Bush's USA-PATRIOT Bandwagon Richard Forno www.infowarrior.org 7 February 2004 Copyright (c) 2004 by Author. Permission granted to reproduce with credit.
Original Source: http://www.infowarrior.org/articles/2004-04.html In a disturbing policy priority, the first thing President Bush asked for during his 2004 State of the Union speech was for Congress to make the controversial yet reassuringly-named "Uniting & Strengthening of American by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" (USA PATRIOT) Act permanent by removing its sunset provisions. Clearly, during this election (or "re-election" if you prefer to perpetuate that myth) year for Mr. Bush, he's making the War on Terror his major talking point, and for good reason: he's got nothing else positive to show for his Administration thus far except a poor economy, thousands of American jobs moving overseas, a poisoned Medicare overhaul, a half-trillion dollar deficit, international scorn for controversial foreign policy actions (including the policy of pre-emption), and the greatest number of unemployed Americans since Herbert Hoover. The only thing he and Karl Rove can do is use the lingering memory of September 11 at home with handpicked audiences to try and generate emotional public support for his self-proclaimed "strong leadership" in the War on Terror. And even that's becoming a burgeoning albatross given the fruitless search for the prohibited weapons he and everyone else in his Administration were so confident were in Iraq and a hair's breath away from being given to religious terrorists. (Interestingly, everyone is looking at the CIA to blame for faulty intelligence, yet nobody's examining the neo-con staffed Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon that provided the customized "intelligence" that "convinced" the White House that Iraq was an imminent danger to the United States.) But back to the USA PATRIOT Act. In the two weeks since Bush's lukewarm State of the Union, he's made repeated calls to make the law permanent. This is a direct affront to the desires of many states, cities, and counties that have passed laws, resolutions, and directives prohibiting public employees in such jurisdictions from supporting federal investigations under the Act while reaffirming the Constitutional rights of its citizens. Given these increasing grassroots challenges to this law from all corners of the country and American society, one would think the Administration might take the hint that Americans do not feel comfortable living in the land of the sneak-and-peek surveillance, no-notice search warrants, prolonged (and circumstantial) detentions, and law enforcement monitoring what Americans buy and read, among the Act's other disturbing provisions sold to the public as necessary to fight the "war on terror" and "protect the homeland." Indeed, the Administration has used the memory (or mere mention) of September 11 to push through any number of questionable policies, with the feel-good titled USA PATRIOT Act being perhaps the most controversial and sinister of them here at home. That being said, the public also forgets that although USA PATRIOT is still heralded as a "tool" for law enforcement to fight terrorism, it was used (or abused) repeatedly for non-terror-related criminal investigations, according to a Department of Justice inspector general released last year. Therefore, as a patriotic American, it's my duty to alert my fellow concerned countrymen to this clear and present danger to American liberties that, as evidenced in the State of the Union, is a declared priority for the Bush Administration during 2004. Congress and the American people were fooled into supporting the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act back in 2001 -- and must not allow their emotions or ignorance to keep this controversial, anti-American law alive. Notwithstanding the above, the Administration is making a full-court press in support of the USA PATRIOT Act, as evidenced on the White House website: January 20 (State of the Union): "...Inside the United States, where the war began, we must continue to give our homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which allows federal law enforcement to better share information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells, and to seize their assets. For years, we have used similar provisions to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers. If these methods are good for hunting criminals, they are even more important for hunting terrorists. (Applause.) Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year. (Applause.) The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. (Applause.) Our law enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our citizens. You need to renew the Patriot Act. (Applause.) " January 21 (President Discusses Job Training and the Economy in Ohio): "...I see local officers here. It is very important that we provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to fight and win this war. I called for the renewal of the Patriot Act. I want to tell you why. It is important that we be able to share information at the federal level. It's important we have the authority to be able to seize assets. These tools in the Patriot Act, most of the tools we have been using for years against embezzlers or criminals. We're at war. It seems like to me it is logical that we apply tools that we've used to catch embezzlers to be able to catch terrorists. The Congress needs to renew the Patriot Act so we can win the war on terror and secure the homeland. (Applause.)" January 22 (Vice-President Discussing GOP Policy at the CPAC Annual Meeting in DC): "...Inside our country, where the war began, we must continue to give homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which authorizes federal law enforcement to share more intelligence information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells, and to seize their assets. We use these very same tools to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers and organized crime, and we need them to hunt terrorists, as well. As the President said the other night, parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year, but the terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. Our law enforcement needs the Patriot Act, and Congress needs to renew it. (Applause.)" January 22 (President Discusses America¹s Leadership in Global War on Terror in NM): "...I think it's very important for the country to understand the Patriot Act. See, that's an important part of fighting the war on terror. It's essential that the FBI and the CIA be able to share information if you want to whip the terrorists. See, it's a different kind of war. We're in a different era. We need to view law differently. We'll always protect our Constitution and safeguard individual rights, but our law enforcement, those who collect information and share information and expected to act on information, must be able to talk together...Many of the tools in the Patriot Act have been used by law enforcement to chase down embezzlers and criminals. It is essential that those same tools be used in fighting against terrorists. We're in a different era. The Patriot Act is going to expire. The Congress needs to renew it, for the sake of fighting the war on terror. (Applause.)" January 23 (President Speaks to US Conference of Mayors Meeting in DC): "... I know there's some talk in your communities about the Patriot Act. Let me tell you about the Patriot Act right quick. We're in a new war, a different kind of war. We need to be able to share information across jurisdictional boundaries at the federal level. Do you realize, prior to September the 11th, 2001, the CIA could not pass information to the FBI, or vice versa? By law, they were prohibited from sharing information. How can you fight a war against terrorists who hide in dark corners of the world and maybe slide into our country if you can't share information? We need the CIA and the FBI to be able to talk to each other. (Applause.)...As I said in the State of the Union, many of the provisions in the law have been used to catch embezzlers or criminals. We need to make sure those provisions stay in the law. We're at war. We're trying to hunt terrorists. It's a different kind of war....In the old days, you know, you could measure progress based upon tanks destroyed or airplanes brought down to earth, you know, by missiles or air-to-air combat. It's no longer the way it is in the 21st century. We're on an international manhunt. We have to find these people before they come and get us. And in order to do so, we need the best intelligence and the capacity to share that intelligence across jurisdictional boundaries. The Patriot Act is vital for our security, and Congress needs to renew it. (Applause.) " February 5 (President Speaks on Seaport and Cargo Security in SC): "... Another vital tool in the homeland security is for Congress to pass laws that enable us to do our job. I'm referring to the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act gives federal law enforcement the tools they need to seize terrorists' assets and disrupt their cells. (Applause.) It removes -- the Patriot Act removed legal barriers that prevented the FBI and the CIA from sharing information, information that is vitally needed to uncover terrorist plots before they are carried out in America. Imagine a system that would not allow people to collect information to share information. It makes it awfully hard to protect the homeland if the FBI and the CIA can't share data in order to protect us. The Patriot Act made that possible....The Patriot Act imposes tougher penalties on terrorists and their supporters. We want to send a clear message to people, that there will be a consequence. For years we've used similar provisions, provisions that are now in the act, to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers. What's in the Patriot Act today is nothing new; we've been using these provisions in the past. If the methods are good enough for hunting criminals, they're even more important for hunting terrorists. The Congress needs to extend the Patriot Act. (Applause.)" This is a summary of White House remarks on the Act since the January 20 State of the Union speech. Unfortunately, it's quite likely that we'll see many more such calls, requests, and pleas -- to sympathetic audiences, naturally -- from the Administration on this topic in the coming weeks and months. We must counter the patriotic rhetoric and spin of Administration flacks like Attorney General John Ashcroft who constantly claim that the Act is to "defend" patriotic American ideals like "freedom" and "liberty" against "the terrorists" -- they only serve to distract public attention from the Act's adverse impact on America's cherished civil liberties by fostering a continuing environment of fear that can be tapped into during speeches calling for the USA PATRIOT Act to be made permanent. This article is a call for action and a request for you good readers to get the word out in your communities about this rapidly approaching point of no return for American civil liberties. Work with the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other organizations to help educate fellow Americans about the dangers of making the USA PATRIOT Act permanent. Terrorism is indeed a danger to the world, but invoking the memory of September 11 (and wrapping it in an American flag) to achieve what is clearly a partisan political objective and an un-American (and easily-abused) national policy is unethical, unpatriotic, and dishonors the memory of those who perished that day. In other words, it's business as usual for the Bush Administration. # # # # # Richard Forno is a Washington, DC-based security consultant and author of "Weapons of Mass Delusion." His home in cyberspace is at http://www.infowarrior.org. -- You are a subscribed member of the infowarrior list. Visit www.infowarrior.org for list information or to unsubscribe. This message may be redistributed freely in its entirety. 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