PAUL IS AT BEST LUKEWARM ABOUT THE USA PATRIOT ACT
If you felt a great weight lifted from your shoulders recently, it was your civil liberties being plucked from your weary shoulders by the loving hands of John Ashcroft. You've probably heard by now of the USA PATRIOT Act (which stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America Act by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism", so I guess it should really be called the USA Act by PATRIOT) which, along with a handful of recent decisions by the Attorney General, guarantee that you no longer need be troubled by all that existential freedom you were always complaining about.
You know that I'm not the kind of man that uses the phrase "Orwellian nightmare" loosely--or at all--but if I were such a man, I might also say that the USA PATRIOT Act is double-plus ungood. But who knows what else I'd say in such a hypothetical situation--I might fly so in the face of logic as to say that a terrorist threat should not be responded to by the betrayal of some of our most fundamental Constitutional rights, such as the following:
- attorney-client privilege
- search and seizure
- due process
- any form of confidentiality
- the right to non-secret, non-military hearings
- All amendments > 0
But of course, in fact, I support none of the abovementioned "rights"--rights only protecting (and in the past, only utilized by) terrorists. I personally support the USA Patriot Act. I think every line is pure genius. But besides the fat 348 pages of congressy goodness in which there's more than enough unconstitutional junk in the trunk to please the most avid admirer of terrorist regimes, there's a lot to love about the name, too. "Uniting
and Strengthening America Act by Providing Appropriate Tools
Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism". That's a great name. They just wrote that out, and it happened to spell USA Patriot! Such a fortuitous turn, considering that's just what the writers of the bill are.
After the dazzlingly appropriately-named bill, however, there's bound to be a little letdown when the next boring old "Financial Gains Amendment" or whatever comes along. What we need is more bills with generically pleasing acronyms. That's where I can help. Using my in-depth knowledge of what Americans like, I've taken the liberty to offer a few suggestions for follow-up bills that are sure to pass.
The FREEDOM Act
(FBI Reads Everyone's Email: Dyn-O-Mite!)
USA PATRIOT already gave all intelligence agencies powers to break into computers to spy on American citizens, while paradoxically increasing punishment for hacking (or "cyber-terrorism"). Great... because the FBI has never overreacted about hackers before. The FREEDOM Act doesn't add any new surveillance powers, but the FBI now has the right to write snotty editor's notes correcting syntax and spelling.
The CLASS Act
(Civil Liberties Are Sucky and Stupid)
Get it? Class act? The senator who presents this act will be wearing a top hat and a monocle.
The PUPPIES Amendment
(People Unconstitutionally Penetrating Privacy is Extra Super)
Who would vote against puppies? Terrorists, that's who. Therefore, names of senators who vote "nay" on this bill will be recorded for addition to the SEXY Motion (q.v.)
The SEXY Motion
(Secret EXecutions: Yum!)
In this act, "terrorism" will be redefined as "any person, place, thing, or event which causes fear." A typical secret military hearing will go like this:
PLAINTIFF: Your honor, I would like you to note that the defendant is scary and has a scary face which scares me.
DEFENDANT: That's just how I look! I have a cleft palate!
PLAINTIFF: I rest my case.
JUDGE: Objection overruled. Shoot him and pile his body with the others!
PLAINTIFF: Hooray for justice!
The senator who presents this motion will be wearing nothing but a top hat and a monocle.
The CLITORIS Act
(Civil Liberty Is Terrible, mORrIS)
Nothing says America like the simple, homespun values of the American clitoris. But like justice in America, it can sure be tough to find! Right, ladies? Ha ha!