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February 11, 2011

U.S. Patriot Act Up For Renewal

"The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities" ~Zbigniew Brezhinsky, Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission, in Between Two Ages:  America's Role in the Technetronic Era, 1970

The tyrannical and broad-reaching U.S.A Patriot Act is up for renewal before the House of "Representatives."  The Patriot Act, which was passed opportunistically in the days following 9/11/01, gives law enforcement agencies immense powers to address so called 'terrorist threats' by reducing restrictions on their ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records.

The House will return Monday, February 14th, at 2 p.m. to begin work on the Patriot Act renewal, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor  said that this bill, H.R. 514, should be completed the same day, allowing the rest of the week to be devoted to the fiscal year 2011 (or what's left of it as the FY began in October) budget bill.

The Patriot Act gives the government far too much power to spy on Americans without their knowledge, infringing on the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.  The Act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, and therefore enlarged the number of activities to which the Act’s expanded law enforcement powers can be applied.

With social upheaval escalating in the Middle East, could the Patriot Act be just a small mechanism within a coordinated policy among developed nations to counter the global uprising caused by increasing economic inequality by strengthening means of technological surveillance?  So what do we do to protect privacy rights in an ever changing digital world?  We must figure this out before more laws are enacted that affect our lives in the online era, where everything can be monitored and recorded, and as we saw in Egypt, removed at first sign of revolution.

"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government." ~Edward Abbey