One of the most egregious and least defensible sections of the PATRIOT Act was protected from an assault by civil libertarians and moderate Republicans when the radical House leadership delayed a vote–again–while they muscled enough dissidents to make a tie vote on an amendment that would have stopped the govt from having access to library and bookstore records about who’s reading what.
At issue was one provision of the Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism law passed by huge bipartisan margins after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The amendment would have blocked a section of the act that requires libraries, booksellers and others to release information about the reading habits of people under government investigation using a lesser standard of probable cause than is required under a normal criminal investigation.The American Library Assn., which supported the amendment, has called that section of the act “a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.”
The American Booksellers Assn. joined the ALA and the PEN American Center, a writers organization, in urging passage of the amendment.
After GOP leaders prevailed, the lead Republican advocate of the amendment, Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-Idaho), told reporters, “You win some, and some get stolen.”
Stealing is a way of life for radical Republicans. They stole the Presidential election of 2000 to get their puppet in the White House; ‘Refridgerator’ Frist and Tom ‘The Hammer’ DeLay have strong-armed, intimidated, and threatened members of their own party to get their way; the WH Attack Machine has viciously slimed and slandered dissenters without regard for either truth or civility; and the House leadership in particular has been forceful about changing the rules to give themselves far more power than ever before in its history.
This is a tiny bill, a tiny change in a huge and largely un-Constitutional law that would hardly affect investigations in any real sense despite the lies its advocates have been spreading:
“Lives have been saved, terrorists have been disrupted and our country is safer” because of the Patriot Act, said Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Not one word in that declaration has any truth whatever to it but as it has been for three years, that doesn’t matter to the radcons. What matters is getting their way and their way depends heavily on control over your life through invading your privacy. The next step for a fascist govt is a small one: from profiling you by what you read to banning what they don’t want you to read.
What’s encouraging about this is that moderate Republicans are finally starting to rebel against the extremism of the BA’S incessant power-grabs and gobbling-up of rights we’ve been able to take for granted for more than two centuries. They lost this one but it’s getting harder to keep them in line; the more extreme the actions and demands of the radcons, the more muscle it takes to win even a small victory like this. But they’d better focus their little rebellion quickly; if Bush wins in November, they’re going to find themselves irrelevant the following day.
This isn’t a fascist govt yet; it’s a govt with fascist leanings–Ashcroft would have been right at home under Franco or Mussolini–but in a second administration, with nothing left to lose or protect, they will go for it all and the devil take the hindmost. That they put that much energy behind defeating an amendment that virtually no one but them supports and that hasn’t led to a single substantial piece of anti-terrorist information EVER, is a sign of how far they’ll go to control what people read and hear and see in the name of gathering power.