Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

June 21, 2013

Another government bombshell

(Continued)

A few Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee have spoken publicly for years about how the government is using secret interpretations of the 2001 Patriot Act — passed six weeks after Sept. 11, 2001 — in a way that would astound Americans. On March 15, 2012, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Col.) went so far as to write Attorney General Eric Holder a letter about “this problem of secret law.”

They said they thought most Americans would be “stunned” to learn how the government is interpreting a portion of the Patriot Act. They added, “As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.”

Mr. Holder does not think the DOJ overreach in monitoring journalists warrants a major overhaul of his organization. He told NBC that, “I’m a little concerned that things have gotten a little out of whack … I think we can do a better job than we have. We can reform those regulations, reform those guidelines to better reflect that balance.”

But I wonder how he and President Barack Obama will answer to the Verizon revelations. Does blanket monitoring amount to things being “a little out of whack”? Are better (secret?) regulations all that are needed to prevent a mass violation of the Constitution’s protection against illegal search and seizure not only against journalists but all Americans?

If the IRS and journalist scandals are chilling, the Verizon court order is absolute zero. The 9/11 terrorists would be proud. They brought down planes, buildings and killed nearly 3,000. But in birthing the Patriot Act, they helped to kill America from the inside out.

— Marta H. Mossburg is an independent columnist. Contact her at  marta@martamossburg.com.

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