Patriot Act Assaults Civil Liberties
by John D. Brulé
The Patriot Act, delivered to Congress within five days of 9/11 and passed 40 days later, was one of the Bush Administrations first steps to make the US into an Orwellian state. This assault on the Bill of Rights was launched with essentially no debate by Congress. With Republicans and Democrats alike caving in to administration pressure and wanting to react to the disaster of 9/11, they followed Mr. Bush in striking a blow to the Bill of Rights.
The Patriot Act permits the Federal government to snoop into our
reading habits and gather data about us through secret search orders and sneak
and peek warrants, which we are not able to challenge or even know about.
This type of warrant marks a serious change in the way search warrants are executed.
The Patriot Act expanded the activities of a secret spy court
into the lives of a wide range of everyday US Americans. The bill defines domestic
terrorism so that certain kinds of demonstrations (like marching in the
street without a permit) could result in a terrorism investigation. Activists
throughout the country now have to wonder whether creative demonstrations will
spark FBI surveillance.
Last year, Syracuses Common Council voted 7-1 to pass a
resolution urging Congress to repeal certain sections of the Patriot Act. The
resolution instructs the Common Council President to ask federal authorities
annually for information to help assess the effect of federal anti-terrorism
efforts on Syracusans. US Attorney Glenn Suddabys response to this years
request was to neither confirm nor deny that an investigation or matter
is even pending in our Office.
Conservatives in Congress want to extend the Patriot Act, while
others want to revise it. Strong efforts are being made to eliminate the Acts
sunset provisions, which if successful, would retain some of the
Acts most troubling surveillance provisions (instead of their automatically
expiring in 2005). There are other bills to revise some of the Acts worst
provisions. Demand that our Congressmembers support these two bills the
Civil Liberties Restoration Act (CLRA) and a Safety and Freedom Ensured Act
For more information on these Acts, other post 9/11 threats to
our civil liberties and how to fight them, contact the Bill of Rights Defense
Campaign at 471-2821 or visit www.bordc.org