A milestone passed by most of us this past week. It seems that the Patriot Act birthday cake added a 10th candle this week and there was no party! The infamous Patriot Act turned 10 this week and a decade of attacks on our personal liberties went unnoticed by our Main Stream media. You can probably remember that the act passed with little opposition in the House and with only 1 member of the Senate in opposition.
“This sweeping legislation generally beefed up federal “anti-terrorist” police powers; dramatically skewed surveillance procedures in the direction of executive prerogative; weakened the already paper-thin protections against warrantless wiretapping erected under the 1978 FISA statute; and redefined financial institutions and the role government had in spying on their records. It also nationalized library records; created severe federal penalties for non-violent, white-collar crimes of insufficient disclosure concerning money transfers; vastly pumped up border security; increased the jurisdiction of the Selective Service; and empowered the FBI and other federal officials to use “national security letters” to subpoena information from private actors without anything approaching probable cause and in conjunction with gag orders that prevent the recipients of such letters to tell their attorneys, families, or anyone else that they received them. Further, it redefined “terrorism” to include crimes that previously were never considered to be terrorism; significantly eroded the Fourth Amendment; and did a number of other things to accelerate the central state’s powers and police activities in the name of fighting terrorism.” Truthout
I am amazed that this sophisticated attack on our Constitutional protections has not only lasted Ten years without being overturned, but it has actually become second nature to many of us. I can remember the claims that there was a terrorist behind every library bookshelf and under every rock that could only be stopped or prevented by this unprecedented erosion of our privacy protections. Can anyone else remember that if you complained about the warrantless wiretapping scandal that you were told that if you are not doing anything illegal, you don’t have anything to worry about? Just what kind of threats has this legislation prevented or stopped?
“Tamera Jo Freeman was on a Frontier Airlines flight to Denver in 2007 when her two children began to quarrel over the window shade and then spilled a Bloody Mary into her lap. She spanked each of them on the thigh with three swats. It was a small incident, but one that in the heightened anxiety after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would eventually have enormous ramifications for Freeman and her children. A flight attendant confronted Freeman, who responded by hurling a few profanities and throwing what remained of a can of tomato juice on the floor. The incident aboard the Frontier flight ultimately led to Freeman’s arrest and conviction for a federal felony defined as an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act, the controversial federal law enacted after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. “I had no idea I was breaking the law,” said Freeman, 40, who spent three months in jail before pleading guilty. Freeman is one of at least 200 people on flights who have been convicted under the amended law. In most of the cases, there was no evidence that the passengers had attempted to hijack the airplane or physically attack any of the flight crew. Many have simply involved raised voices, foul language and drunken behavior.” LA Times
I realize that Ms. Freeman might have been drunk, and might have been a poor Mother, but did any politician who voted for the Patriot Act and its progeny ever imagine that this is how it would be used? Just how did charging a drunk or a loud mouth passenger protect our National Security? I wonder why this story did not make national headlines and cause the well meaning legislators to change their minds about the need for a sweeping turn over of our rights? We have heard about the No Fly List abuses that prevented Senators and Congressmen from flying, but why hasn’t that list been abolished or at least amended to allow good faith passengers the ability to correct the list and remove their names from a list of possible terrorists? Could it be that certain politicians like the control it gives them over political adversaries and common citizens? The list of abuses allowed by the Act is too long to go into in its entirety, but the above examples are instructive as to the depth of the intrusions that are allowed by this “evil” act.
This Patriot Act abuse is not a partisan issue. While there are more Democrats than Republicans who have voted against the original and updated versions of the Act, there is plenty of blame to go around. Even a so-called Democratic President Obama signed the renewal of the Act. What will it take to rescind the Act or to remove its most heinous sections? I sense that this misnamed Patriot Act will not be corrected or removed until the American electorate actually sees through the fear mongering and lies and actually realizes that we have been duped for over a Decade.
Of course, the Main Stream Media has been a willing participant in spreading the lies and the fear so it may take a new Media to correct or oppose the corporate sponsored garbage that we have been subjected to. Maybe the Peoples Microphone is an example of that kind of new Media that may allow us to gain control over the government and the information from that government. Our only hope in keeping our freedoms secure is to let Congress and the White House know that the American public will no longer sit idly by while they turn us into a police state. The people have already started fighting back over the economic disenfranchisement. Now it is time to repair the damage done to the Constitution by the Patriot Act. Maybe it is time for us all to get fitted for Guy Fawkes masks!