If Patriot Act II couldn’t pass without uproar, why not quietly add its provisions to other legislation where it will pass unnoticed? It seems that’s just what the Bush administration has been up to, and now the FBI has new power to obtain records from financial institutions without warrant. Even better, financial institutions are defined to include not just banks, credit unions, etc., but also “businesses as insurance companies, travel agencies, real estate agents, stockbrokers, the U.S. Postal Service and even jewelry stores, casinos and car dealerships.”. Great.

And here’s the kicker: much as the Patriot Act forbids librarians from saying whether or not library records have been turned over to the FBI, this new law prohibits businesses from revealing to anyone that the government has requested records.

I can understand why most people don’t give a damn whether the government knows what they’re reading. I don’t agree, I think it’s short-sighted, but I understand. With any luck, people will show a bit more concern about their financial records being monitored and their having no way of knowing.