Montana Politics US Politics

Fact Check on Conrad Burns, Part 2

Burns (on the Patriot Act): "We've not no liberties and we've lost no freedoms. None whatsoever. Nobody…nobody has complained about that."


  • ABC News reports that "Just half the public now says the United States government is doing enough to protect the rights of Americans citizens as it conducts the war on terrorism, down from 61 percent to 74 percent in polls in 2002 and 2003.
  • Former Congressman Bob Barr (about as conservative as they come) and the ACLU have identified specific violations of our rights in the Patriot Act: "the act allows federal agents to gather highly personal information — including library, medical and gun purchase records– without criminal suspicion, permits secret searches of homes and businesses with indefinite notification, and expands the definition of domestic terrorism to potentially include political protest."
  • The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School Identified these concerns about the Patriot Act: These enhanced surveillance powers license law enforcement officials to peer into Americans' most private reading, research, and communications. Several of the Act's hastily passed provisions not only violate the privacy and confidentiality rights of those using public libraries and bookstores, but sweep aside constitutional checks and balances by authorizing intelligence agencies (which are within the executive branch of government) to gather information in situations that may be completely unconnected to a potential criminal proceeding (which is part of the judicial branch of government). The constitutional requirement of search warrants, to be issued by judges, is one such check on unbridled executive power.

Burns (referring to the Hurricane Katrina): "The states (sic) in order to bring FEMA in has to request it. They have to request it and that was never done."


  • On August 27th, 2005, two days before Katrina made landfall, the President declared a state of emergency and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local responses efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina.
  • The Louisiana National Guard requested 700 buses from FEMA, but only 100 were sent to help in the evacuation.
  • Congress and President Bush systematically reduced the influence and power of FEMA before Katrina.

Burns: "I don't believe in raising taxes."


  • Yes, he does. As long as they are college students or parents, dealing with the high cost of tuition.

Burns: "We tried to get a balanced budget amendment. We tried to get a line item veto. They were killed both by the Democrats in Washington, D.C."

Fact: Flatly untrue. The Line Item Veto Act was passed in 1996, and struck down by the Supreme Court in Clinton v. City of New York (1996).

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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