24 December 2007

usa patriot act: loss of civil liberties since 9/11

heres a well written and sourced time-line of the events leading up to 2001, 107th congress, passage of the so called usa patriot act - H.R.2975 and H.R.3162 senate version.


October 26, 2001: Patriot Act Becomes Law
Bush signs the Patriot Act into law. Here are some of its provisions:

1) Non-citizens can be detained and deported if they provide “assistance” for lawful activities of any group the government chooses to call a terrorist organization. Under this provision the secretary of state can designate any group that has ever engaged in violent activity as a terrorist organization. Representative Patsy Mink notes that in theory supporters of Greenpeace could now be convicted for supporting terrorism. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12/2001]

2) Immigrants can be detained indefinitely, even if they are found not to have any links to terrorism. They can be detained indefinitely for immigration violations or if the attorney general decides their activities pose a danger to national security. They need never be given a trial or even a hearing on their status. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/2002]

3) Internet service providers can be ordered to reveal the web sites and e-mail addresses that a suspect has communicated to or visited. The FBI need only inform a judge that the information is relevant to an investigation. [Village Voice, 11/26/2001; San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/2002]

4) It “lays the foundation for a domestic intelligence-gathering system of unprecedented scale and technological prowess.” [Washington Post, 11/4/2001] It allows the government to access confidential credit reports, school records, and other records, without consent or notification. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/2002] All of this information can now be given to the CIA, in violation of the CIA’s mandate prohibiting it from spying within the US. [Village Voice, 11/26/2001]

5) Financial institutions are encouraged to disclose possible violations of law or “suspicious activities” by any client. The institution is prohibited from notifying the person involved that it made such a report. The term “suspicious” is not defined, so it is up to the financial institutions to determine when to send such a report.

6) Federal agents can easily obtain warrants to review a library patron’s reading and computer habits (see January 2002). [Village Voice, 2/22/2002]

7) The government can refuse to reveal how evidence is collected against a suspected terrorist defendant. [Tampa Tribune, 4/6/2003]

The law passes without public debate. [Village Voice, 11/9/2001; Village Voice, 11/26/2001] Even though it ultimately took six weeks to pass the law, there was no hearing or congressional debate. [Salon, 3/24/2003]

Congressman Barney Frank (D) says, “This was the least democratic process for debating questions fundamental to democracy I have ever seen. A bill drafted by a handful of people in secret, subject to no committee process, comes before us immune from amendment.” [Village Voice, 11/9/2001]

Only 79 congresspeople, and one senator, Russell Feingold (D), vote against it.

Few in Congress are able to read summaries, let alone the fine print, before voting on it. [Los Angeles Times, 10/30/2001]

Feingold says, “The new law goes into a lot of areas that have nothing to do with terrorism and have a lot to do with the government and the FBI having a wish list of things they want to do.” [Village Voice, 11/9/2001]

Supporters point out that some provisions will expire in four years, but in fact most provisions will not expire. [Chicago Tribune, 11/1/2001]

One year later, criticism of the law grows. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/2002]

Dozens of cities later pass resolutions criticizing the Patriot Act (see January 12, 2003). ~ read more
this is how louisiana's congressional delegation to the 107th congress voted:
david vitter - yea
billy tauzin - yea
jim mccrery - yea
john cooksey - yea
richard hugh baker yea
christopher john - yea
william jefferson - nay
~ source house roll call vote #386 12 october 2001

senate vote:
john breaux - yea
mary landrieu - not voting (nutty dino katrina mary landrieu snellings didnt vote on the original usa patriot act vote -- but in 2006 did vote yea on the usa patriot act reauthorization)
~ source senate roll call vote #313 25 october 2001