CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY OBTAINS SECRET DRAFT OF PATRIOT ACT II
The nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity has obtained a draft of a secret document called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. This document is more commonly known as the Patriot Act II, and is designed to "give the government broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information." You can download the document here:
Find an excellent guide to the document by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee at
View a quick list of consequences to Patriot II here:
GRAVE CONCERN #1: SECRECY AND LIES
Patriot Act II reverses the fundamental principles of a liberal, democratic society: rather than citizens living private lives and our government being transparent, we are now to be transparent to government's impenetrable authority. Charles Lewis says, "democracy is supposed to be a contact sport, with many and diverse participants, and we quickly discovered that practically no one on Capitol Hill in either party or in the national news media had ever even heard of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003." So the first concern is, this document is very mature and was kept from nearly everyone on Capitol Hill -- never mind the general public.
When the story broke, Barbara Comstock, director of public affairs for the Justice Dept., said, "Department staff have not presented any final proposals to either the Attorney General or the White House. It would be premature to speculate on any future decisions, particularly ideas or proposals that are still being discussed at staff levels." In fact, the staff at NOW with Bill Moyers had obtained a control sheet that proved the document was delivered to VP Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on January 10. Caught red-handed in lies.
GRAVE CONCERN #2: DIMINISHED CIVIL RIGHTS
Whether you're a liberal, a libertarian, a conservative, an anarchist, all over free enterprise, an electric-triangle prodigy, or an amoeba painter, the Patriot Act II is not your friend! The only group that would be served by this act is one who believes that s/he is best served by a government that operates behind a thick veil, whose authority is beyond reproach and not subject to accountability.
The ACLU has posted an outstanding, detailed analysis of the Patriot II. Here are the basic offenses:
-- diminishes personal privacy by removing checks on government power
-- diminishes public accountability by increasing government secrecy
-- diminishes corporate accountability under the pretext of fighting terrorism
-- undermines fundamental constitutional rights of Americans under overbroad definitions of "terrorism" and "terrorist organization" or under a terrorism pretext; [nb: this topic will be the focus of relay #3 -- carol]
-- unfairly targets immigrants under the pretext of fighting terrorism
GRAVE CONCERN #3: NO CHECKS NO BALANCE
"Another section would nullify existing consent decrees against state law enforcement agencies that prevent the agencies from spying on individuals and organizations. These consent decrees were crafted because state and local governments illegally invaded the privacy of American citizens and repeatedly violated their civil rights. To make matters worse, the proposed bill prevents courts from issuing injunctions to block future abuses."
GRAVE CONCERN #4: CITIZEN ENDGAME
"Perhaps the most troubling section would strip U.S. citizenship from anyone who gives "material support" to any group that the attorney general designates as a terrorist organization. Citizenship is the most basic right for all Americans, one from which other rights -- such as the right to vote, to participate in politics and even to live in this country -- all flow. Under our Constitution, Americans can't be deprived of their citizenship, and the rights that go with it, unless they voluntarily give it up."
If you want to know the future under these new laws, check out the past. Remember COINTELPRO, the FBI counterintelligence program from 1956-1971? Like the Patriot Act, it claimed to be protecting us from evil terrorists and agents of foreign powers. In practice, it was a plan to discredit and neutralize political dissidents at home -- dangerous terrorists like Martin Luther King, the NAACP, and the National Lawyers Guild. Congress and the courts shut COINTELPRO down because it was unconstitutional. Bush, Ashcroft & Co are bringing it back.. on steroids. The report of the Congressional committee that investigated COINTELPRO is surprisingly readable; see www.icdc.com/~paulwolf/cointelpro/cointel.htm. It's an eye-opener.. and it could have been written last week.
THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE "DICTATOR"
John Ashcroft's TIPS program in the original Patriot Act looks an awful lot like Fidel Castro's Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), which the U.S. forcefully condemned. The CDR consists of neighborhood watch groups, which monitor and patrol blocks and barrios in order to enforce sedition acts. Many arrests have been made under their advisement. Behold, The U.S. Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996: SEC. 205. REQUIREMENTS AND FACTORS FOR DETERMINING A TRANSITION GOVERNMENT.
(a) Requirements.--For the purposes of this Act, a transition government in Cuba is a government that--
(1) has legalized all political activity;
(2) has released all political prisoners and allowed for investigations of Cuban prisons by appropriate international human rights organizations;
(3) has dissolved the present Department of State Security in the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, including the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and the Rapid Response Brigades; and
(4) has made public commitments to organizing free and fair elections for a new government--
Read what the ACLU has to say about the TIPS program:
OUR FREEDOM, OUR RESPONSIBILITY
Heriberto Yepez, a writer, translator, and teacher in Tijuana, reports that U.S. flag burning has become common in Mexico. thetijuanabibleofpoetics.blogspot.com/ (see entry 15.2.03) Freedom is a responsibility. We really must reclaim ours. As international citizens, we have a responsibility to stop the violations the U.S. is guilty of, to get out of this isolation that the current administration have thrust us into, and to reinscribe the USAmerican flag with values that Mexico will embrace, not burn.
WHO WHAT & HOW 2 RELAY
Many thanks to contributors Eric Keenaghan and Charles Weigl.
Thanks to everyone for your great response to issue 1! It's excellent that so many of you have expressed offers to submit raw materials for Relay. Unfortunately, I'm too unorganized to manage unsolicited content right now; if you find something worth circulating, why not relay it directly to your own address book? As those tireless cats at Clamor Magazine say, Become the Media! Subscription requests go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get The First Vienna Vegetable Orchestra into heavy rotation:
www.gemueseorchester.org/anfang_e.htm If they fail to make you giggle with glee, check yr pulse.