Monday, June 6, 2011

Ron Paul Strongly Opposes Extending the PATRIOT Act


Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this extension of the three provisions of the misnamed PATRIOT Act. It is a travesty that the House and Senate leadership bring this measure to the floor at the 11th hour--just as the provisions are on the verge of sunsetting--hide it as an amendment to an unrelated Senate bill, and issue all manner of alarmist warnings that if we do not pass it without delay a terrorist attack is imminent. No amendments were allowed, nor were substantive opportunities to engage in a broader debate on the three measures being extended.

Let us be clear about one thing: the PATRIOT Act is unconstitutional. The three measures that were extended today were the most controversial sections of the original bill, which is why the sunset provisions for these were built into in the original bill in the first place. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is clear on these issues:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Section 206 and Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which the House is renewing today, remove that particularity requirement, allowing massive surveillance of American citizens' most private and personal effects.

These sections, along with the never used "Lone Wolf" provision are unnecessary, they do not protect us against terrorism, and they should be allowed to sunset. There is little evidence the PATRIOT Act has directly led to the conviction of anyone on serious terrorism charges, but there is plenty of evidence that federal agencies have repeatedly used its provisions to unnecessarily spy on American citizens.

I remain most strongly opposed to the PATRIOT Act and any such attack on the civil liberties of American citizens. Such measures may be well-intentioned and put in place under the belief that the sacrifice of liberty is required for our safety, but nothing could be further from the truth.

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