into law in October of 2001, was passed by congress with such speed
(urged on by Attorney General John Ashcroft) that some members did not
even have a chance to read the 342 page bill. Some later said that parts
of it might be unconstitutional, but with up-coming elections, no one
wanted to appear unpatriotic. The few changes that addressed civil
liberty issues were taken out
the vote. This Act radically threatens the civil liberties we all have
come to take for granted under the Bill of Rights - these are the very
freedoms we have been told inspire such violent jealousy in terrorists.
Among other things, this law:
Extends the power of the government to conduct surveillance of U.S.
citizens & reduces judicial review of such surveillance
Permits non-citizens to be jailed indefinitely and with little judicial
review, based on mere suspicion
Allows the FBI to require libraries and bookstores to hand over lists of
books borrowed or bought by a person included in a terrorist
investigation (The warrant, issued by the secret Foreign Surveillance
Court requires a lower standard than the 4th Amendments "probable
Imposes a gag rule that prohibits a librarian or bookseller from
informing anyone that the search has taken place.
Allows government agents to listen in on lawyer-client conversations in
Extends the scope of wiretaps on phones & computers.
Permits government agents to search a suspects home without notifying
them of the search (This is not limited to terrorism, but all criminal
PATRIOT Act can apply to U.S. citizens, as well as non-citizens.
was promoted as a tool to fight foreign terrorists, but many of its
provisions are not limited to the crime of terrorism, but apply to all
criminal cases. Terrorism as it is defined in the act could be
interpreted to encompass more than you might think.
"commits the crime of domestic terrorism if within the U.S. activity is
engaged in that involves acts dangerous to human life that violate the
laws of the United States or any state and appear to be intended to:
1.) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; 2.) influence the policy
of government by intimidation or coercion; or 3.) affect the conduct of
government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping"
of the words, "appear to" make this alarmingly subjective, and the first
two provisions are so loosely worded that some people engaged in
political protest could be swept into the definition.
Attacks on Liberty
the USAPatriot act is the best known of the laws passed in the wake of
the 2001 terrorist attacks, there are other new laws and executive
orders dealing with air travel, immigration, police practices and
emergency powers. These allow innocent people to be denied services,
deported and detained in secret. Those who are arrested or singled out
by mistake under these policies have little opportunity to correct the
error, and the government can prevent them from traveling and hold them
incommunicado for interrogation. People have been treated like
terrorists simply for supporting causes that are unpopular with people
for USA PATRIOT II!
86 page draft of "The Domestic Security Enhancement act" would, among
other provisions, restrict public access to information about
environmental and heath risks, allow secret arrests, and shelter federal
agents engaged in illegal surveillance. It even
allows the government to strip US citizens of their citizenship.
act is not law, yet, but considering the speed with which PATRIOT I was
launched, it bears watching.
Download of the full flyer with graphics
as a pdf.