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9:51 am
Fri October 28, 2011

Otter's View on Patriot Act Still Stands Years Later

Boise, ID - This week (October 26th) marks the tenth anniversary of the Patriot Act. The law has been widely criticized by civil liberty advocates as unconstitutional. Ten years ago it passed overwhelmingly. But one Idaho congressman stood against it.

Right after September 11th 2001 congress put new measures in place to go after terrorists. Only one Senator voted against the Patriot Act, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. In the House of Representatives a small percentage of Democrats voted no and three Republicans. They were perennial presidential hopeful Ron Paul, Bob Ney of Ohio and then Idaho congressman Butch Otter.

Butch Otter 1 “I thought it was a fundamental violation of the constitution."

Otter, who's now Idaho's governor, still says the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. He says it upsets the balance of powers.

Butch Otter “In essence what the legislative branch did was give the executive branch license to search anywhere, tap anybody’s phone, do anything they want.”

The Patriot Act did cancel out many electronic privacy laws and give the FBI and others unprecedented wiretapping and surveillance abilities. It also allowed law enforcement to demand documents from citizens without warrants or statements of probable cause. Otter has softened his position somewhat in the past ten years. He now says some of the Patriot Act was necessary. He points to parts that allow seizure of financial records of suspected terrorists. But Otter says, he would vote the same way today.