Patriot Act: A License to Steal

If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times. Every time I warned that new, unlimited police powers under the Patriot Act could be used by the FBI against law-abiding citizens, some conservative know-nothing would insist, “Oh, no. The FBI would never do anything like that!”

Oh, yeah? Well, now we know: The FBI could, and would, and did.

Thanks to a report by the Justice Department’s own inspector general, we now know the FBI used “national security letters,” under the Patriot Act, without a court order -- and without any evidence of links to terrorists -- to obtain phone, bank, and credit card records of thousands of innocent Americans.

It’s just the latest example of this Justice Department, under Alberto Gonzales, acting like George Bush’s Gestapo: trampling on civil liberties, breaking the law, and trashing the Constitution.

Remember the NSA spying program. Remember the torture of prisoners of war. Remember the hundreds of prisoners held for over four years at Guantanamo Bay without the right to talk to an attorney. Remember the most recent political purge of eight U.S. attorneys. All shameful cases of injustices, carried out under the orders of political hit man Alberto Gonzales -- who makes John Ashcroft seem like a voice of reason.

If there were any doubt before, there is none now. The Patriot Act has nothing to do with the so-called war on terror. It is simply one more excuse for zealots in the FBI to trample on our basic freedoms.

The Patriot Act doesn’t need fixing. Democrats in Congress should repeal it -- now!