|U.S. Patriot Act Summary of fascist parts
The following is a speech addressing the constitutional implications
of the USA PATRIOT Act, given on June 10, 2002 by writer Jennifer Van Bergen
via telephone-conference at the "9/11 and Public Safety Conference Seeking
Answers and Accountability" in Washington, D.C. at the National Press Club.
The PATRIOT Act largely builds on and expands existing laws, giving
federal law enforcement agencies greater intelligence gathering powers.
However, it is important to note that there was never any showing by the Department of Justice, by the Administration, or by intelligence agencies, that the previous laws were in any way inadequate.
In fact, it now appears that 9/11 was not prevented not because of inadequate antiterrorism laws, but because of intelligence agencies' own internal procedural failures.
In terms of legal procedure, basic criminal procedure laws have been shown to work quite well in terrorism cases.
The PATRIOT Act does not, therefore, help us to fight terrorism better.
Intrudes upon many of our hard-won civil liberties - liberties which many of our ancestors fought and died for.
It also upsets the balance of powers in our government, putting unnecessarily greater power in the hands of the Executive, and brings us one step closer to what a colleague of mine calls "the National Security States of America."
The Patriot Act is a complicated law. Let me set forth the most worrisome provisions in it.
Specifically, the Patriot Act
Section 216 of the PATRIOT ACT allows the government to tap your phone
and computer without probable cause. Under this section, a judge MUST rubber
stamp a warrant as long as law enforcement certifies that the surveillance
is "relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation." No probable cause of
Further, Section 218 allows the government to carry out secret searches and wiretaps without showing probable cause merely by certifying that there is a "significant" foreign intelligence purpose. This also evades the 4th Amendment.
Section 802 creates the crime of "domestic terrorism." This criminalizes acts that "appear to be intended" to "influence the policy of the government by intimidation or coercion" or to "intimidate or coerce a civilian population."
This section would make just about any act of civil disobedience in protest against government policies into an act of domestic terrorism.
Section 411 in tandem with section 802, expands the power of government to designate a group a "foreign terrorist organization." Any group which endorses so-called "terrorist activity," which under 802 may be otherwise lawful protest activity, can be designated a terrorist organization. This would enable government to designate such groups as the protestors at Vieques, Puerto Rico, or those against the World Trade Organization.
Section 411 also allows the government to indict anyone who provides material support or assistance to a terrorist organization. If you provided humanitarian or medical assistance to the Northern Alliance - foes of bin Laden - you could be arrested for supporting terrorism.
Finally, Section 412 of the PATRIOT Act permits the government to arrest and detain immigrants indefinitely for nothing more than a visa violation. In fact, of the 1200 known immigrant detentions since 9/11, the ACLU determined that only about five were detained on terrorism-related charges. Because the Department of Justice refused to release any information, the ACLU obtained this information from foreign embassies to whom the DOJ had courteously supplied the information where it affected one of their citizens.
Thus, what is too sensitive to show to Americans, the Department of Justice has no problem revealing to Islamic nations.
James Madison wrote in 1822, that "a popular government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
Our government has enacted bad legislation. Let's make sure this legislation
doesn't lead to another tragedy."
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