Remember the USA PATRIOT ACT that a freaked-out Congress rushed into law in October 2001? That was the creepy legislation that would keep America safe by trampling on our liberties and stuff. Well, the good news is that many of the disturbing provisions had sunset clauses, so they'd go away by 2005. Or 2009. Or, hey, maybe never! This is how you do it:
- Propose bad legislation.
- Calm fears by telling the public the bad legislation will expire.
- Once passed, remove expiration date.
It's happening today, as a matter of fact:
On Thursday February 3rd, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin considering The USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2011 (S.193). The reforms in that bill would introduce some oversight and accountability when it comes to how the government uses its broad surveillance powers under the PATRIOT Act. The bill especially focuses on curbing abuse of "National Security Letters" or "NSLs", secret demands for communications and business records issued by the FBI without any court oversight.
In particular, according to the Cleveland Leader:
The provisions are Section 206 and Section 215 of the 2005 Patriot Act renewal. Section 206 allows authorities to wiretap multiple phones of one person (aka "roving surveillance") with court approval. Section 215 allows authorities to subpoena all kinds of records under the Foreign Inteligence Surveillance Act, which also prohibits those who receive an order to turn over the records from telling anyone about the subpoena, including the person's whose information they are turning over. This includes bank statements, Internet records, library records, and so on.