Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Patriot Act that isn't patriotic at all

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Slowly, ever so slowly, the USA Patriot Act is being exposed -- in the courts, if already among commentators -- for what it is, an un-American desecration of the Constitution:

A federal judge in Oregon ruled yesterday that two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional, marking the second time in as many weeks that the anti-terrorism law has come under attack in the courts.

In a case brought by a Portland man who was wrongly detained as a terrorism suspect in 2004, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Patriot Act violates the Constitution because it "permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment."

"For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law -- with unparalleled success," Aiken wrote in a strongly worded 44-page opinion. "A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised."

For over 200 years -- that is, until Bush, Cheney, and the executive power cultists took over. With 9/11, the hyped-up threat of terrorism, and the so-called war on terror providing cover, and with an opposition cowering in submission (even now, still), these authoritarian radicals have effectively tossed aside the rule of law and replaced it with the trappings of a police state.

The Constitution, I believe, is strong enough to withstand the Bush presidency, but it nonetheless needs its defenders, those willing to push back against the authoritarian radicals. With the Democrats mired in the quagmire of wishy-washy apologetics, we can be thankful that there are judges like Ann Aiken to rise to the historic occasion of standing with and for the American people and their civil liberties.

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