse of the system' by Government officials. BOTH cited the regime of X42, and BOTH conceded that a Hildebeeste Presidency would likely produce more of the same. It is VERY important to recall that the Hildebeeste specifically refers to anti-abortion protesters as "terrorists" in the context of this debate. And it is a sure bet that other Democratic Party figures hold this opinion as well. (Can you say George Soros? Howard Scream?)

Having thought about this for a while, it is clear to me that Senator Craig's position is the better one. While Limbaugh's assertion that miscreants will abuse their power is undoubtedly true (and could happen under some (R) President, too...) there is NO GOOD REASON to explicitly license such abuse. In fact, the compelling case is Craig's: make abuse illegal.

A close and valued friend--and an exceptionally bright guy--mentioned over lunch that he simply does not now, and never will, trust the Government with his personal information. Not that it's possible to hide the info; the IRS or Wis DOR could create fairly accurate biographies of anyone who pays taxes, and the FBI has the capability to fill in all the details (with court authorization), including when and where you bought your last bag of Doritos.

Sensenbrenner has assured us that a good debate will take place again, soon. Outstanding. Let those who think that the Government can define abortion protestors as "terrorists" make their case, if they can.

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