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by Jim Marrs
Saturday, May. 24, 2003 at 8:00 PM
"...reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over surveillance, authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database based on unchecked executive `suspicion,' create new death penalties, and even seek to take American citizenship away from persons who belong to or support disfavored political groups."
Son Of Patriot Act Goes From Bad To Worse
By Jim Marrs
The following article is one section from Jim Marrs' new book The War on Freedom. Originally scheduled for publication from a major New York publishing house, this book was suddenly canceled by a corporate officer who never read it and despite the fact that it had passed legal review. To see what certain people do not want you to read, order a copy of The War on Freedom by visiting JimMarrs.com or calling 940-433-8094.
In early 2003 there was an effort underway within the Justice Department to further expand the provisions and powers of the PATRIOT Act. And it was all done in such secrecy that even ranking members of congress did not know this act was in preparation.
Even Mark Corallo, deputy director of the Justice Department's Office of Public Affairs appeared unaware of the draft legislation. "This is all news to me. I have never heard of this," he told members of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based group dedicated to "public service journalism." This center obtained a copy of the document and made it public in early 2003.
A spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee, Jeff Lungren, said, "We haven't heard anything from the Justice Department on updating the PATRIOT Act. They haven't shared their thoughts on that. Obviously, we'd be interested, but we haven't heard anything at this point."
After reviewing the draft legislation, Dr. David Cole of the Georgetown University Law School said raises a "lot of serious concerns." "It's troubling that they have gotten this far along and they've been telling people there is nothing in the works." He added the proposed changes "would radically expand law enforcement and intelligence gathering authorities, reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over surveillance, authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database based on unchecked executive `suspicion,' create new death penalties, and even seek to take American citizenship away from persons who belong to or support disfavored political groups."
Innocently entitled the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003," this expansion of both police and government powers was kept deep within the confines of the Justice Department until leaked to the public. As usual, the corporate controlled mass media made little of the story but it sparked outrage on the Internet and from some columnists.
Editorial page writer Errol Louis of the New York Sun wrote, "[This] document is a catalog of authoritarianism that runs counter to the basic tenets of modern democracy." Columnist Jim Hightower termed it "Ashcroft's Latest Assault on Liberty."
A dissection of the PATRIOT Act expansion by Timothy H. Edgar, Legislative Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, revealed the legislation would diminish personal privacy by removing checks on government power by:
- Making it easier to initiate surveillance and wiretapping of U. S. Citizens under the authority of the little-known Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). (Sections 101, 102 and 107)
- Permitting the government, under certain circumstances, to bypass the FISC altogether and conduct warrantless wiretaps and searches. (Sections 103 and 104)
- Sheltering federal agents engaged in illegal surveillance without a court order from criminal prosecution if they are following the orders of Executive Branch officials. (Section 106)
- Creating a new category of "domestic security surveillance" that permits electronic eavesdropping of entirely domestic activity under looser standards than provided for ordinary criminal surveillance. (Section 122)
- Using an overly broad definition of terrorism that could cover some protest tactics such as those used by Operation Rescue or the protesters at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, as a new predicate for criminal wiretapping and other electronic surveillance (Sections 120 and 121)
- Providing for general surveillance orders covering multiple functions for high-tech devices and by further expanding pen register and trap and trace authority for intelligence surveillance of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent foreign residents. (Sections 107-124)
- Creating a new and separate crime of using encryption technology that could add five years to any jail sentence for crimes committed with a computer. ((Section 144)
- Expanding the PATRIOT Act's definition of nationwide search warrants and giving the government secret access to credit reports with consent or judicial process (Sections 125 and 126)
- Enhancing the government's ability to obtain sensitive personal information without prior judicial approval and providing new penalties for failure to comply with written demands for such records. (Sections 128 and 129)
- Allowing for the sampling and cataloging of innocent Americans ' genetic [DNA} information without a court order or the individual's consent. (Sections 301-306)
- Permitting sensitive personal information to be shared with state and local law enforcement agencies despite any connection to anti-terrorism measures, (Section 311)
- Terminating court-approved limits on police spying, put in place to prevent Mc-Carthy-era style police persecution based on political or religious affiliation. (Section 312)
- Permitting searches, wiretaps and surveillance of U.S. citizens on behalf of foreign governments - to include dictators and human rights abusers' - in the absence of Senate-approved treaties. (Sections 321-322)
- Authorizing secret arrests in immigration, material witness and other cases where the detained person is not criminally charged. (Section 201)
- Threatening public health by severely restricting access to crucial information concerning health risks by facilities that use dangerous chemicals. (Section 202)
- Diminishing corporate responsibility by grant immunity to businesses that provide information to government terrorism investigations even if such actions are taken with disregard for the customer's privacy and show reckless disregard for the truth. (Section 313)
- Undermines basic constitutional rights by overly broad definitions of "terrorism" and "terrorist organization" which could result in stripping a native-born American of citizenship if they wittingly or unwittingly support any organization deemed terrorist by government officials. (Section 501)
- Creating 15 new categories of the death penalty, including one should a death result from otherwise peaceful protests such as Operation Rescue. (Section 411)
- Permitting arrests and extradition of American citizens to any foreign country including ones with bad human rights records, in the absence of a Senate-approved treaty and unfairly targeting immigrants by opening sensitive personal visa files to local law enforcement agencies and extended jail terms for common immigration offenses. (Sections 322, 311 and 502)
- Permitting summary deportations of American citizens deemed a threat to national security by Attorney General Ashcroft, even with no evidence of criminal activity, intent or terrorism. (Section 503)
-Completely abolishing fair hearings for American citizens convicted of minor criminal offenses through a retroactive "expedited removal" procedure and preventing any court from questioning the government' s unlawful actions by explicitly exempting these cases from habeas corpus review. (Section 504)
ACLU counsel Edgar noted that the constitutional protection of habeas corpus (the right to a hearing to determine if any criminal offense has been committed) has not been exempted since the War Between the States.
Edgar added that despite the Justice Department's efforts to characterize both the PATRIOT Act and its proposed expansion as minor tinkering with statutory language, "the DOJ's modest descriptions of the powers it is seeking, and the actual scope of the authorities it seeks, are miles apart." "The USA PATRIOT Act undercut many of the traditional checks and balances on government power, " he explained. "The new draft legislation threatens to fundamentally alter the constitutional protections that allow us as Americans to be both safe and free. If adopted, the bill would diminish personal privacy by removing important checks on government surveillance authority, reduce the accountability of government to be public by increasing government secrecy, further undermine fundamental constitutional rights of Americans under an already over broad definition of `terrorism,' and seriously erode the right of all persons to due process of law."
Many of the provision of the expansion of the PATRIOT Act seem to be so draconian and reprehensible that many people felt it could never be passed in the light of day. But, as noted by Professor Cole, author of Terrorism and the Constitution, this legislation may lay awaiting yet another pretext to make it law.
He said PATRIOT Act II "is troubling as a generic matter that they have gotten this far along and tell people that there is nothing in the works. What that suggests is that they're waiting for a propitious time to introduce it, which might well be when a war is begun. At that time there would be less opportunity for discussion and they'll have a much stronger hand in saying that they need these things right away."
Author and Internet commentator Whitley Strieber expressed similar sentiments by writing, "If there is a horrendous terrorist attack on our country in the next few weeks or months, and there emerges a similar lack of official will to prevent it, and then the Domestic Security Enhancement Act is placed before a terrified and compliant congress, then, in my opinion, the conclusion will be inescapable: the United States of America will have ceased to be a free nation and the first American dictatorship will be under way."
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