In the special election for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, the Patriot Act has become issue number one this week. A statement from candidate Martha Coakley in support of the Patriot Act’s programs of government spying against American citizens was uncovered at the beginning of the week. Coakley’s campaign still has not released a statement on its web site to explain her statements defending the Patriot Act. Her press office is trying to pretend the growing scandal of Coakley’s support for Bush’s spying programs just doesn’t exist.
In a debate tonight, however, Coakley could not avoid the subject. When confronted by rival Michael Capuano, Coakley put her foot in her mouth again. “The Patriot Act is about keeping people safe without violating civil rights,” Coakley said.
Here Coakley is again, in 2009, defending the Patriot Act. Hearing Coakley give this statement, we have to wonder whether she is completely ignorant of recent developments regarding the Patriot Act. Keeping people safe? Did she not watch Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in which it was revealed that only 0.39 percent (no, not 39 percent) uses of Patriot Act sneak and peek spying powers last year were used in cases connected to terrorism? Without violating civil rights? Has Coakley not heard the revelations today that the government has, just over the last year, and just from Sprint Nextel, made 8 million separate demands, likely under Patriot Act authority, for Americans’ private global positioning system (GPS) data?
Whether Martha Coakley is truly clueless about the Patriot Act, or is just using the illusion of ignorance to cover for a seething hatred of the constitutional rights of Americans under the Fourth Amendment, she is clearly the wrong choice to succeed Edward Kennedy.
Another Democrat running for Senate in Massachusetts, U.S. Representative Michael Capuano, had the integrity to vote against the Patriot Act at the start, when it was shoved through Congress back in 2001. It wasn’t a politically easy thing to do back then, but it was the right thing to do. For citizens of Massachusetts who respect the Constitution of the United States of America, Capuano seems the better candidate.