September 11, 2001 launched a massive push by the United States government to invade the privacy of the American citizen. Less than two months after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and President George W. Bush readily signed it.
USA PATRIOT Act stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. The Act allowed law enforcement agencies a greater latitude in gathering intelligence on US citizens, regulating financial transactions involved with terrorism and dealing with the detention and deportation of immigrants suspected of any involvement related to terrorism.
On May 26, 2011, President Barack Obama signed a four year extension of the principle aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act. The extension, known as the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, expanded the authorization of law enforcement and federal agencies to conduct roving wiretaps, conduct necessary surveillance on ‘lone wolves’ or basically anyone they so named and to search through the business records of any one or any company they suspected of having anything to do with terrorism.
Under these broadened guidelines, all the feds have to do is say that they suspect Dave Jolly has something to do with terrorism or poses a threat to national security and they will have legal access to more information about me than what I know about me. The feds have interpreted both acts in such a way as they believe they have the legal right to spy and intercept our phone records, emails and internet activity without our knowledge or consent. If you challenge the legality of their actions, they’ll tell you it’s legal because they say it is.
Sen. Rand Paul has vowed to challenge the legality of all of the NSA and FBI spying on Americans.
Oh how I wish we could get someone like Andy Griffith to run the Department of Justice or the National Security Agency. His ethics and stand for the law and a person’s privacy is what America needs now, more than ever.