Pop quiz

Two weeks ago, it was finally revealed that the ACLU had filed a lawsuit that challenged the mechanism and underpinnings of the PATRIOT Act

It's Monday and, as promised, here is more on how the "PATRIOT Act" is less about nabbing terrorists, and more about a convenient way for the U.S. government to keep tabs on any of its own citizens who speak their minds on government policy. Hyperlinks ahoy.

Two weeks ago, it was finally revealed that the ACLU had filed a lawsuit that challenged the mechanism and underpinnings of the PATRIOT Act (note: PATRIOT is actually an acronym - the actual name of the act is "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" which works out to USA PATRIOT. The name probably had more time spent on it than stuff like employment and the deficit, but it's all about priorities, right?). One of the more delightful parts of the act is all of the inherent secrecy. Not only does the act give the FBI the right to secretly arrest people without charge, hold them without notification, steal personal property without noted cause, and tap phones and intercept email without a warrant, it also sets out specific rules about legal actions against the act. In a nutshell, no lawsuits or challenges that are brought against the act can ever be publicized or discussed. However, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information suit against themselves (clever, that) and it was finally revealed that the case was in progress.

To summarize, the ACLU is fighting (on the behalf of an ISP who cannot be identified under the terms of the PATRIOT Act) the FBI's right to seize any and all information about internet users from an ISP without warrant or shown cause. The guts of how this process works, and the kind of info that the feds in the U.S. can take and use in anyway they see fit is here. Scary shit, and pretty much exactly how Hitler's gang and Stalin's mob managed to subvert the freedoms of their own populaces. But the REAL kicker is that the gubberment in the states is SO paranoid and so caught up in destroying the rights of their citizens that they went back to court and managed to get the ACLU information "re-censored" after it was already made public in a press release. So now we know that the suit is in progress, but what the government doesn't want the average American to know is:

a) the court's schedule for receiving legal briefs in this suit and noted the name of the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero

b) "The provision under challenge allows any FBI agent to write a letter demanding the disclosure of the name, screen names, addresses, e-mail header information, and other sensitive information held by 'electronic communication service providers.' "

Why Bush and his thugs want the first item censored is anyone's guess. Why they want the second one censored - well, that is pretty cut and dried. That part of the PATRIOT Act has never been revealed in public before - until now, there was no proof that the Act gave the FBI the right to take any info they wanted, without warrant, on the strength of a single person's word, with no review or approval by the agent's superiors or any legislative or judicial body.

UPDATE: Confirmation of items a) and b) above can now be found here . No word on how long this article will be live - there is already a suit filed to censor it, too.

Posted: Mon - December 6, 2004 at 07:47 PM