Sunday, July 06, 2003
Ex-Representative Pat Schroeder writes today in the Denver Post this incoherent and hysterical column about the ability of law enforcement to obtain search warrants of library records. I found it difficult to believe that this issue gets so much untempered rhetoric and so little coherent thought.
Rep. Schroeder's claim that the Patriot Act is an "endrun" around the First and Fourth Amendments is typical of the ludicrous rhetoric surrounding the Patriot Act. Most informative is that Rep. Schroeder doesn't bother to cite to any part of the Patriot Act for her bold claim that "The Patriot Act gives the FBI access to public-library circulation and Internet-use records and bookstore-purchase records on the mere hint they might be "relevant" to an investigation."
The lack of specificity is not unique. The Patriot Act has been condemned in the strongest words by many for things that it simply doesn't do. The reality is that Rep. Schroeder's rhetoric is simply misleading. There is no reason for public-library records, ISP records or bookstore-purchase records to be any different from any other part of our private lives. The concept of law enforcement searching for and seizing such things is no more and no less disturbing than any other search pursuant to a warrant. So long as law enforcement meets the provisions of the Fourth Amendment in these areas as in all others, something that the Patriot Act did not and under our Constitution cannot amend, there is no more of a threat from these areas than any others.
UPDATE: As I found on the Volokh Conspiracy, others notice these sorts of outrageous claims too. If you follow the link to the article discussed on this link, you'll find another silly claim about the PATRIOT Act yet. The author claims that the FBI can detain you indefinitely under the PATRIOT Act. What this person doesn't understand is that the detentions as enemy combatants are being conducted under US Supreme Court precedent dating back to the FDR administration during World War Two.
Robin 3:19 PM