This is worth a lengthy read, but here are the highlights. Patriot II would:
- Dramatically widen the government’s ability to compel information from ISPs, colleagues, family members, etc. – without prior notification.
- Create end runs around limitations on surveillance and information sharing.
- Create broad new exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act.
- Increase the breadth of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), lowering thresholds for initiating surveillance and limiting court oversight.
- Broaden the scope of the law’s applicability, in many cases running far afield of the war on terrorism.
You can read the full text of the draft legislation here (HTML) or here (12 MB PDF file). Other links that provide background and analysis:
- ACLU section-by-section analysis of the legislation.
- Comments of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Democratic Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Analysis by Prof. David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center
By any measure, this legislation (much like its predecessor) is creating a definition of patriotic that I want no part of. Far from showing an abiding trust in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, this administration appears to be afraid of them.
I’ll close with a quote that seems a propos:
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. […] The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of tho world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
(John F. Kennedy, Inauguration Speech, January 20, 1961.)
Or, I guess we could just tell Americans what rights we’ll take from them in this time of need, and demand compliance from our fellow citizens of the world. Maybe that could work too.