…it was crafted with skill and care, determination and a spirit of bipartisanship… This bill met with an overwhelming—overwhelming—agreement in Congress… The elected branches of our Government and both political parties are united in our resolve…
Wait for it, wait for it…
It is now my honor to sign into law the USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001.
The statement is worth reading in its entirety…but I would suggest watching it too. Look at the faces of those involved.
It was only 45 days since 9/11. Much of the country was still in shock, the economy was in “crisis”, and few were up to being skeptical of our leadership when foreign evil was active on our shores. Do you remember your reaction at the time?
How does the lens of 2023 American impact your reaction to those words and faces today?
I have my own thoughts. And regrets. I will add some of those in more detail later but I will say now that my focus is largely on these other important, job defining words: “I do solemnly swear that I…will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
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Follow-Up Thoughts as added two days after original post: Do I wish Al Gore was is a position to sign such a law? No. Would the law have been much worse if crafted under and Al Gore administration? Clearly, yes. But none of that diminishes the fact the President George W. Bush did an incredibly bad job of “preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States.”
Over his years in office, I was a rather strong supporter of “W”…despite the insulting “compassionate conservative” marketing gimmick during his campaign. It was not hard given the (still maturing) habitual intellectual dishonesty of the national media and the fully subversive Democrat party (see the list of D Senators that voted for the use of force in Iraq and then turned immediately to undercutting every effort to succeed). But the arc of history and progression of the slow, managed decline of the Republic since provide a very unflattering perspective on his service. His selective silence and selective non-silence since have only provided additional support for the view that he was not really up to the job.
Sunset clauses are a good safety feature but, especially a mere 45 days after something like 9/11, actual good legislation should have been the priority. Even if that takes another 45 days (or longer). It would have taken quite a backbone for this rookie President to push for that against the elders of his party in Congress and in his Cabinet (notice the rather large “support group” huddled close during the presser)…but that is what the country really needed and what the job description demanded. (One wonders if he would have done better if these things had happened in 2005 instead of so early in his DC career.)
You will just have to take my word for it – I have no real proof – but I was greatly disappointed with this celebrated new law on many levels as I watched the press event from my hotel in Buffalo after coming off a long third shift in the wind tunnel. Unfortunately, with what I know today, I wasn’t disappointed enough.