Patriot Act’s Big Brother: welcome to the Fourth Reich


Richard Moore


Your friend, spouse, or neighbor disappears, never to
be heard from again. They have committed no crime. No
announcement is made of the arrest, and your inquiries
are met with "We know nothing."  No lawyer or court is
allowed to review the case or to have any information
about it. The person might have been put in some
prison, which has become the equivalent of a
concentration camp. Or they might have been deported to
some third world country run by a US-sponsored
dictator, possibly to languish in prison there. 
Indeed, they might have simply been shot and buried --
who's to know the  difference?

The era of "The Disappeared" is about to strike the land
of the free and the home of the brave. When this kind
of thing was going on in Argentina, under CIA
sponsorship, they used to take plane loads of people
out over the Pacific and shove them out the back of the
plane.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the first
people to be put in German concentration camps were not
Jews, but labor leaders, socialists, and others whose
beliefs made them "Enemies of the Reich".


Delivered-To: •••@••.•••
Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2003 11:16:46 -0800
From: "Butler Crittenden, Ph.D." <•••@••.•••>

Patriot Act's Big Brother
The Nation, March 17, 2003 issue 

In early February, the Center for Public Integrity
disclosed a leaked draft of the Bush Administration's
next round in the war on terrorism--the Domestic
Security Enhancement Act (DSEA). The draft legislation,
stamped Confidential and dated January 9, 2003, appears
to be in final form but has not yet been introduced in
Congress. Presumably the Administration had determined
that the timing would be more propitious for
passage--meaning less propitious for reasoned
debate--after we go to war with Iraq. But it is one
thing to play politics with the timing of a farm bill;
it is another matter to do so with a bill that would
radically alter our rights and freedoms.

If the Patriot Act was so named to imply that those who
question its sweeping new powers of surveillance,
detention and prosecution are traitors, the DSEA takes
that theme one giant step further. It provides that any
citizen, even native-born, who supports even the lawful
activities of an organization the executive branch
deems "terrorist" is presumptively stripped of his or
her citizenship. To date, the "war on terrorism" has
largely been directed at noncitizens, especially Arabs
and Muslims. But the DSEA would actually turn citizens
associated with "terrorist" groups into aliens.

They would then be subject to the deportation power,
which the DSEA would expand to give the Attorney
General the authority to deport any noncitizen whose
presence he deems a threat to our "national defense,
foreign policy or economic interests." One federal
court of appeals has already ruled that this standard
is not susceptible to judicial review. So this
provision would give the Attorney General unreviewable
authority to deport any noncitizen he chooses, with no
need to prove that the person has engaged in any
criminal or harmful conduct.

A US citizen stripped of his citizenship and ordered
deported would presumably have nowhere to go. But
another provision authorizes the Attorney General to
deport persons "to any country or region regardless of
whether the country or region has a government." And
failing deportation to Somalia (or a similar place),
the Justice Department has issued a regulation
empowering it to detain indefinitely suspected
terrorists who are ordered deported but cannot be
removed because they are stateless or their country of
origin refuses to take them back.

Other provisions are designed to further insulate the
war on terrorism from public and judicial scrutiny. The
bill would authorize secret arrests, a practice common
in totalitarian regimes but never before authorized in
the United States. It would terminate court orders
barring illegal police spying entered before September
11, 2001, without regard to the need for judicial
supervision. It would allow secret government wiretaps
and searches without even a warrant from the
supersecret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
when Congress has authorized the use of force. And it
would give the government the same access to credit
reports as private companies, without judicial
supervision. Historically, we have imposed a higher
threshold, and judicial oversight, on government access
to such private information, because government has the
motive and the wherewithal to abuse the information in
ways private companies generally do not.

But the trajectory of the war on terrorism is probably
best illustrated by an obscure provision that would
eliminate the distinction between domestic terrorism
and international terrorism for a host of investigatory
purposes. The Administration's argument sounds
reasonable enough--terrorism is terrorism, whether it's
within the United States or has an international
component. But in the Patriot Act debates, the
Administration argued that it should be afforded
broader surveillance powers over "international
terrorism" because such acts are simultaneously a
matter of domestic law enforcement and foreign
intelligence. Because foreign intelligence gathering
has traditionally been subject to looser standards than
criminal law enforcement, the government argued, the
looser standards should extend to domestic
investigations of "international terrorism." But now it
proposes to extend the same loose standards to
investigations of wholly domestic crimes.

The DSEA's treatment of expatriation and domestic
terrorism are harbingers of things to come. Thus far,
much of the war on terrorism has been targeted at
foreign nationals and sold to the American people on
that ground. Americans' rights are not at stake, the
argument goes, because we're concerned with
"international" crime committed mostly by "aliens."
With the DSEA, however, the Administration seeks to
transgress both the alien-citizen line, by turning
citizens into aliens for their political ties, and the
domestic-international line, extending to wholly
domestic criminal-law-enforcement tools that were
previously reserved for international terrorism

How will Congress respond? Thus far, when citizens'
rights have been directly threatened, Congress has
taken civil liberties seriously. Most recently, it
blocked the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness
data-mining program. But it blocked it only as applied
to US citizens. As long as the Pentagon violates only
foreign nationals' privacy, Congress in effect said, Go
ahead. But that tactic--protecting citizens' rights
while ignoring those of foreign nationals--is
untenable, not only on moral grounds but because if the
Administration gets its way, we are all potentially

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