Yet Another Court Rejects Bush’s PATRIOT Act

For the second time this month, the Bush/Cheney/GOP attack on civil liberties and the Constitution has been slapped down by a lower court judge who didn’t mince words about the blatant lack of interest the Bush Admin and the Pubs in Congress seem to have in protecting the freedoms of Americans or obeying the laws of the land. It’s what you’d call, “not a priority”.

The latest decision involves the provisions of the PATRIOT Act that allow the surveillance of “terrorist” suspects on the president’s say-so without bothering with a warrant or any other legal folderol that restricts the Bush Empire’s divine rights over its subjects. The judge’s response was, shall we say, not ambiguous.

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.”

(emphasis added)

One of the very few courageous acts by the Democrats in the Republican Congresses of 2001-6 was their steadfast refusal to knuckle under to George Bush’s attempt to load Federal benches with movement conservative judges and Republican party hacks whose legal histories made plain they would have little difficulty dumping on the Constitution if El Presidente asked them to. They did yeoman work in that department, acting – for the only time in the Bush presidency – like a legitimate and knowledgeable opposition party that wasn’t afraid to, you know, oppose.

That the District and Appellate Courts aren’t jam-packed with Republican sycophants and Bush Cultists eager to do the bidding of The Leader and shred the Constitution is due almost entirely to successful Democratic political strategies as the minority party.

But while I give them major props for their refusal to be cowed in this one area, it is their very success that helps convince me that their supposed electoral cowardice in virtually rolling over for every other Bush abomination, from the FISA bill to the Iraq war to horrific trade packages and on and on, is a sham. The party that stopped Bush cold when it was in the minority – and wanted to – can’t affect Bush policies when they control the Congress?

Bosh, as my mother used to say. It’s obvious they know how to stop Bush, they’ve done it over the judges. But they won’t do it when it comes to the war and our Liberty. Instead, they continue to support and encourage the Innocent Bystander Fable, as David Sirota’s recent encounter with DLC strategist Ed Kilgore distinctly showed.

I just finished up an appearance on Warren Olney’s national radio show (you will be able to find the archived recording here probably in a few hours). On it, I debated (among others) former DLC strategist Ed Kilgore, who quite literally regurgitated the Innocent Bystander Fable, word for nauseating word. He claimed that Democrats in Congress need to find total unity to do anything to stop the war, that they don’t have 60 votes, and oh the Congress is so closely divided, yadda yadda. It is a false and misleading meme, and I called him on it, telling him that the Innocent Bystander Fable is deliberately dishonest (and by the way, this subject is going to be the major topic of my next nationally syndicated newspaper column, out Friday).

Kilgore first feigned outrage that someone would call a factual lie “deliberately misleading” (and again folks, claiming Democrats have no power to stop the war or that they need any more than 41 Senate votes to stop the war is a lie – and a deliberate one coming from people who are “experts” and who thus know precisely how the Congress works). He then was forced to admit that yes, in fact, it is correct that if Democrats put together 41 Senate votes for a filibuster or – perhaps even easier – if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to bring a blank check war funding bill to the floors of their respective chambers, Democrats would be able to ultimately stop the war. But while the Democrats’ rhetoric is certainly different than Republicans, their actions really are not. The only thing they have consistently done when it comes to Iraq is try to pass the buck, and worse, successfully pass blank checks (like today’s new one).

$$$42BILLION$$$ more and not a peep from the Democrats.

So. We know they can act like a true opposition party when they want to. WHY WON’T THEY?

3 Responses to “Yet Another Court Rejects Bush’s PATRIOT Act”

  1. Laura says:

    When we stand waaaay back and look at the slow and steady progress of the (oh, let’s see; today I’ll call it the Friedman) agenda of the extreme right, we can see they will be busily strategizing for the next time they get into the White House. They’ll have to attend to the judge issue more aggressively from the get-go before the public has a chance to wake up. While we’re all sitting around on front porches, chewing on blades of grass, they’ll be getting to work. We’ll lazily wonder how that new Republican President will act, as if history begins anew everytime there’s a US election, and they’ll have their gameplan set in motion…. and darned if we won’t be surprised again when they go after yet another safetynet for the Constitution: The judges! All the judges!!

    I’m sure this “activist judge” in Oregon is feeling lots of heat for his ‘”partisan politics”, but I’m so grateful for his clarity in this judgement. I’m thrilled justice prevailed for the Portland man… and ultimately for the rest of us. As for Congress… sheesh….. Thanks for the article.

  2. mick says:

    Thanks, but to keep the record clear: the Oregon judge is a woman.

  3. Laura says:


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