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Incessant warmaking overseas will someday end when the United States runs out of money or soldiers or both. But less well understood is the collateral damage here at home where the consequences of the global war on terror will linger on in the form of a shattered constitution. The Patriot Act is generally promoted as the principal legislative tool being used to fight international terrorism. It is, in reality, a devastating and poorly conceived bit of legislation originally approved just after 9/11. It will soon be up for an extension in the US Senate. President Barack Obama, who criticized it while he was a candidate but apparently has had a change of heart since that time, favors its renewal. Most members of Congress, few of whom have ever read the entire act, want it renewed. The mainstream media likes it because who can resist patriotism?
That is the bad news. But there is also some good news. Libertarians, traditional conservatives, progressives, and even some tea partiers are for the first time uniting to stop the extension. Senator Rand Paul led the charge in the Senate back in February, resulting in a temporary 90 day continuation of key provisions of the act that will expire in May. Before that happens, the Patriot Act will again be up for Senatorial approval but this time there will be an open debate in front of the full Senate and under the scrutiny of the media. It will be the first time that has happened since 2001. There will also be a roll call vote with each Senator having to come down for or against. It is an opportunity not to be missed to roll back the tide of government intrusion in the life of every citizen.