L. Neil Smith's
Number 191, September 23, 2002


Dis-Mything 9-11 Part 2: Is The USA Patriot Act Patriotic?
by L. Reichard White

Exclusive to TLE

"It must never be unpatriotic to support your country against your government. It must always be unpatriotic to support your government against your country." -Stephen T. Byington, quoted in "Lessons From Libertarian Tax Protests" by Bob Bennett, LP News, Spring 1986

In the last Dis-mything column, delicately entitled Protected My Ass, we ended with a couple questions:

1. Since they know they can't protect us, is what they are doing - - - the so-called USA PATRIOT Act, etc. - - - just political, irrelevant, inane, expensive, and counter productive as usual? Or it worse than that?

2. Aside from the $37 billion or so in additional wasted tax money, is there any more down side? So, is there any more down side? Is it worse than that?

Now what could be more patriotic-sounding than "USA PATRIOT" Act? Of course we must keep in mind that it's a political product from the same folks who gave us the "Bank Secrecy Act" and "Social Security," among others.

Actually the PR folks in the Bush Administration outdid themselves with this one -- "USA PATRIOT" is an acronym for the bill's official jaw-breaking name, The "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" Bill.

No, I'm not making this up.

But "Is it patriotic?" is the question. And we have an initial problem

"And the problem with the [USA PATRIOT] bill that came to the floor of the House is that we didn't know what we were doing. No one knew what was in that bill." -Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), FOX NEWS, October 15, 2001, 16:23:41

I'm not making that up either - - - Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tx) confirms Hinchey's report. He told Kelly Patricia O'Meara in a December Insight Magazine interview, "It's my understanding the bill wasn't printed before the vote -- at least I couldn't get it. They played all kinds of games, kept the House in session all night, and it was a very complicated bill. Maybe a handful of staffers actually read it, but the bill definitely was not available to members before the vote." [1]

Yep, that's right, when Congress passed the "Uniting and Strengthening America" bill, they didn't know what it was they were passing. According to Rep. Hinchey, here's how it happened:

"...it was a bad game of bait-and-switch. The Judiciary Committee had reported out a bill that had been worked on over a period of weeks. It came out of the Judiciary committee by unanimous vote. Then at the last minute, the leadership of the House switched that bill and produced another bill which no one had seen and only a handful of people had more than superficial knowledge of. And that was the bill that was put on the floor and we were asked to vote for it." And vote for it they did: It passed in the House by a vote of 356 to 66, in the Senate by a vote of 98 to 1. (Russ Feingold was the only Senator voting against the bill -- known as HR 3162).

Of course, this is not the first time Congress has injudiciously passed a bill without knowing what was in it. Try the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 where certain provisions were even declared secret. Then there was "The Emergency Banking Act of 1933" which passed in an hour-and-a-half - - - and despite the hard money clause to the U.S. Constitution, took the U.S. off the gold standard.

And of course we have the run-of-the-mill gaffs that are regularly passed by political bodies here in the united States. Like the so-called "Wizard Bill," passed by the 1995 New Mexico legislature requiring that when a psychologist or psychiatrist testified at a competency hearing they must wear a cone shaped hat imprinted with stars and lightinging bolts, and when they speak, "the baliff shall contemporaneously dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong."

Regarding passage of the Uniting and Strengthing America Act, Rep. Hinchey went on to say, "I don't think it was a good idea, frankly, to vote for a bill that is in danger of jeaprodizing civil liberties in ways in which we just don't understand," and -- apparently caught-up in a paroxysm of understatement -- "I don't think it's a good idea for the congress to pass a bill it hasn't seen, hasn't read, doesn't know the contents of and a bill that goes deeply into individual liberties and constitutional rights."

Anyone hear a Chinese gong sounding somewhere?

"In danger of jeaprodizing civil liberties"? "Goes deeply into individual liberties and constitutional rights"? Sounds like we're getting into "Or is it worse than that" and, "Is there any more down side" territory.

Surely Rep. Hinchey must be a lone alarmist. Well, that's half right -- he is an alarmist. But then so was Paul Revere. But Rep. Ron Paul had even more serious objections - - - "The insult is to call this a 'patriot bill' and suggest I'm not patriotic because I insisted upon finding out what is in it and voting no. I thought it was undermining the Constitution, so I didn't vote for it -- and therefore I'm somehow not a patriot. That's insulting."

Representative Bernie Sanders (Ind-Vt) concurrs: "I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and I'm concerned that voting for this legislation fundamentally violates that oath." [2]

It seemes, then, there are some serious constitutional concerns - - - even from billionaire financier George Soros???

"The Bush administration is exploiting the terrorist threat for its purposes, to generate fear and to overcome constitutional constraints on the use of force," he said. [3]

This takes a bit of explaining, but Soros may have it right. The explanation starts with Federal spin: We've been sold the notion this bill is aimed at terrorists. But ACLU President Nadine Strossen, who is also professor of law at New York University explains, "I like to refer to this legislation, as the 'so-called antiterrorism law,' because on its face the provisions are written to deal with any crime, and the definition of terrorism under the new law is so severely broad that it applies far beyond what most people think of as terrorism." Well-known whistleblower Al Martin lays out the details: "The Bush Administration very craftily says to the people that we need this power to detain terrorists, to freeze assets of terrorists, and to hold terrorists ex post facto of habeas corpus. What they're not seeing is that in the actual authorization bills, obviously the word 'terrorist' is not used. The word 'suspect' or 'detainee' is used." [4] Noting several unconstitutional provisions, Strossen goes even further, "There is no connection between the Sept. 11 attacks and what is in this legislation."

Well, but maybe this is just one of those legal things -- they would never really use these laws against us Americans. Would they? Strossen points out that they did in the past. So-called anti-terrorist surveillance laws passed in 1996 were used mostly against drugs, prostitution and gambling, not terrorists. But will this potential to use the "Uniting and Strengthing America (etc.)" Act against we American citizens actually happen?

Tomas Foral, a 26-year-old graduate student at the University of Connecticut, was moving biological specimens from a broken lab freezer last fall when he came upon some samples collected nearly 35 years ago from an anthrax-infected cow. Foral moved two samples to a working freezer in the building and promptly forgot about the matter. Now, he is paying for this seemingly innocent and mundane act. ... In July, Foral became the first person to be charged under the USA Patriot Act of 2001 with possessing a biological agent with no "reasonably justified" purpose-a crime that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. He was investigated by the FBI and now faces an investigation by his university. His name was added to a computerized government watch list along with fugitives, drug smugglers and immigration violators. -In the Lab, Suspicion Spreads, By ROSIE MESTEL, LA TIMES STAFF WRITER, August 28, 2002

There are other signs things aren't quite as they should be. A bill -- which already passed the House -- authorizing "Dubya" to set up a separate Cabinet-level "Homeland Security Department," largely to implement the "USA Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" Act, is wending its way through the Senate. And a provision in that bill

... will exempt its employees from whistleblower protection, the very law that helped expose intelligence- gathering missteps before September 11. ... "Whistleblowers are key to exposing a dysfunctional bureaucracy," Mr. [Iowa Senator Charles E.] Grassley says. ... "With these restrictions come a greater danger of stopping the legitimate disclosure of wrongdoing and mismanagement, especially about public safety and security. Bureaucracies have an instinct to cover up their misdeeds and mistakes, and that temptation is even greater when they can use a potential security issue as an excuse." Security bill bars blowing whistle, By Audrey Hudson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES, June 22, 2002 (www.washingtontimes.com/national/20020622-42082444.htm)

Also, in a rather bizarre twist, Bush (who had his own 9-11 papers immediately classified) seeks secrecy for Clinton's prolific leaving-office pardons. And danged-near everything else.

And then there's the proposed TIPS (Terrorist Information and Prevention System) program. It would turn one in every twenty-four Americans into snitches on other Americans. We would have twice as large a percentage of government spies in our midst as the previous record-holder, East Germany with it's hated Stasi. Some folks are beginning to question whether the USA PATRIOT Act may, perhaps, have been seriously misnamed.

George Washington U's staid Prof. Johnathan Turley, writing about JoseŽ Padilla, Yaser Esam Hamdi et. al. and the "enemy combatant" situation, is quite seriously worried. You don't know about Padilla, Hamdi, or "enemy combatants"? Shame shame. Stay tuned for part three of Dis-Mything 9-11 and you will. At any rate Turley, a respected establishment expert on constitutional issues regularly interviewed on the Fox News Channel, wrote in an L.A. Times piece,

The cases of Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi will determine whether U.S. citizens can be held without charges and subject to the arbitrary and unchecked authority of the government. ... Every generation has had Ropers and [U.S. Atorney General John] Ashcrofts who view our laws and traditions as mere obstructions rather than protections in times of peril. But before we allow Ashcroft to denude our own constitutional landscape, we must take a stand and have the courage to say, "Enough." -Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft's Hellish Vision, By JONATHAN TURLEY, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, latimes.com, August 14, 2002

We know from Dis-mything 9-11 Part 1 that they, including the PATRIOT Act, can't protect us [5] - - - and they know it. So, what's the upside?

Ron Paul clears that up: "This legislation wouldn't have made any difference in stopping the Sept. 11 attacks ... Therefore, giving up our freedoms to get more security when they can't prove it will do so makes no sense."

The question was, "Is the USA PATRIOT Act patriotic?"

Ron Paul doesn't think so. In fact, according to Paul, "Our forefathers would think it's time for a revolution. This is why they revolted in the first place. They revolted against much more mild oppression."

But the question is, "What do you think?"

If you think a bill that congress passed even though unanimously ignorant of it's contents is patriotic, if you think a bill that allows citizens to be "held without charges" and thus unconstitutionally guts the Bill of Rights is patriotic, if you think a bill which claims to be anti-terrorist but never mentions the word -- and has already been used against harmless citizens such as Thomas Foral is patriotic, and if you think that same bill -- which according to Rumsfeld, Schwartzkopf, Giuliani and Ron Paul won't protect you -- is patriotic, you can rest easy tonight.

Otherwise you might want to sign the petition for Immediate and Total Repeal of the Uniting and Strengthening America -- etc. -- Act www.petitiononline.com/sabene/petition.html.

Coming soon to a TLE near you:

Dis-mything 9-11 Part 3: Foreign Cave-dwelling Terrorists Are the Main Threat to Our Way of Life.


[1] Police State, Kelly Patricia O'Meara, Insight Magazine, Posted Nov. 9, 2001, Issue Date: December 3, 2001 (www.insightmag.com/main.cfm?include=detail&storyid=143236) return

[2] ibid. Police State, Kelly Patricia O'Meara, Insight return

[3] War on terror: FBI 'guilty of cover-up' over anthrax suspect, NICK PETERS IN WASHINGTON, news.scotsman.com, Sun 16 Jun 2002 (www.news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=655812002) return

[4] From the United States of America to the National Security States of America by Al Martin, ~Oct. 12, 2001 (www.almartinraw.com/column36.html) return

[5] OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Investment guru Warren Buffett offered a bleak prediction for the nation's national security, saying a terrorist attack on American soil is "virtually a certainty." ... "We're going to have something in the way of a major nuclear event in this country," said Buffett ... "It will happen. Whether it will happen in 10 years or 10 minutes, or 50 years ... it's virtually a certainty." Billionaire Predicts Nuclear Attack, Sun May 5,10:28 PM ET , By JOE RUFF, Associated Press Writer

As part of an ABCNEWS investigation, a team successfully smuggled 15 pounds of depleted uranium, half enough to make a nuclear device if it had been enriched -- and plenty for a "dirty nuke" all by itself -- from Austria thru Romania, Turkey and on ship-board, right thru the Port of New York into the U.S. heartland. return


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"Access to Space for Everyone!"

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