Thursday, April 3, 2008

Patriot Act: Bringing down politicians one prostitute at a time

Last night on his HBO show, Bill Maher made a great point. Despite allegations that former NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer violated 80+ year old anti-prostitution laws, the actual law that snagged Spitzer was none other than the US Patriot Act, which provides banks the legal groundwork to monitor private financial transactions.

It has been well known for a few years that the Patriot Act has been far more effective at fighting prostitution and other more mundane crimes than terrorism. In the wake of the Spitzer scandal, however, this is now a pattern when the Patriot Act has been used to bring down politicians, including Spitzer and former AL Gov. Don Siegelman.

In most of the these cases, the perpetrators are criminals would should be brought to justice. However, most of these are cases where under pre-9/11 consensuses about privacy and civil liberties, they would not have been caught. The question remains whether the waning of civil liberties that the public agreed to in the wake of 9/11 is justified for fighting non-terrorism crimes.

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