Whoever still thinks that the USAPATRIOT Act is a necessary precaution and that only those who have something to hide (i.e. terrorists) care about civil rights is dead wrong. As a huge breach of Constitution-protected rights, quickly pushed through Congress in 2001 in the wake of 9/11 and intended to stop any further attacks, the Act seemed to me, among others, too much of a civil rights sacrifice with too great a potential for abuse.
One of MoveOn.org’s Bush in 30 Seconds ads featured a man named Al Keyda who is detained indefinitely after a job interview with some paranoid woman, followed by the words, “It’s not likely, but it’s legal—thank you, Patriot Act.” Well, they were right about it being legal, but even liberal advocates and advertisers could not forsee this one: the Act was invoked against a Stargate SG1 fan site for copyright infringement.
The FBI raided the site’s creator’s home, seizing thousands of dollars in computer equipment, and forced his ISP to reveal his financial records. Copyright law deserves a discussion of its own, but whether the site really was infringing or not does not matter: the fourth amendment should not be bypassed, especially under the terms of a law that knowingly gives up personal freedoms so that innocents are not killed. The government has to deal with terrorism in a way that does not trample upon its citizens.
Our government is whoring itself to business interests (war profiteering, ridiculous copyright/patent/anti-circumvention rules, etc.) through scare tactics. Why are Homeland Security and National Security considered two separate issues? Why are we on Orange Alert?
But despite the corruption around our current administration, it’s still so shocking to see the USAPATRIOT Act go form zero to abuse completely outside the realm of security, war, or racism in such a short time.