Many people sent me links to various critiques of the Patriot Act. For the reasons I mentioned in my original post, it’s very difficult to find objective evaluations of the law. Two stand out: this one by Reason magazine and this editorial on Capitalism magazine.
After doing some reading, I’ve been convinced that the Act has major flaws, of which the primary one is not that it gives too much power to the government, but that it is too vague about which powers it actually provides for. The great danger of a tyranny is not that it has too much power, but that its power is expressed by the arbitrary and unpredictable whims of some bureaucrat or dictator. I stand by my original claim however: unrestricted liberty requires a system of objective laws, under which the government has all and only the power it needs to find and punish criminals.