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What are the Real Reasons Some People Oppose the Patriot Act?

People disagree with how the War on Terror is being waged for many reasons.  One criticism is that we should not be sending US troops overseas to engage in a multi-year occupation of a foreign nation.  Another is that wars such as the one in Iraq are just too expensive ($150 billion spent so far).

While I don't agree with these opinions, they are valid positions to take, provided that the person taking them is being genuine.

However, this would imply that a preventive approach to the WoT, involving greater powers given to law enforecement, while sending no troops abroad, and costing very little money, should be wholeheartedly endorsed by the same critics. 

But it is not.  It exists already, and is called the Patriot Act.  Active opposition to both our overseas activities and the domestic Patriot Act is a good indicator that the person holding these opinions actually does not want America to win the War on Terror.  How can someone oppose all these things, and still be on America's side? 

If you want concrete examples of what the Patriot Act has achieved, go here.  Meanwhile, no example of violated civil liberties has occurred (unless you count apprehended terrorists as having lost their 'civil liberties'). 

Under the phony guise of 'losing civil liberties', the pro-terror fifth column that exists in America seeks to undermine even this crucial element of protecting American lives.   When they complain of lost civil liberties, they mean the civil liberties of the terrorists.

Until the American mainstream wakes up and recognizes that an active fifth column exists in America, that has already made the War on Terror longer and more difficult than it needed to be, we cannot win.  We cannot win with an enemy within. 


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Some of these critics are trying to avoid catching terrorists. These haters claimed that 9/11 did not have arabs on board and was a jewish conspiracy. These haters hid giving terriorists money claiming the money is going to charity. These critics falsely claim that various provisions of the Patriot Act, and related laws and practices, have greatly infringed upon American liberties while failing to deal effectively with the threat of terrorism, but the case for change has not been made.

But the Patriot Act is a real law, with real purposes and real provisions. Too much of the debate has focused on the Act not as it truly is but as people perceive it to be. Most of the proposals for reform mistake the appearance of potential problems and abuse (the myth) with the reality of no abuse at all3--and, thus, the case for change has not been made.

Terrorists change their identity with frequency and often pose as other, real-world individuals. Often, the only description that the intelligence agency will be able to provide to identify the suspect is an alias (or several aliases). Sometimes the description of the terrorism suspect may be nothing more than a physical description. And, on still other occasions, it may consist only of a pattern of behavior (i.e., the person who regularly uses this series of phones, in this order, every third day). To insist that intelligence and law enforcement agents precisely identify the individual under scrutiny or the facility he will be using is, in effect, to ban the use of roving wiretaps in terrorism investigations.

The Patriot Act has become something of a political football in the past few months. One sees television commercials of anonymous hands ripping up the Constitution, with a voice-over blaming the Attorney General. Print ads show an elderly gentleman leaving a bookstore with text decrying the use of government powers to get his book purchase list. But the hysteria is based on false premises.

We cannot decide policy based upon an over-wrought sense of fear. Most of the steps proposed to combat terrorism were previously used to combat organized crime. And there is no evidence of any real abuse.


I agree. There are too many people who oppose it, and oppose any overseas action as well, yet offer no alternative suggestions.

The only real conclusion is that they actually think America is the evil one and the terrorists are the victims. This would get even these far-left nuts killed too, but sacrificing their own lives towards their cause of left-wing multiculturalism is a common practice for these fifth-column nuts.

Some critics are mainstream people who are NOT fifth-columnists. Some are useful idiots, sheeple following the left wing or right wing terrior groups. Some are Democratic opportunists looking for any political issue so they may gain political advantage.

Some are fifth-columnists that oppose our representative form of democracy.

Yes. Sheeple tend to be people who watch a lot of TV, and like to form opinions from the path of least intellectual resistance (which currently is under the control of the left).

But the fifth column is dangerous, and currently is about 8-10% of the US population.

Do you have a source to cite with creditability that 8-10% are fifth-columnists?

Let me give you some hints: anarchists,fascists, socialists, communists, ecoterriors.

In the "great Depression" about 30% identified themselves as socialist/communists. That fad pasted.

Not an exact one, but there are a number of surveys the imply this.

A Gallup poll stated that 72% are 'proud to be Americans', 11% are indifferent, and 17% are 'ashamed to be Americans'.

A Gallup poll stated that, for the 2004 election, 74% believe Bush won fair and square, 12% believe he won on a technicality, and 14% believe he 'stole the election'. They would always believe this no matter what, nevermind that the GOP also won Senate, House, and Governorship majorities.

A Zogby Poll stated that 80% approve of the War in AFGHANISTAN, 6% were not sure, and 14% oppose it.

A Zogby Poll stated that 85% are angry about 9/11, but 11% say America deserve it.

Bill O'Reilly has stated that about 15% of Americans 'hate their country'. This is unscientifically estimated, but does sync up with the pattern we see above.

All these leads me to conclude that about 12-14% hate America, and 8-10% are actively doing various things (like supporting ACLU and CAIR lawsuits to defend terrorists, or supporting Ward Churchill, etc.) to undermine America.

Here is a definition that I accept:

fifth column n. A clandestine subversive organization working within a country
to further an invading enemy's military and political aims.

For me the key wording is "working". I understand this to be taking some illegal action.

Sedition qualifies as being in a fifth column for me. The legal difference between sedition and treason consists primarily in the subjective ultimate object of the violation to the public peace. Sedition does not consist of "levying war" against a government nor of "adhering to [its] enemies, giving them aid and comfort" (Article Three, U.S. Constitution). Nor does it consist, in most representative democracies, of peaceful, non-violent protest against a government, nor of attempting to change the government by democratic means (such as direct democracy or constitutional convention).

With these definitions that I accept, I think 8-10% is a little high. But I doubt an active fifth columnist would proclaim their bad acts.

I also include treason. Article Three defines treason as only levying war against the United States or "in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort," and requires the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act or a confession in open court for conviction. This safeguard may not be foolproof since Congress has, at times passed statutes creating treason-like offences with different names (such as sedition in the 1789 Alien and Sedition Acts, or espionage and sabotage in the 1917 Espionage Act) which do not require the testimony of two witnesses, and have a much wider definition than Article Three treason. For example, some well-known spies have been convicted of espionage rather than treason. In the United States Code the penalty ranges from "shall suffer death" to "shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."

OK. The 8-10% I state is an umbrella I use to cover those who are actively taking a side against America. That is a broad brush.

It ranges from supporting Ward Churchill, to people like John Walker Lindh who joined the Taliban, to Cindy Sheehan who is best friends with Hugo Chavez, to lawyers who defend terrorists in court and clamour for their civil rights.

The actions taken vary in nature. All these rolled up together comprise the 8-10%.

OK, we have roughly quantified the fifth column. Can we coexist with a fifth column - probably. Should we coexist - no.

I say, prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Use all the laws available including the Patriot Act. Hunt them down because they have done us harm. Deter, scare, intimitade, do whatever it takes that is legal.

I agree. Treason, even if only the donation of money to a vocally anti-US, pro-terrorist group, should be prosecuted.

That is the minimum of what would happen in most other countries.

Well, most people who oppose both the war in iraq AND the patriot act, in my opinion, do so because (A) the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the larger war on terror. Sure, there are some "weak linkages" as we know, but the larger war on terror would probably have been better served with another strategy than invading Iraq of all places.

And (B) because the Patriot Act is a violation of the very way of American life that the terrorists are hoping to shake. By killing our own civil liberties, we are letting the terrorists essentially "win."

Not to mention that 'racial profiling' doesn't work because the minute you start doing that, the terrorists will don a disguise that makes them look the exact opposite of the racial profile you're most trying to monitor.


Well, then, what are you suggestions for fighting Al-Qaeda?

Or are you someone who thinks America is the villain, and they are just reacting to what America did to them?

My suggestions:

Garnering full global support and imposing financial, economic, diplomatic pressures on countries harboring terrorist organizations for an organic upheavel of such regimes, rather than militarily ousting them, and then having to deal with insurgencies, American deaths, etc.

As for you second comment/question, I never suggested such a thing so why the presumptuous comment?


OK. I believe that what you suggest was already being applied to Iran. It may have partially worked for a time, but they still managed to pursue nuclear weapons, and are threatening to use them.

They are forcing a military confrontation. It need not happen if they cooperate with the world more, but they are leaving the West with little choice.

It's nice how well people here have and with no forethought, successfully quantified and established the appropriate action to take against a currently unidentified 8-10% of Americans. Let's just round them all up and prosecute or put in jail all 23 to 29 million of them. And of course you know who these "fifth columnists" are since you have so well defined them with poll data and instructions from Bill O'Reilly.

I oppose Patriot act provisions that violate the Constitution. Provisions regarding institutions working together I have no problem with. Monitoring foreigners, no problem. I do have a problem with provisions that encourage spying on Americans. From my vantage point, the current administration seems hell bent on ripping the Constitution to shreds. It also acts in almost total secrecy, so excuse me if I don't believe you when you say there is no evidence that rights have been violated.

Will you be so comfortable giving the govt so much power if your President were a Democrat or are you convinced that the GOP will rule from on high for a 1000 years.

The message I get from this blog is that friendly fascism is appropriate and should be encouraged, because only through a fascist govt can we fight the terrorists. As far as I'm concerned I agree with only one great American.

"He who sacrifices essential liberty for security deserves neither."--Ben Franklin

Another troublemaker you probably despise.


So, if an immigrant from an Arab nation becomes a naturalized US citizen, and corresponds with Al-Qaeda members overseas, do you SUPPORT or OPPOSE wiretapping him (with a warrant, of course)?

Anti-American leftists criticize both the Patriot Act and Iraq war on hindsight and theoretical arguments, but offer NO suggestions on how to win the War on Terror.

This logically brings up the suspicion that you are actually not on America's side to begin with. Why else would you oppose everything, and suggest no practical alternatives?

So answer the question in the first paragraph above. I suspect you won't.


I find it interesting that your practical solution mantra involves so few naturalized Americans as to be laughable. Read everyones emails, look at their library records, look at their bank records and wiretap everyone to catch that one Arab.

Do you honestly think the CIA and the FBI aren't checking and double checking Arabs or anyone else for that matter before they allow them to become a naturalized citizens? If a candidate for citizenship appeared on any terrorist watch list for any reason, do you honestly think they would even let them become citizens? You don't just go down to the corner drugstore or the local DMV and become a citizen over the weekend. It is a long legal process that takes months, if not years. If our gov't is so incompetent that they can't find a terrorist before they become a citizen, no amount of wiretapping will help.

So basically, your well thought out point is to throw at me a fictional boogeyman we should be able to root out before they become an American and to accuse me of hating America.

I won't sacrifice my freedoms for the illusion of security and our forefathers felt the same way. The cost you inflict is too high for the America I love.


Under the false slogan of 'sacrificing your freedoms', you ignore basic realities of how terrorists could strike.

What about people who became citizens before 9/11, when the regulations were loose? Several of these have, in fact, been found, despite the seditious left's objections to apprehending them.

You have not answered the question, so I will pose it again, with a slight adjustment :

If a Muslim immigrant became a naturalized US citizen BEFORE 9/11/01, and corresponds with Al-Qaeda members overseas, do you SUPPORT or OPPOSE wiretapping him (with a warrant, of course)?

For someone who claims to love America, you actually want to oppose the Patriot Act, even though it passed 98-1 in the Senate, with the votes of Kerry, Edwards, Kennedy, Clinton, Biden, Boxer, etc. I find your patriotism suspicious at best.

Answer the question.

In regards to your hypothetical naturalized Muslim/Al Qaeda correspondent: This is precisely the sort of case that FISA was designed to handle ("Since 50 U.S.C § 1802 (a)(1)(A) of this act specifically limits warrantless surveillance to foreign powers as defined by 50 U.S.C. §1801(a) (1),(2), (3) and omits the definitions contained in 50 U.S.C. §1801(a) (4),(5),(6) the act does not authorize the use of warrantless surveillance on: groups engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor; foreign-based political organizations, not substantially composed of United States persons; or entities that are directed and controlled by a foreign government or governments. [8] Under the FISA act, anyone who engages in electronic surveillance except as authorized by statute is subject to both criminal penalties [10a] and civil liabilities. [11a]").

All the NSA needs to do is present the rubber stamp FISA court with the faintest whiffs of probable cause and the warrant is theirs. This is a swift process, and can be expedited for cases in which such action is necessary.


Arabs naturalized before 9/11. Boy are you reaching. Terrorist watch lists did not suddenly spring into being after 9/11. The FBI and the CIA did not suddenly start tracking terrorists and terrorist operatives after 9/11. They did not create strict naturalization rules just after 9/11. Becoming a naturalized citizen has always been a multi-month process. You have always had to do more than just take a naturalization test to become a citizen, a fact that is true for most countries.

As for rules to cover the couple of instances you speak of, as Petomai astutely pointed out, FISA rules already exist and you can even secretly wiretap the Arab neighbors you fearfully live next door to you as long as you get a court order within 48 hours.

As for your lauded 98-1 vote, the first Patriot Act was passed with little or no discussion. I also do not know of any Democratic Senators who had the opportunity to read the provisions in depth before the Act was brought to a vote. Of course, Republicans currently possess all of the reigns of power, which allows them to get away with such (at least in spirit) undemocratic tactics, so back off with that garbage argument.

Furthermore, I never said every provision of the Patriot Act should be eliminated, just those that give the govt the power to encroach on my freedoms. Go back and reread my first post. You seem to have a short memory.

Once again GK gallops down the road of fascism in the interest of the illusion of security. And yet, not surprisingly, like all fascists thoughout history, you question MY Patriotism?

Next you'll question the patriotism of the people at the CATO institute. They oppose these same provisions. I guess those freedom loving Republicans are not good 'muricans either


You actually believe the Michael Moore Kool-Aid that all the Democrats that voted for the Patriot Act did not read it? They have staff that summarizes all this for them, you know. That all of them avoided reading it, and not even one of them read it enough to ask questions, is something only the most naive of Kool-Aid drinkers would believe. It passed with no discussion because it *keeps America sage*, something the far-left (of which you are a member) does not want.

What will you say when it passes by 90+ votes again?

Anyway, answer my question. It is a question of PRINCIPLE :

"If a Muslim immigrant became a naturalized US citizen BEFORE 9/11/01, and corresponds with Al-Qaeda members overseas, do you SUPPORT or OPPOSE wiretapping him (with a warrant, of course)?"

Answer the question.

And yes, I question your Patriotism. Why else would you criticize every provision made to fight terror and refuse to place any blame on Islamic terrorists, but offer no alternative suggestions? In any other country, at any other time in History, this would be considered fifth-column behavior. Actions speak louder than words (particularly dishonest leftist words).

Your type has been found out for being phonies. That is why you lost the last election in such a massive, humiliating manner.

So answer my simple question.


As someone who trys to keep up on both libertarian and leftist theory/practice, believe me: there is no self-respecting (or at least half-educated) leftist who is going to quote Michael Moore in a discussion of any substance. Michael Moore is precisely the same as Ann Coulter: a loudmouthed, manipulative, button-pushing mascot. That stated and out of the way, I don't believe that ESL made any mention of congressmembers failing to read the USA PATRIOT ACT. He stated-- quite accurately, and entirely without partisan import-- that the act was passed "with little or no discussion".

As for your question, "If a Muslim immigrant became a naturalized US citizen BEFORE 9/11/01, and corresponds with Al-Qaeda members overseas, do you SUPPORT or OPPOSE wiretapping him (with a warrant, of course)?"

My simple answer to this question (and I don't presume to speak for ESL but I believe that he'll agree) is SUPPORT, WITH A LEGALLY-OBTAINED WARRANT.

There. And here is where the question comes in: does the Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force by the President in furtherance of the war on terror constitute the nullifying "statue" to which the FISA law refers. Gonzales et. al. say Yes. Many others say No, and the preponderance of Washington legal opinion tends to feel the same.

Therefore, if the President of the United States has indeed violated the FISA law (also, I'd advise you to poke about in the news for Gonzales' recent admission the the NSA wiretapping program is more extensive than he spoke of in the Subcommitte hearings...possibly including surveillance of domestic-to-domestic calls) then he is guilty of a federal crime. Just as Clinton was impeached for perjuring himself (a federal crime), so must be Bush. If, indeed, he is guilty.
The American way is defined by the rule of law. There are no exceptions.
Second-- here's something Mark Twain said:
We teach them to take their patriotism at second-hand; to shout with the largest crowd without examining into the right or wrong of the matter--exactly as boys under monarchies are taught and have always been taught. We teach them to regard as traitors, and hold in aversion and contempt, such as do not shout with the crowd, and so here in our democracy we are cheering a thing which of all things is most foreign to it and out of place--the delivery of our political conscience into somebody else's keeping. This is patriotism on the Russian plan.

oops...correction...ESL did say that no Democratic senators read USA PATRIOT ACT in depth. Me, I can't really say, as I have no information on the subject. Correction made, though.

privatize the prisons and lock up 23-30 million americans. Gee sounds a bit radical to me. I thought you were the lone voice of mainstream america. You must not feel that you are American enough? where are you from? I sense a complex, a not american enough complex. I know of a few asian americans like that. One korean kid in college was nazi fan. Couldnt figure him out either.


Sounds like you are projecting your own baggage onto others.

So answer one simple questions :

1) If you oppose the Patriot Act, what is your alternative suggestion for preventing terrorist attacks in America?

Go ask you white liberal master for an answer, and report back.

We can't always prevent terrorist attacks from happening. BUT we can to everything in our power to elimate them. And anyone who thinks that fighting and capturing terrorists/groups is wrong, needs to wake up and smell the roses! We are making the world a safer place by eliminating the danger! And why people think that 'turning the other cheek' and being friends with the terrorists is going to better the world, is beyond me! They don't want to be friends! They want to KILL! So I say good luck to all those anti-war folks who want to make nice with mass murderers

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