Salient comments from Sheriff Andy Taylor regarding one of the bulwarks of a free society: lawyer-client confidentiality, now under attack via provisions in the (sic) Patriot Act.
AMENDMENT IV (THE U.S. CONSTITUTION):
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
In case you've been on Mars since 2000, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, Congress passed the "PATRIOT Act" (500+ pages) in October, which was quickly signed by President Bush. The full text of the PATRIOT Act was not read on the floor of the House or Senate, nor was it made available to Congress in a reasonable time before it was voted on. Almost none of Congress read it before approving it, and President Bush almost certainly never read it before signing it.
The PATRIOT Act allows federal agents warrantless searches in some instances, expanded wiretaps (including lawyer-client conversations, without judicial oversight--important in checks and balances), Internet monitoring, and even the examination of library and bookstore records. This clearly violates the 4th Amendment's prohibition on searches and seizures of Americans and their property WITHOUT WARRANTS ISSUED BY INDEPENDENT COURTS AFTER FINDING PROBABLE CAUSE. Case in point: Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (sometimes called "the library provision") allows Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts to issue warrants for individual records such as medical and library records WITHOUT PROBABLE CAUSE--directly against the plain words of the 4th Amendment (go up and read the 4th Amendment again if you missed it).
Recently the National Security Agency was revealed to have conducted far-reaching eavesdropping of the e-mails and phone calls of American citizens. When confronted with this fact, the President was visibly angered, not because it happened, but because it was exposed. In fact, he tried to have the person who exposed these facts arrested. See www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10651154/ for example.
End of short history refresher. To answer the question, I am *NOT* a left-winger or what is known today as a "liberal" in any sense of the word. Today's "liberals" (left-wingers), who have a long history of supporting the clamping down on the personal freedoms and property rights of citizens, oppose the PATRIOT Act mainly because it passed under a Republican Congress and Republican President. This is easy to demonstrate: The same left-wingers who scream bloody murder about the PATRIOT Act's attack on the 4th Amendment--with good reason--don't mind the 20,000+ anti-gun laws in America, which all violate the 2nd Amendment (named clearly as a prohibition against government's infringement upon the INDIVIDUAL right to bear arms, like the other amendments in the Bill of Rights).
Americans should disapprove of the PATRIOT Act simply because it overturns basic Constitutional prohibitions on government abuse. (Reminder: The Constitution does not GRANT rights to citizens; it PROHIBITS THE GOVERNMENT from infringing upon these basic rights. Read the 4th Amendment above again. It DOES NOT say "citizens are granted the right to be secure in their persons"; it says these rights "shall not be violated," which is a direct limitation upon the government.)
NOTE TO DEMOCRATS: Please don't pretend the PATRIOT Act is solely a "right-wing" piece of legislation:
- 48 of 50 Democrat Senators (96%) voted in FAVOR of the PATRIOT Act. - 145 of 211 Democrat Representatives (69%) voted in FAVOR of the PATRIOT Act.
NOTE TO REPUBLICANS: please do not confuse George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress with "conservatives." They have nothing to do with traditional conservatism--small government, low taxes, respect for property rights and personal freedom. The "neoconservative" movement (of which Bush and most Republicans in Congress are a part) has roots that go back to Leon Trotsky, and they praise FDR, one of the most notorious socialists-taxers-anti-private property rights politicians in U.S. history, as one of their heroes. And if you consider yourself a traditional "conservative" and support Bush or the PATRIOT Act, you are badly misinformed.