"Bushwacked by the Patriot Act"
Published 01 July 2005
(word count: 750)
The Patriot Act, as all good libertarians know, is a grab-bag of anti-terror tactics passed in a panic, largely unread, by our DC "Run-It's-a-Cessna!" scaredy-crats after the 9-11 attacks. Some law-nonreaders, almost uncharacteristically exhibiting second thoughts, inserted sunset clauses.
Sunset is now nigh. The House recently tossed us a couple of crumbs by voting to void provisions that permitted spying on library cards and bookstore receipts. As of this date, other odious articles like holding suspects Incommunicado and warrantless sneak-and-peek searches still stand.
Our President, who thus far has never met a law he didn't like, threatens his first veto if the entire Patriot package isn't made permanent. "The Patriot Act," proclaimed Our President, "closed dangerous gaps in America's law enforcement and intelligence capabilities."
Someone ought to inform Our President that those "dangerous gaps" also go by the name "Bill of Rights."
Far from scaling back the act, Our President proposes super-sizing FBI sinew so they can subpoena records in terrorism investigations without the approval of a judge or grand jury. This will be very helpful, as it will put the G-Men on equal jack-booted footing with the Gestapo, KGB, Stasi, SAVAK, CIA, et al.
Bill of What?
But fear not. Our President quixotically quotes a Democrat, Kalifornia Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has "looked into the administration's use of the Patriot Act and found no abuses."
Someone ought to inform Our Senator that her findings are irrelevant since the very existence of these laws violate our civil liberties. As a recent Libertarian Party press release put it, "In its current form the Patriot Act violates at least six of the amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights."
Bill of What?
Contrarily, Lisa Graves of the ACLU contends, "the Justice Department's inspector general reported that 7,000 people have complained of abuse."
Feinstein and Graves must be looking in different directions for their examples of abuse. Personally, I can't find any Patriot Act abuses either, and I've read "Mother Goose" from cover to cover.
Still: "My message to Congress is clear", claims Our President. "Terrorist threats against us will not expire at the end of the year and neither should the protections of the Patriot Act."
Libertarians might retort, "What protects us from the Patriot Act?" You might also come away with the impression that a "terrorist" is a box cutter-wielding Middle Eastern Muslim man who slits the throats of flight attendants and flies jumbo jets into jumbo buildings full of people. But you would be wrong. We are all terrorists, even after the aforementioned slight slimming down of the Patriot Act. If you doubt it, consider the following reports from our mainstream media.
Six animal rights activists were charged with, among other acts, harassing and vandalizing a company that tests its products on animals. But the protestors aren't charged with harassment and vandalism. They're charged with "animal enterprise terrorism." They should be charged with what they did, not on the basis of how BigGov labeled them. If we speak disapprovingly of our political potentates, are we committing "rhetorical terrorism?"
Worst Thing Since Sliced Bread
Cecilia Beaman is a 57-year-old grandmother, an Iowa Middle School principal and, in late May, one of several chaperones for 37 students on a trip to California. She made sandwiches for the kids. So far, so good. But on the trip home, a 5 1/2 inch bread knife with rounded tip and serrated edge accidentally ended up in her carry-on cooler. Guess what. "You've committed a felony," stated the TSA scope dope. "And you're considered a terrorist." So what are we supposed to do, slice our salami sandwiches with a Tampon?
Before 9-11, FBI flatfeet apprehended a pair of Arabs pilfering boxes of cornflakes in New Jersey. They were later let loose. After 9-11, the Bureau barged back in and charged them with "conspiracy to possess" the burgled breakfast crunchies. To this day, they remain on the federal government's list of terrorism cases. Quoting from an AP article on Our President's passion for the Patriot Act: "The president credited the law with helping to bring federal charges against more than 400 suspects — more than half of whom have been convicted." Including, we may surmise, our two terroristic cornflake filchers. Noted an attorney for one of the arrestees, "This case had no connection to terrorism unless you consider cornflakes weapons of mass destruction."
All of which makes me really nervous about that four-fingered foot-long backscratcher in my bedroom. It's not registered.
Bill of What?
- by Garry Reed