The House of Representatives voted 280-138 Tuesday to reauthorize the Patriot Act, following an 89-10 Senate vote to reauthorize the act last week. The measure has gone to President Bush, who had urged Congress to pass the reauthorization.
The reauthorization makes permanent 14 of 16 provisions of the original Patriot act, adds only minimal protections for civil rights, and adds a provision to restrict the sale of cold medicine. That’s right, cold medicine.
You heard right. Cold medicines are going to be moved behind the counter, and you’re going to have to show ID to purchase them. Plus, you’ll only be able to buy so much of it in any given day or any given month. Whole family’s sick? Too bad. That’s just another thing the Patriot Act will add to the price you pay for the War on Drugs.
And just how did the War on Drugs get mixed up with the War of Terror?
Well, the theory is that drugs are so profitable because of prohibition that terrorists have turned to drug dealing to finance their terror operations. I haven’t run across any actual evidence of this (and send it in if you have any) but it makes for good scare tactics.
Fortunately, you can still buy as many tissues as you want, and with cold medicine restricted, you’ll need them more than ever.
Now, on to the minimal protections added to the reauthorization. If you get a National Security Letter, you would now be able to tell your lawyer about it. And libraries are no longer subject to the National Security Letters unless they also provide Internet access. Not too much improvement here.
And it may be true, as some Republicans claim, that the government has never misused the Patriot Act, but it has indeed been misused.