The score on the PATRIOT Act

The Minneapolis Star Tribune runs a good column by David Reinhard via Newhouse News Service on the PATRIOT Act. Reinhard refers to Attorney General Ashcroft’s defense of the act at the annual convention of the Federalist Society in Washington last week.
“‘It is a compliment to all who worked on the Patriot Act to say that it is not constitutionally innovative,’ he noted. ‘The act uses court-tested safeguards and time-honored ideas to aid the war against terrorism, while protecting the rights and lives of citizens.’
“Ashcroft offered a few indisputable facts to undercut the hysteria of the act’s critics. ‘Despite all the hoopla to the contrary … the Patriot Act, which allows for court-approved requests for business records, including library records, has never been used to obtain records from a library,’ he said.
“Congressional oversight is required in the act itself. Another key safeguard is court supervision and standards similar to what’s required in organized-crime, drug and other criminal cases. ‘Many of you have heard the hue and cry from critics … who allege that liberty has been eroded,’ said the attorney general. ‘But more telling is what you have not heard. You have not heard of one single case in which a judge has found an abuse of the Patriot Act because, again, there have been no abuses.’
“So here’s the scorecard: zip, nada, zero.
“Finally, there’s one more zero that Patriot Act foes need to face. That’s the total non-number of terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11. The world has since witnessed Al-Qaida attacks in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Might this have something to do with the Patriot Act — or the convictions or guilty pleas from 155 people under its provisions?”

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