Patriot Act abuse - more evidence of Bush League duplicity
A recent NY Times article by Eric Lichtblau says a recent Justice Department report documents many cases of the USA Patriot Act, supposedly the nation's bulwark against terrorism, being used for purposes that have nothing to do with terrorists or terrorism.
Publicly, Attorney General John Ashcroft and senior Justice Department officials have portrayed their expanded power almost exclusively as a means of fighting terrorists, with little or no mention of other criminal uses.
"We have used these tools to prevent terrorists from unleashing more death and destruction on our soil," Mr. Ashcroft said last month in a speech in Washington, one of more than two dozen he has given in defense of the law, which has come under growing attack. "We have used these tools to save innocent American lives."
Internally, however, Justice Department officials have emphasized a much broader mandate.
A guide to a Justice Department employee seminar last year on financial crimes, for instance, said: "We all know that the USA Patriot Act provided weapons for the war on terrorism. But do you know how it affects the war on crime as well?"
Beware migrating stories on the Patriot Act. Remember the invasion of Iraq? It was sold to the country on the basis of The imminent Iraqi threat to the US. When it became obvious that Iraq posed no imminent threat, it was suddenly about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Now that it's obvious they had no WMDs, it was about liberating the Iraqi people (which, by the way, would make it an illegal war, as if anyone in the Bush administration cared about such technicalities).
The same thing will happen with the Patriot Act. The new police powers it grants were sold to us as necessary to fight terrorism. Expect a gradual shift in emphasis over the coming year. By the time the 2004 election rolls around, we'll be so inured to the use of Patriot Act provisions against non-terrorists, they'll not only be openly calling it a tool in the "War on Crime," they'll be stumping for Patriot Act II on the same basis. Criminals, they will tell us, are not patriots, and it's only patriotic to give the police the tools to pursue them.
Never mind that the nation's courts and legislatures have held for years that these particular tools go beyond what the police ought to have at their disposal. Never mind that the civil liberties taken away under the Patriot Act have never been deemed dispensable before. And never mind that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. If the members of the Bush League have their way, by the time George W. leaves office the Supreme Court will be packed with right-wingers ready to redefine the constitution and legitimize the theft of human liberty for the sake of security.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin
It's not really about our security anyway, not yours and mine. It's about repositioning government as the defender of the corporations that own most of America (and America's politicians)--and are moving closer and closer to their goal of owning the whole world. We're headed towards a high-tech feudalism, in which the people depend on their corporate masters for their homes, their livelihood, and their very lives.
That's exactly the kind of society the Founding Fathers revolted against. Don't look now, but your children and grandchildren may have to fight the same revolution.