Friday, June 04, 2004

The Patriot Act - Hunting Terrorists and Eroding Your Rights One Day at a Time

Proponents of the Patriot Act talk constantly about how the Act is used only against terrorists. How those secret searches of your house - that you'll never know about - is only to be used against terrorists. How that all of us law-abiding citizens have nothing to worry about...

And then you read this.

Now, when you buy a house, you'll have your name run against a list of "specifically designated nationals" who aren't allowed to buy or own property in the US. In order to qualify individuals to be checked out, Executive Order 13224, private individuals buying or selling property are now considered “financial institutions” by the government.

Am I crazy for having this bother me so much? I just don't like the idea of being cross-checked by the feds when engaging in a private transaction. The odds of terrorists laundering money through real estate is minescule. You can't turn it around quickly enough, and the value could drop.

Besides, the SDN database is flawed. As the story states, the name 'Osama bin Laden' wouldn't register a hit, because the feds spell his first name 'Usama.' Wow, that's comforting to know.

And it bothers me that I, and you too, now have to be "cleared", essentially, by the federal government in order to buy a house. Doesn't that bother you? I know it makes me uneasy to say the least.

I suppose what worries me most is the potential for future abuse. As does most of the Patriot Act. It's not the Patriot Act now that is the issue, but what it becomes in 10 or 20 years. The opportunities for abuse are so rife it boggles the mind. How hard would it be for a government employee with a grudge, or trying to "teach" someone a lesson, to add that person's name to the list?

The Law of Unintended Consequences...fear it. Because sooner or later, it'll come down on the Patriot Act.

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