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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Patriot Act unleashed the assault on liberty with consequences far beyond expectations.

Before the Patriot Act, information gained through special national security orders could not be used in regular criminal court. The Patriot Act, for the first time, allowed information gained through extralegal maneuvers to be used in criminal court for crimes unrelated to terrorism. At the time, authors of the Patriot Act said, “Don’t worry. We will never do that.” I asked former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey precisely that question, and he reassured me, as a parent reassures a child, that we are good people, and will never use illegally obtained information in regular court. This reminds me of President Obama’s promises never to detain American citizens without trial. Only time will tell if that promise is kept.

The more you realize the incestuous relationships between these agencies, the more questions that are raised. Reuters noted, “The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security.”

The New York Times reported last week that NSA officials have been dealing internally with “other federal intelligence agencies that want to use its surveillance tools for their own investigations.”

Each new agency scandal or revelation — whether the IRS, Department of Justice, NSA or now, the DEA — paints a picture of a domestic and national security apparatus run amok. Our long-standing tradition of balancing liberty against security is now threatened by an emerging Washington mentality in which no liberty is protected against the greater need for security.

When it was revealed that the NSA was spying on all of us, Washington simply circled the wagons and defended the program. The Bill of Rights became an afterthought.

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