The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Friday, May 21, 2004

Quick, who said this?
Did you know that under the USA Patriot Act, the Department of Justice can obtain a warrant to read the e-mail or library or academic records of university students, staff or faculty? And that all the agency has to do to get the warrant is say that the information is related to an investigation involving espionage or terrorism?

It's true. And what's more, the Department of Justice can do it in secret, without ever telling the subject of the investigation that it did so. That latter provision is particularly troubling, because if the subject doesn't know about the search, then there's no one to challenge it in court. No one, that is, unless the custodian of the documents at the university is himself or herself prepared to say no.
Dennis Kucinich? Russ Feingold?

The next paragraph should tell you:
It's an outrageous invasion of privacy and a violation of academic freedom. That is why the UC Berkeley Faculty Senate took a stand against it by a vote of 105 to 0, with no abstentions, on May 6.

We voted — at my urging and that of several other professors — because of a fundamental constitutional question raised by the provision: Does a search of a student's or staff member's e-mail or a faculty member's library records, based simply on the Justice Department's saying that it is "related to" an investigation of terrorism, satisfy the 4th Amendment's requirement that "no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause"? The Patriot Act does not require any showing of probable cause. Is that constitutional?
Someone from the Berkeley faculty. Lakoff? Ted Kaczinsky? (hehe)

Nope, that would be longtime Republican California State Senator Tom Campbell, former human sacrifice GOP Senate candidate against Dianne Feinstein, and now dean of the prestigious and selective Hass School of Business. (link via calstuff)

In my PS155 mock congress, we just passed an extention of the Patriot Act (despite my passionate speech in opposition), so this has been on my mind as of late. It's quite interesting that when people are in a position where the Patriot Act could have a direct significant effect on them, opposition to it expands far beyond the "out-of-step liberals", as the Bushies put it, and transcends ideology. And in general, civil libertarian-oriented conservatives have as much a problem with the law as many Democrats do.


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