A Decade of Misplaced Patriotism

Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

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!

Additional Sources:

wired.comUSA Patriot Act ; NPR


78 thoughts on “A Decade of Misplaced Patriotism”

  1. Russ Feingold, the lone Senate vote against the Patriot Act, was defeated in Wisconsin in 2010 because he was too liberal for Wisconsin. That tells me all I need to know about how the majority view the Patriot Act.

  2. A true Patriot Act:

    Huge Crowd Circles White House to Protest XL Pipeline
    By: Jon Walker Sunday November 6, 2011 2:19 pm

    Today I was down by the White House to witness the massive protest against the new Keystone XL pipeline that would bring tar sands oil from Canada down to American refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands showed up to cover the multiple city blocks it takes to fully circle the White House. The protesters all came out to send a single clear message to President Obama: use your power, do not approve the pipeline.

    It was one of the most impressive protests I’ve ever experienced personally. The event was well run, had a massive turnout and was full of great energy.

    Below are some pictures from the event:


  3. shano, welcome aboard the Turley blawg. You are another voice of sanity in an insane world.

  4. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/03/occupy-militarisation-policing-protest :

    Occupy protesters should make themselves familiar with the USA Patriot Act. Section 802 expanded the definition of domestic terrorism to include persons who engage in acts of civil disobedience to coerce or affect the conduct of government by intimidation of the civilian population. Furthermore, the US Department of Defence training manuals, until an amendment in 2009, equated protest with “low-level terrorism”. Although the DoD changed the wording two years ago, human rights lawyers and activists have lingering concerns about whether the sentiment and intent has caught up with the change.

    Finally, there is the disquieting issue of excessive force at Occupy. In the autumn of 2008, the Army Times reported that for the first time, the US Army planned to station an active unit under the control of Northern Command serving as an on-call federal response in times of both natural and man-made emergencies, including terrorist attacks. Training included a non-lethal package, elements of which the US Army has been using in Iraq, designed to subdue unruly individuals. “The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.”

    Despite the existence of the National Guard, whose raison d’etre is to augment civilian law enforcement when its capabilities are exceeded, this additional unit, according to the Army Times, may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The excessive force exhibited at some Occupy locations – the use of tear gas; alleged use of rubber bullets and reported presence of sonic weapons – is becoming a pattern. A protester in California, who wished to remain anonymous, recalls experience of a long range acoustic device (LRAD) in Oakland last week:

    “I had been tear gassed three times, so when I first saw the sound cannon, I panicked. When the cannon went off, I felt it pulse through me and I instantly felt dizzy and nauseated. At one point, I fell over. I noticed others around me had fallen over as well and some vomited.”

    Such anti-riot technologies were characterised as inhumane by human rights observers when they were used to subdue unarmed, peaceful protesters during civil unrest in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2007. They have no place in a democratic country. They may be characterised by authorities as “non-lethal”, but they can all too easily become lethal if misused by reckless law enforcement agents. The Occupy movement is explicitly a nonviolent exercise of first amendment rights, yet its policing bears all the hallmarks of a chilling militarisation of law enforcement in the United States.

  5. shano,

    I do hope you decide to stick around. You’ve been making some great posts with quality information.

  6. Rafflaw: It really seems that the police these days mistake bad manners to be violations of the law. Maybe they need Ms. Manners to show them the difference.

  7. What if we want to eat fresh strawberries in our ice cream and drink “raw” milk? Why the hell is it the business of government to tell me I cannot drink raw milk if I want to and I am willing to take the risk?

    Well, since Big Ag makes us sick so Big Pharma can sell us drugs, it is simply another form of protectionism for giant corporations.


  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=204ItdAbyRc

    It is gotten to the point where there is no justice unless the police are willing to investigate. Why is this policeman refusing to take the victims statement and the statements of eye witnesses? Until, that is, a television camera shows up.

    Rafflaw, if they get too nasty, I just tell them I wish the TSA would stop stealing things out of my checked bag. makes them focus every time.

  9. this TSA crap would end if everyone just said we arent going to fly until it does end.

    Occupy the airports.

  10. “Sometimes these regulations come about because officials have too much power and time on their hands. And all-too-often these laws are put in place for one reason: to protect a politically powerful group from honest competition.

    That happened this year in El Paso, when the city turned itself into a No Vending Zone, telling all food vendors they couldn’t operate within 1,000 feet of any restaurant, convenience store or grocer. And they couldn’t even park outside the zone; they had to drive around and wait to be flagged down. Vendors caught violating the laws were threatened with thousands of dollars in fines.

    Why did these ridiculous laws pop up? The restaurants didn’t like the competition and so they got their buddies in government to hamstring the vendors. They even admitted it on camera: “We wanted this ordinance in place to help established restaurants keep their businesses.”

    Even the city’s health inspector admitted that the law was purely protectionist and had nothing to do with health or safety.”

    Most regulations are aimed at protecting someones turf or to ostensibly “protect” the public health and safety. But what if the public doesnt want to be protected? What if we want to eat fresh strawberries in our ice cream and drink “raw” milk? Why the hell is it the business of government to tell me I cannot drink raw milk if I want to and I am willing to take the risk?

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