Nuadha's Tale

Ignorance can be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. -Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Patriot Act 2
(also known as the Bill or Rights Nullification Act 2)

Ashcroft is at it again. The Justice Dept. is preparing another proposal that will expand on the powers given to it by the Patriot Act and further destroy the notion of a free society. The proposal is available here. Here are some highlights:

  • Section 201, "Prohibition of Disclosure of Terrorism Investigation Detainee Information": Makes it legal for the Justice Dept. to withhold information requested under the freedom of information act and continue to keep secret information regarding the detainees, men and women that are currently being held without being accused of any crime.

  • Section 202, "Distribution of 'Worst Case Scenario' Information": Allows chemical companies to withhold information regarding the dangers that the chemicals they develop present to communities---the "worst case scenario" information. They are currently required to supply this information to the EPA.

  • Section 312, "Appropriate Remedies with Respect to Law Enforcement Surveillance Activities": Allows police more freedom to spy on American citizens.

  • Section 501, "Expatriation of Terrorists": Allows the Justice Dept. to expatriate citizens ""if, with
    the intent to relinquish his nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United Stated has designated as a 'terrorist organization'." Along with the Patriot Act, this would allow Ashcroft to ship off anyone who dissents, just by declaring their organization "a terrorist organization." (Remember- the Justice Department can name almost any group they want a terrorist organization. They got that ability in the first Patriot Act and it's extremely loose definition of terrorists.) Previously, an american citizen would have to state his wish to relinquish his or her citizenship, this Act would allow the courts decide whether he or she "intended" to relinquish citizenship.

I recently read a book of speeches given by Eugene V. Debs, a former presidential candidate and peace activist that went to jail for his anti-war views during the first world war. This man commited no crime but to exercise his right to free speech. The government has a long history of ignoring the rights of dissenters when they are preparing the public for war. They spied on and harrased Martin Luther King Jr. during the Vietnam War. Can we trust them with these powers once it is made legal for them? They won't use it to fight terrorism as much as they will use it to fight dissent.


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