Free and open societies don’t enact police state laws like the USA Patriot Act – ever for any reason.
Lawyer Nancy Chang said earlier “(t)here’s nothing patriotic about trampling on the Bill of Rights.”
The legislation was written, on the shelf, ready to go long before 9/11 – awaiting an excuse to introduce and enact what no free society would tolerate.
Washington capitalized on a window of hysteria to grant unchecked executive powers. The legislation was congressionally passed and signed by George Bush on October 26, 2001 – 45 days after 9/11.
It state sponsored terror committed by the government of the United States against its own people. The mother of all Big Lies claims otherwise.
The Patriot Act’s text was 342 pages long. It controversially changed 15 US laws. It created the crime of domestic terrorism for the first time – defined as “acts dangerous to human life…that appear to be intended:
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping…”
In other words, anti-war or global justice demonstrations, environmental or animal rights activism, civil disobedience, and dissent of any kind may be called “domestic terrorism.”
The Patriot Act circumvented or seriously eroded key Bill of Rights protections – not for security, for police state empowerment. Affected are:
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights – initially permitting indefinite detentions of undocumented immigrants, now leaving anyone anywhere in the world, including US citizens, vulnerable for any reason or none at all.
First Amendment freedom of association rights – an essential part of free expression. Now anyone may be charged and prosecuted for their alleged association with an “undesirable group.”
Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches and seizures. Personal privacy rights were lost.
Authorized unchecked government surveillance powers to access personal records, monitor financial transactions, as well as student, medical and other records.
Mass monitoring became standard practice. Expiration of three controversial provisions discussed in a separate article changed little.
Big Brother’s intrusive power was barely touched, and expired provisions may be reinstated in new form – either in the USA Freedom Act introduced or other legislation later on.
USAF only modestly rolls back the intelligence community’s “collect it all” strategy – likely not enough to matter given how the NSA, FBI, CIA and other US agencies routinely operate, circumventing restraints put on them unaccountably.
Patriot Act Section 806 lets authorities confiscate or freeze all foreign and domestic assets of any individual, entity, or organization accused of engaging in, planning, supporting, concealing, or perpetrating any act called domestic or international terrorism against America – true or false, with no hearing, notice or justice.
Vague language in other provisions give authorities wide latitude to twist the law perversely and advantageously, targeting anyone for anything called terrorism, whether justified or not.
Key Patriot Act powers were extended in March 2006 and May 2011 – likely again this year in USA Freedom Act form as debate in the Senate heads toward perhaps resolution on Tuesday.
The measure passed the House earlier. If the Senate version differs, reconciliation between both will follow.
Democracy in America is pure fantasy. Illusion substitutes for reality.
Police state ruthlessness is the law of the land. Patriot Act repression is Exhibit A.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”. www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html Visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com.