What was previously known as the Patriot Act 2, is now being passed stealthily under the guise of implmenting the 9/11 Ommission's findings.
Civil Liberties in Grave Danger; Friends Committee for National Legislation in DC
Scenario: A lengthy, complex, and confusing bill is introduced in response to public pressure for improved national security. Congressional leaders warn that the legislation is the only way to protect against terrorism and that it must be passed within days. The measure does include some provisions addressing national security, but it is loaded with, or amended by, sections that severely reduce precious constitutional protections. Changes to the legislation occur rapidly behind closed doors without public knowledge, discussion, or input. Both houses of Congress are under intense leadership and political pressure for quick and decisive passage of the bill. Sound familiar? Sound like the USA PATRIOT Act, passed in the fall of 2001? Yes, it does. But this terrible scenario is being repeated this week in Washington, D.C. ...
Some of the legislative
measures and amendments, particularly S. 2845, a measure introduced in the Senate
by Sen. Collins (ME) and Sen. Lieberman (CT), have been bi-partisan efforts,
carefully drafted to respond to the commission's recommendations. Others, most
dramatically HR 10, introduced by Speaker Hastert (IL) in the House, and amendments
to S. 2845 introduced by Sen. Kyl (AZ) in the Senate, do not follow the 9/11
Commission's recommendations about security and are freighted with provisions
that diminish civil liberties protections. Taken together, these provisions
include (but are not limited to):
establishment of a national ID card, disguised as national standardization of drivers licensing;
establishment of a national electronic database for birth and death certificates, with permanent identifying information assigned to each individual, such as a national ID number;
biometric identifiers - including fingerprints, face recognition software photos, iris or retinal scans, and other private physical identification - for travel documents which would be used for security in domestic air travel as well as overseas travel;
expanded secret eavesdropping and search powers to be used against individuals suspected of terrorist activity, whether or not the individual is associated with a foreign power;
further weakening of individual privacy rights in library, medical, and other personal records, removing all federal court oversight;
enhanced "material support" provisions, allowing guilt by association with a group targeted by the administration; removal of habeas corpus relief for those detained under repressive immigration measures;
approval of automatic detention without bail in immigration matters at the government's request;
increased secrecy in immigration court matters;
approval of the use of secret evidence in immigration courts - secret even to the immigrant being examined;
deportation of immigrants before final appeal;
allowing the death penalty in terrorism cases (with "terrorism" as defined in the USA PATRIOT Act);
explicit approval of transfer of prisoners suspected of terrorism to nations known to practice torture; and
failure to provide for a cross-agency civil liberties board for oversight and investigation of civil liberties practices and procedures in the executive branch of the federal government.
The message to Congress should be straightforward: Legislation responding to The 9/11 Commission Report must be limited to the core recommendations of the report. All extraneous law enforcement and immigration provisions must be stripped from any such legislation prior to final passage by the House and the Senate.
The Patriot Act trashes precious constitutional protections but the follow-up laws being drafted goes even further. These are comments on what was previously known as the Patriot Act 2, but are now being passed stealthily under the guise of implmenting the 9/11 Omission's findings.
Justice Dept. Drafts Sweeping Expansion of Anti-Terrorism Act Center for Public Integrity Report - Feb. 7, 2003.
The Bush Administration is preparing a bold, comprehensive sequel to the USA Patriot Act that will give the government broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information. The Center for Public Integrity has obtained a draft, dated January 9, 2003, of this previously undisclosed legislation and is making it available in full text. The bill, drafted by the staff of Attorney General John Ashcroft and entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, has not been officially released by the Department of Justice, although rumors of its development have circulated around the Capitol.
Dr. David Cole, Georgetown University Law professor and author of Terrorism and the Constitution, reviewed the draft legislation at the request of the Center, and said that the legislation "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." This proposed law, he added, "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."
Patriot Act II Versus United States Constitution by James P. Tucker Jr.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, with the blessings of President Bush, is drafting a follow-up to the Patriot Act that would do even more violence to the Constitution.
The 80-page Justice Department draft of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 is labeled "confidential" but a copy was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity,
The Justice Department went to extreme lengths to hide its work, although the draft legislation is not classified information.
Viet Dinh, deputy attorney general for legal policies and principle author of the Patriot Act, said there is "an ongoing process to continue evaluating and re-evaluating authorities we have with respect to counter-terrorism."
While the draft is dated Jan. 9, the House and Senate Judiciary committees were falsely told nearly a month later that no such legislation was being planned. When the center acquired and shared a copy of the draft, Barbara Comstock of the Justice Department explained lamely that they had "not presented any final proposal."
Under Section 201, a federal court decision requiring the government to reveal the identities of people it has detained since the 9-11 terrorist attacks can be overturned. The draft reads:
"The government need not disclose information about individuals detained in investigations of terrorism until . . . the initiation of criminal charges"--no matter how long it takes.
If passed by Congress, it would be the first time in history that secret arrests are specifically permitted under American law.
Under Section 501, an American citizen who provides "material support" to a group the government has designated a "terrorist organization" can be stripped of his citizenship. Now, an American can lose his citizenship only by declaring a clear intent to abandon his country.
The proposed bill says an "intent to relinquish nationality need not be manifested in words, but can be inferred from conduct." It is unclear which bureaucrats would do the "inferring."
"This section of the bill means that if you were to send a check for the legal activities of an organization and, unbeknownst to you, it has been labeled as a terrorist group, then you could be deported," wrote syndicated columnist Nat Hentoff.
"Deportations of American citizens are not `phantoms of lost liberty,' " Hentoff wrote, referring to an Ashcroft comment that his critics are scaring "peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty."
Under existing law, the FBI can collect DNA identification records of persons convicted of various crimes. But under Section 302 of the draft proposal, the attorney general or secretary of defense would be empowered to collect, analyze and maintain DNA samples of "suspected" terrorists.
All Americans would be in jeopardy as faceless bureaucrats label groups "terrorists" and grab citizens who may have the slightest association with a labeled group, according to Dr. David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington.
The proposed law "would radically expand law enforcement and intelligence-gathering authorities, reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over surveillance, authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database 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," Cole said.
Many rational observers
predict that President Bush's planned attack on Iraq will result in a dramatic
increase in terrorist crimes in America. This, in turn, will provide Congress
with a plausible excuse for additional legislation to "combat terrorism."