Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Creeping Tyranny: Beware!

Patriot Act Fact Sheet

What it is: The so-called “Patriot Act” was pushed through congress in the days following Sept. 11, 2001. Few congressmen had time to read the bill, let alone analyze it. The Bush administration threatened that Congress would be blamed for its inaction following future terrorist attacks if it did not pass. In reality, the bill does little to protect us from terrorism and contains numerous items that Congress had rejected in earlier bills. No discussion or amendments were permitted. It gives the Department of Justice sweeping new unconstitutional powers despite that law officials, many of them Reagan-Bush appointees, say it actually hinders our ability to protect ourselves from terrorism. The proposed “Patriot II” act goes even further to curtail American rights and freedoms.

What it does:
The Patriot Act
Allows the FBI to access your records without a warrant or probably cause. It forces any third party, including doctors, libraries, bookstores, universities, and Internet service providers- to turn over records on their clients or customers.
Forbids disclosure of their seizures. In other words, the FBI can, without a warrant, review what books you are reading and forbid the librarians from informing you that you are being watched.
No longer requires the government to show evidence that the subjects of search orders are an “agent of foreign power,” a requirement that previously protected Americans against abuse of this authority.
Frees the FBI from showing reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity, much less the requirement to show “probable cause” that is listed in the Fourth Amendment.
Removes judicial oversight, a part of checks and balance. Judges would not have the authority to deny any investigation.
Allows surveillance orders to be issued based on one’s First Amendment activities. You could come under investigation because of the books you read, the Web sites you visit, letters to the editor you write, or even attending this rally.
Forbids disclosure of an investigation, denying the individual the right to challenge illegitimate searches.
Violates the Fourth Amendment, which says the government cannot conduct a search without a warrant and showing probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit a crime.
Violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech by prohibiting recipients of search orders from telling others about those orders, where there is no real need for secrecy.
Violates the First Amendment by effectively authorizing the FBI to conduct investigations of American citizens in part of exercising their free speech.
Violates the Fifth Amendment by failing to provide notice – even after the fact – to persons whose privacy has been compromised. Notice is a key element of due process, which is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. Notice allows one to question irregularities in the warrant and forces law enforcement to operate in the open. Without notice, we have created a secret Gestapo.
Allows wiretaps without warrants for criminal prosecution. It effectively revokes your right to speak without your conversations being monitored. The justice department has regularly acted irresponsibly in this area. The FISA (Federal Intelligence and Security Act) Court noted that federal agents applying for warrants had regularly filed false and misleading information.
Puts the CIA back in the business of sping on Americans. This was outlawed due to abuses in the 1970s and earlier when the CIA engaged in widespread spying of protest groups and other Americans.
Creates the crime of “domestic terrorism” in which those supporting groups such as Operation Rescue, Greenpeace, or PETA could come under investigation. Any non-citizen providing assistance to any such group could be detained or deported.
Allows for the indefinite detention of non-citizens, denying them due process.

Chilling. But even worse is Patriot II. It would:
Allow the government to disappear anyone it chooses by not requiring them to identify those being detained.
Allow local authorities to spy on religious and political activities.
Allow chemical plants to operate with no accountability to the communities they occupy. Chemical plants would no longer be required to disclose the public safety threats they pose.
Allow the government to revoke the citizenship of natural born Americans.
Allow property and asset seizures of those participating in civil disobedience.
Allow the deportment to any country of citizens and non-citizens alike, to stand trial before a foreign court without any review from American courts.
Effectively repeal the writ of Habeas Corpus.

It almost sounds comical, if it weren’t so serious. The danger to our civil liberties is real. Just as the RICO anti-racketeering law, established to fight organized crime, was interpreted to crack-down on other groups such as pro-life organizations, these laws, once on the books, would allow the government unchecked powers to remove political opposition. Imagine what would happen if, following a WTO protest, the government seized the property and deported even a hand-full of the protest leaders. What would this sort of power due to free speech in America?

What you can do:
Copy and distribute this fact sheet.
Get more information. Visit the sites below.
Write your representatives. Many of them don’t like these laws either, but are to intimidated to stand against things with such misnomers as “Patriot.”
Visit the ACLU website. In about 2 minutes you can send a fax to your representative telling them to vote NO to Patriot II and repeal Patriot I. It couldn’t be easier. Tell 10 of your friends to do it to!
Sign a petition demanding that libraries and other institutions say no to section 125 of the Patriot act. Librarians are staunch defenders of the first Amendment. Public libraries across the country, including Palo Alto, CA and Huntsville, AL have issued statements that they will not comply with this unconstitutional law.