The original USA Patriot Act allowed the government to do many bad things. It resulted in the government having the power to spy on Americans without so much as probable cause or a search warrant. It led a court - a secret court that issues rulings that cannot be appealed by anyone except the government - to rule that the Fourth Amendment isn’t really all that important after all.
John Ashcroft wasn’t done. He was just getting warmed up. He is now just finishing up the draft for “Patriot Act II”, officially known as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. This new law would give the government “broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement perogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information,” says the Center for Public Integrity.
The legislation would allow the Justice Department to “detain” anyone secretly and indefinitely, at least until an indictment is secured against the person. It would make it a crime to reveal the identity - or even existence - of such a detainee. The legislation would also allow the government to take away an American citizen’s citizenship if they joined a “terrorist” organization - or even supported a “terrorist” organization!
American citizens who were involved in supposedly “terrorist” activities would suddenly lose access to the Bill of Rights. The Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front are both considered “terrorist” organizations by the Justice Department. Does this mean that some 18-year-old child of privilege who finds a heart and starts rescuing animal test subjects could be arrested secretly - read kidnapped - and denied of his citizenship, and then tried in secret by a military tribunal? You betcha!
It does get better, however. Several months ago Warblogging discussed the New York Police Department’s aspiration to become your Little Irish Brother. In 1971 the NYPD signed a consent decree which prevented it from spying on groups or individuals who weren’t suspected of a crime. Why? Because the NYPD had for years spied on just about everyone who they didn’t like - and had even gone so far as to send photographs and communications intercepts to employers to get people they didn’t like fired. NYPD units such as the infamous “Red Squad” spied on dozens of organisations and thousands of New Yorkers, building huge dossiers that were then shared with the federal government. The consent decree, called the Handschu Agreement, has never really been honored by the NYPD - but they’ve been fighting to get it dismissed ever since September 11. The DSEA would nullify the Handschu Agreement and all similiar agreements made by police departments around the country (and there are a lot of them).
The DSEA would allow the FBI to create a DNA database on “suspected terrorists,” a term defined to “include association with suspected terrorist groups, and non-citizens suspected of certain crimes or of having supported any group designated as terrorist.” In other words, a member of the Animal Liberation Front or an immigrant suspected of certain kinds of theft could suddenly find their DNA samples in a massive government database.
The new law would remove the option of bail in “cases involving terrorism”. The Eighth Amendment states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Certainly a blanket prohibition on bail should be considered excessive bail!
There’s more to the DSEA too, but I urge you to read it yourself (12mb!). Every American should know that their government is trying to destroy American democracy, trying to nullify the Bill of Rights and seeking to create a true American police state. Every American should know that their government is in fact made up of traitors who have lost all respect for the intents of the founders. Every American should know that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft are seeking to create a hereditary Stalinist regime in the United States, one step at a time.
Why do I include Vice President Cheney? The White House has insisted, ever since news of DSEA leaked, that the bill is just a “draft” and that the White House hasn’t even seen it yet. That is a lie. An Office of Legislative Affairs control sheet shows without doubt that Vice President Richard Cheney received a draft of DSEA on January 10, 2003. “Attached for your review and comment is a draft legislative proposal entitled the ?Domestice Security Enhancement Act of 2003,” said the memo from the Office of Legal Policy.
Even so, Department of Justice Public Affairs Director Barbara Comstock lied, telling the Center for Public Integrity that DSEA “is an early discussion draft and it has not been sent to either the Vice President or the Speaker of the House.”
Are we a nation that appreciates our law enforcement agencies lying to us? Are we a nation that wants to go even further in joining the “secret detention club” - a club that includes such models of democracy as Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Soviet Union and China? Are we a nation that wants to simply trust in our government to do right by us? Are we a nation that wants to put supreme power in those who govern us?
The power to govern derives from the consent of the governed. This is a central tenet of Americanism. This law, however, would allow the Justice Department to name Warblogging - or a group that I belong to - a terrorist organisation. Once they’ve done that they’re free to break into my apartment at three in the morning and wake me up at gunpoint. They can take me to a military facility in North Carolina (or, even better, take me to Gitmo) and tell a secret court that I have lost my citizenship by being a member of a terrorist organization. They can then try me in a secret military tribunal and sentence me to life in prison. All secretly. You’ll never know about it. All you’ll know is that Warblogging is no longer being updated. That’s all you’ll know. Me? I’ll rot in a Navy brig for the rest of my life - at least until democracy is restored in this country. I never had an opportunity to convince others to no longer consent to this government. They snatched me before I could write my next article about civil liberties.
This from the administration who has brought us TIPS - a plan to create an American Stasi. This from the administration who has detained American citizen Jose Padilla for 308 days in a military jail without charge. This from the administration who has demonstrated colonialist ambition. This from the administration that seeks Total Information Awareness. This is the administration that is one of the most secretive ever, and a President who said “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”
I urge everyone to immediately read 1984 if you haven’t done so already. If you’ve read it, read it again. Read Common Sense by Thomas Paine. Read the Bill of Rights and the entire Constitution.
DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER
Fortunately the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 hasn’t become law yet. Fortunately it hasn’t even been sent to Congress yet (beyond the copies sent to Speaker Hastert and Vice President Cheney). But it will be sent, mark my words. It must be defeated. I say again, must be defeated.
Please write your congressmen, write your senators. Write to anyone who will listen. Call CNN, call the New York Times and USA Today. Tell them that you demand prime time and front page coverage of DSEA. Tell them that you want analysis of how this law effects civil liberties in this country.
Tell them that you’re an American, that you want to be free.
Courtesy of Warblogging.com