The Ice Blog

by Ice

The USA Patriot Act and the Bill of Rights

The Act

The “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001” (USA PATRIOT Act, or USAPA) introduced a plethora of legislative changes which significantly increased the surveillance and investigative powers of law enforcement agencies in the United States. The Act did not, however, provide for the system of checks and balances that traditionally safeguards civil liberties in the face of such legislation.

Legislative proposals in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were introduced less than a week after the attacks. Though the Act made significant amendments to over 15 important statutes, it was introduced with great haste and passed with little debate, and without a House, Senate, or conference report. As a result, it lacks background legislative history that often retrospectively provides necessary statutory interpretation.

The USA Patriot Act was signed into law on Oct. 26, 2001.  This Act was overwhelmingly passed with 357 votes in the House and 98 votes in the Senate.  The Patriot Act decimates the Bill of Rights.  And there was hardly a peep from the “We the People.”

The original Patriot Act was drafted by both, Republicans and Democrats, the House and the Senate. But at the very last minute the original was switched with a version authored by Viet Dinh[1]. Under cover of darkness the President had the substitute bill printed at 3:45 a.m., only hours before the House vote scheduled for that same morning. Out of 435 Representatives, NOT ONE would read the substituted Act before voting on the bill.

It is not proper constitutional procedure for a bill that has been hammered out by both parties and both houses to be switched in the early morning hours with a bill prepared by lawyers from the executive branch.

Let us take a closer look at the USA Patriot Act and its effects:

Effects of the Act

The Act encompasses 30 years of spying legislation, laws that the congress had declared unconstitutional for over 30 years because they violate core American principles and the Constitution. The USA Patriot Act invades the lives of every American giving the President full authority under the law to violate our most fundamental principles under the Bill of Rights.

The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Under the Patriot Act the government can instruct Libraries to turn over lists of books and internet records for everyone or anyone that visits their premises. The Library cannot reveal this “request” has been made and there is a penalty of imprisonment for uncooperative librarians. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!

The Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Patriot Act provides for searches, without probable cause. Law enforcement can break and enter into your home, collect computer files, reading lists, video and magazine lists and even “bug” your home with high tech surveillance equipment. All of this in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Patriot Act has destroyed Property Rights and allows for illegal examination of your private property.

The Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The Patriot Act makes it legal for any American to be imprisoned indefinitely, without the assistance of counsel, without the right to face their accuser and be denied access to the courts. These provisions within the Patriot Act suspend and nullify Due Process of Law guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

These provisions also violate the Sixth[2], Eighth[3] and Thirteenth[4] Amendments which guarantee the right to a speedy and public trial, the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and the prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude without first being duly convicted under the law.

The USA PATRIOT Act introduced sweeping changes to U.S. law, including amendments to:

Show Me Your Papers!!

If you are asked for identification at any time or place by any law enforcement officer – Be Warned! – Non-compliance could escalate to government sanctioned torture.

Could the atmosphere created by the Patriot Act have emboldened law enforcement officers to engage in activities that under ordinary circumstances would not be tolerated in America?

What happened to our fundamental Rights?

Bill of Rights Murdered

Did the members of the house violate their Oath of Office by blindly voting on a Bill they had never seen before? Was this gross incompetence on their part?

During Dec. of 2005, with open eyes and a flagrant disregard for the Constitution – both the House and the Senate voted to extend the USA Patriot Act, broaden its scope and make most of its provisions permanent.

Your Representatives did not hesitate to pull the trigger on your liberties.  This action can not be swept under the rug with any suggestion of mere incompetence by these men and women.  This second vote evidenced a blatant, brazen and deliberate violation of their Oath. But is it evidence of compromised politicians or was this straight up treason?

It only took 262 Republicans and 77 Democrats to kill the Bill of Rights.

American Terrorists

John Ashcroft stated: “To those who scare peace loving people with phantoms of lost liberty my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists.”

What is he really saying? Is he claiming that opposition to this Act is not an attempt to protect our liberty but “aiding and abetting” terrorists? Does he dare lump freedom loving Americans in with “terrorists.”?? If you speak out about the danger to freedom that legislation such as this holds do you become a “terrorist” in the eyes of your “servant” government?

Responsibility and Solutions

Many people have bought the line “you can’t fight city hall” and believe this horror cannot be overcome.  Please don’t buy into that because there is something that we can do.

In response to the loss of liberty under the Patriot Act, government leaders in states, townships and cities across the country have begun to systematically enact local legislation that prevents the enforcement of the Patriot Act within those localized communities.

The documentary “Washington, You’re Fired” notes that at the closing of 2007 –  there were 412 city, county and states which had passed anti-Patriot Act legislation and there were another 277 resolutions pending. Maine was the First State to pass such legislation against the Patriot Act followed by 7 other states, including, ironically, Washington, D.C.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee helps communities across the country to participate in an ongoing national debate about American Liberty. Their mission is to promote, organize and support national grass roots movements to restore and protect Liberty as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.  Every American is entitled to Bill of Rights protections.  It is the responsibility of every Freedom loving American to act to protect the Liberty guaranteed and protected by the Bill of Rights.

If you would like to become involved: go to www.bordc.org, find your state, locate your city and contact the person in charge of Patriot Act legislation in your area. Find out how you can help.

Americans must be vocal on this issue.   The USA Patriot Act MUST GO!!

Resources

Tools and Tips for Organizing Resolutions in Defense of the Bill of Rights, Bill of Rights Defense Committee.

Campaign for Reader Privacy.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Legislative Analysis of the USA PATRIOT Act, Oct. 2001.

OMBWatch: Access to Government Information Post September 11th, Feb. 02, 2002.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): Analysis of the Provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that Relate to Online Activities, Oct. 31, 2001.

Department of Justice, Field Guidance on New Authorities Enacted in the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Legislation (PDF).

Department of Justice, Report From the Field: The USA PATRIOT Act at Work (PDF), July 2004.

Senator Leahy’s Section-by-Section summary of USA-PATRIOT Act

News Articles

N.Y. City Council Passes Anti-Patriot Act Measure, Washington Post (Feb. 5, 2004)

Federal Judge Rules Part of Patriot Act Unconstitutional, CNN.com (Jan. 26, 2004)

Bush Wants Patriot Act Renewed, CNET News.com (Jan. 20, 2004)

FBI Applies New Rules to Surveillance, Washington Post (Dec. 13, 2003)

Patriot Act Hearings Sought By Democrats, Boston Globe (Dec. 12, 2003)

9/11 Commission Hears Debate on Patriot Act, Newsday (Dec. 9, 2003)

Anti-Patriot Measure Dropped From Bill, but Author Promises to Try Again, San Francisco Chronicle (Dec. 2, 2003)

Patriot Act Has Ashcroft Under Fire, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Oct. 19, 2003)

Legislative Battle Predicted for Patriot II, Fox News.com (Oct. 11, 2003)

FBI Bypasses the First Amendment to Nail a Hacker, The Register (Sept. 29, 2003)

Congressional Opponants Lash Out at Patriot Act, Ashcroft, Cybercast News Service (Sept. 25, 2003)

A Guide to the Patriot Act (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), Slate (Sept. 8-11, 2003)

Prosecutors are Urged to Press Congress, Washington Post (Aug. 22, 2003)

ACLU Files Suit Against Patriot Act, CNN.com (July 30, 2003)

Patriot Act Report Documents Civil Rights Complaints, CNN.com (July 22, 2003)

Speaking Out About Wiretaps, Washington Post (Aug. 30, 2002)

Recognition of Patriot Act Urged, Washington Post (Aug. 23, 2002)

He Knows What You’ve Been Checking Out, salon.com (Mar. 6, 2002)

States Declare Open Season On Public Access, Stateline.org (Mar. 1, 2002)

Anti-Terror Bill Becomes Law, abcNews.com (Oct. 26, 2001)

Patriot Act Draws Privacy Concerns, CNET News.com (Oct. 26, 2001)


 


 

[1] Graduated from Harvard Law 1990.  1991 Dept. of Justice Head of the Office of Legal Policy directly advising Pres. Bush on Constitutional matters pertaining to the new law.

[2] Amendment VI: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

[3] Amendment VIII: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

[4] “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

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February 4, 2009 - Posted by | Bill of Rights, Constitution, Elections, End of America, FBI, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, Freedom & Liberty, Future, Law, Liberty, Martial Law, Media, Patriot Act, Political Partys, Politics, Privacy, Scam, Terrorism, USA Patriot Act | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Comments »

  1. “NOT EVEN AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME” is the current alternative to the 13th Amendment’s vile EXCEPTION for slavery “as a punishment for crime”.

    Usage of this discount proviso nuteralizes formal rationalized debates between the slavery vs. involuntary servitude proponents. Their arguements only serve to demonize massive races, genders, and classes of people as the errant slave deserving of punishment, with the corporate profit motive not mentioned.

    Present Petition to Abolish Convict Prison Slavery has this change:

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, NOT EVEN AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

    Can, or will you please provide more positives about this proposed and petitioned proviso.

    A normal 13th Amendment would simply state:

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

    This version has actually been published in millions of text books, so that we all knew it as:

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

    Have you checked the states lately? Where did it come from? 1787 Ordinance, Article 6.

    Thanks for your Ice Blog.
    Towards Abolition of All Slavery,
    prisonslavery@yahoo.com

    Comment by Lee Wood | February 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. Great Article. Thanks. I agree

    Comment by Kurye | February 6, 2009 | Reply

  3. What an awesome posting Ice! Very well done and great informational links.

    Thank you for the time you put into it and I hope many will see it. I will try to give it some coverage on my blog as well.

    Lee Wood, I wasn’t aware of that. Thank you for that information.

    Comment by lilbambi | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  4. Thank you.

    I’m still working on a health related post. I may not be able to get it done as soon as I had planned. Wait for it… I think you will find it really interesting.

    Ice

    Comment by Ice | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  5. Kewl… I came ‘a’ lookin’ for it. 😉 And found your other great posting instead. I am not unhappy about that. LOL!

    BTW: Did you see today’s posting at BambisMusings.com … I was so upset about those Judges and the kids who were sentenced to excessive jail times after having been told they didn’t need a lawyer…

    Bambi

    Comment by lilbambi | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  6. Yes, I saw the original article. It’s amazing how men will totally screw up the life of “the promise of our future” just to make a few bucks. Ya never know how this kind of injustice is going to affect those young minds… and that is something that very few stop to think about.

    If you haven’t had a chance to read any of my postings at http://www.suijurisclub.net – you might want to take a minute to pop in there and check ’em out. Most of those postings are in relation to this article and the troubles to come that stem from such legislation. Start with a thread titled “A Matter of Opinion” in the Diverse section.

    BTW, I saw your article about Splenda. Really, thanx for the heads up on that!

    Ice

    Comment by Ice | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  7. Yes, that is what worries me. They are part of the problem that makes skeptics out of the ‘promise of our future.’ That is sad to start out so jaded, disillusioned. So very sad.

    I will check out suijurisclub.net … thanks 🙂

    Comment by lilbambi | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  8. Oh, and you are welcome on the article about the sugar non-substitute LOL! 😉

    Comment by lilbambi | February 14, 2009 | Reply

  9. Great Article

    Comment by kuryemax | May 20, 2010 | Reply

  10. I am not a terrorist but have been the victim of a domestic terrorist. My government has went so far as to watch me shower on a daily basis. I Have absolutely NO privacy in my own home. I have been dehumanized, humilated, harassed and violated by my captors called the government!

    Comment by Rhonda | January 23, 2011 | Reply


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