'Wrong, Dangerous, and Obviously Unconstitutional'

J$P Instant Transcript! The Judge doesn't like what he's hearing about the new Patriot Act.

From Studio-B with Shepard Smith, May 19 2005:

SHEPARD SMITH [FOX NEWS]: President Bush and his political allies in the Senate are looking to expand the powers of the Patriot Act. That's right, expand them. The plan as it's stated now would allow the feds to seize business records without the approval of a judge. Now think about that: would allow them to seize business records without the approval of a judge, as long as they feel those records are necessary for a terror investigation. Some say the Patriot Act is already too invasive. Some say, get on it. From Studio-B, let's bring in Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano. Judge?

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO [FOX NEWS]: Well we don't know exactly what the new Patriot Act will say. Aides to Sen Pat Roberts of Kansas who is in charge of the drafting of the new proposals leaked some information out yesterday. And the leaked information tells us that the new proposal will, as you just told everyone, allow the FBI to seize business records and medical records without going to a judge. Now, the present Patriot Act, and two acts on which it is based and two acts that follow it, allow the FBI to seize records from financial institutions.

SMITH: That's to track the money trail, in theory.

NAPOLITANO: Correct. Of course the government has expanded the definition of financial institutions. It now includes your lawyer's office, your real estate agent's office--

SMITH: Casinos.

NAPOLITANO: --casinos, hotels, and the post office.


NAPOLITANO: So right now the FBI can get your mail and your banking records without going to a judge and without you knowing it. The new proposal, we believe--we haven't seen it in print yet--would expand that power and allow the FBI to get business records and medical records without going to a judge, without you knowing it. Now you may say, well, so what?

SMITH: If you don't have anything to hide, why would you worry about it? I can hear some people.

NAPOLITANO: Right. We fought a revolution to keep British soldiers from doing that, and we put in the constitution that if the FBI or anybody from the government wants anything from you against your will, they have to go to a judge, explain under oath to the judge what the reason is they want it, the judge has to agree with the reason, the reason has to do with some suspicion that you're involved in a crime--and then, and only then, can they get their search warrant. This new Patriot Act, consistent with the old one, would allow the FBI to bypass the constitution. Wrong, dangerous, and obviously unconstitutional.

SMITH: Is it your sense that--obviously the government around us is changing--


SMITH: --and obviously it is. Is it your sense that we're going to a new system of government, and bypassing the constitution, and they're just not telling us about it?

NAPOLITANO: It is my sense--

SMITH: Are we heading toward totalitarianism?

NAPOLITANO: It is my sense that the federal government thinks it can do whatever it wants, and the American public will not be outraged unless it affects them personally. Everyone assumes well, as you said so nicely a few minutes ago, it's not my records they want. I didn't do anything wrong; they can look under my bed. I have nothing to hide. But they forget that that right to privacy is right, integral to the constitution. And we shouldn't give it up.

SMITH: You know, and there may be some who say, well if this bunch wants to check me, let them check me. But this bunch ain't going to be here forever. And the last--judge, totalitarianism?

NAPOLITANO: I think we're getting closer to it. I'm not an alarmist, but I want Americans to know that the Congress is tampering with our fundamental liberties. The Congress should at least do this not behind closed doors--which they are doing--and with an open public debate. So that we know what's going on, and have a chance to weigh in. And no Congressman should vote to impair our constitutional liberties.

SMITH: Judge Andrew Napolitano, thank you.

NAPOLITANO: You're welcome.

posted: Thu - May 19, 2005 at 10:46 PM       j$p  send