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The USA PATRIOT Act: Redefining American Principles

Debbie Lewis | 15.11.2007 06:49 | Anti-militarism | Terror War | World

What is the USA PATRIOT Act doing to our country? It is obvious that the Democratically lead Congress will not stop the Administration. It is time for the citizens of the United States of America to start fighting for what is rightfully theirs: their freedom.

We proudly claim that we live in a free society. As United States Citizens, we should cherish this freedom. It is, after all, why this great country was founded, to get out from under the rule of the tyrannical English King, George. It appears that in 2007 we have a modern day “King George,” President George…W Bush. From the President’s cavalier and manipulative attitude toward Congress, via his 800-plus signing statements, to his flagrant disregard for our U.S. Constitution, “…it’s just a goddamned piece of paper,” to his determination to invade our privacy, via illegal wiretapping, to his seemingly unquenchable thirst for war in the Middle East, he seems to want to dictate to The People, rather than lead The People. It also appears that the majority of Congress is protecting the President’s illegal activities, and We the People are letting all of them get away with it.

I’m not too sure our Founding Fathers would be proud to know that after all the sacrifices they made to forge this independent nation; we are giving up some of our most basic freedoms with joyful applause rather than a mighty roar of defiance. The USA PATRIOT Act and its subsequent re-authorization have threatened our liberty in ways nothing else ever has before. No president should have the power to label someone (anyone) an enemy combatant, make a quick phone call and have that person locked up until the sun no longer shines. We risk losing so much because our stewards in Congress have left the Executive Branch completely unchecked!

In an upcoming documentary, “Washington, You’re Fired,” writer/director William Lewis points out, specifically, what freedoms are being taken away. With threats to speech, privacy and due process, among others (basic liberties outlined in our Bill of Rights), what will be next? Lewis is quoted in the film “One Nation Under Siege” as stating, “The USA PATRIOT Act seems less of a tool to fight terrorism and more of an instrument to monitor and track and intimidate everyday, law-abiding citizens in this country.”

Behold what the USA PATRIOT Act and the “war on terror” mentality has unleashed on the United States of America.

On November 11, 2007, according to the Associated Press, Donald Kerr, Deputy Director of National Intelligence, proposed that U.S. citizens rethink their definition of privacy. Instead of privacy meaning “secluded from public view” or “free from intrusion,” we are now being told that privacy should be thought of as “government, and businesses, properly safeguarding our private communications and financial information.” Should corporations have a hand in governing and monitoring our privacy? Where are the checks and balances in this fascist scenario? Does it still sound like “We the People” are in charge?

USA Today recently published two interesting articles about the “terrorist watch list.” It appears that the watch list has more than 755,000 names on it, and apparently there are even infants on this list. Of those people, around 53,000 have been questioned since 2004. Do the math! That isn’t even ten percent of the total! With that many potential targets, you would think they would put someone in charge of interviewing those people, so they can clear as many names off of the list as possible.

There have been approximately 15,000 people file appeals to have their names removed from the list since February 2007. Lisa Graves, of the Center for National Security Studies, says, “There is no rational, reasonable estimate that there’s anywhere close to that many suspected terrorists.” This, according to her, “…undermines the authority of the list.” Senator Joe Lieberman has stated there are some major strides to be taken “…if (the list) is to be as effective as we need it to be.” If effectiveness is so critical, why, in late 2007, do we still have almost three quarters of a million people on the terrorist watch list?

In December 2006, a UCLA student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, was reading in the school library when asked for his ID by Campus Police. What happened next should horrify free citizens everywhere. The campus police left and he finished up his reading. As Tabatabainejad was leaving the library, he was stopped by Campus Police and eventually tasered for not complying with the request to show his ID. And, he was tasered multiple times. Some say he deserved it for not showing his ID, while others hold fast to the notion that a “show me your papers society” was bad for Germany back in the 1930’s and it’s bad for America now. Why, in the United States, should we be forced under penalty of torture to show our papers to anyone? Is that privacy? Is that freedom?

At the University of Florida, student John Meyer was attending a forum in which there was a question and answer period. The mic had been closed, but the sponsoring officials and their guest, Senator John Kerry, allowed Meyer to ask his questions. Apparently something about the way he asked his questions set off the sponsoring official and the Campus Police stepped in to stop the line of questioning. Meyer was never told for what he was being manhandled, even after repeatedly asking. Officers kept shoving him and yelling for him to stop resisting. After being wrestled to the floor, he told the officers he would leave quietly. Instead of letting Meyer up, officers chose to tase him. People in the audience just sat by and almost appeared not to be bothered by the incident.

In a report from October 2007, a mother in California was on trial for refusing to accept a particular cancer treatment for her son. After he was diagnosed with cancer, and subsequently scared to death by doctors, the seventeen year old and his mother opting for a holistic approach to his “disease.” The doctor reported his mother to Child Protective Services for “gross negligent child endangerment” for not going along with the prescribed treatment. This mother and son “went on the lamb” so they could seek the treatment of their choice.

During the course of the treatment selected, the mother kept documentation, even having two separate byopsies done and a complete lab analysis when the treatment was over. These byopsies and lab showed there was no sign of cancer. Mother and son returned home, turning themselves in to authorities, along with copies of the documentation. They were arrested and eventually released, treated horribly and the mother is now on trial. Doctors still want to perform surgery and chemotherapy, even though the labwork shows no sign of cancer. Why is the barbaric treatment of this mother and son by the medical establishment being tolerated? Why are the courts even wasting time and taxpayer money on a trial of a mother trying to protect her son from a disease he no longer has?

These atrocities are happening right here in the United States of America! Our government is spying on its own citizens, representatives are stealing fundamental liberties, police brutality, torture, denying citizens the right to decide their own medical path…and these are just recent examples of the many intrusions into our free lives. What about Corporations? What about AT&T and Verizon turning over phone records of their clients without a warrant? Where is our justice?

It is time for us, as U.S. citizens, to take up the gauntlet. Do not wait for someone to do it for you. You have heard many times that “freedom is not free.” If you are under the assumption that our military is protecting your “freedom” then you better take another look. Our military has nothing to do with your right of free speech, privacy, due process or any other liberty you should cherish. Our military is supposed to protect us, and our borders, from enemies, both foreign and domestic.

As citizens of the United States of America, we are duty-bound to participate in our country to keep our freedoms, or they will be taken. Once taken, it will be too late. After all, Germany was a free Republic, which became a dictatorship, yet continued to call itself a Republic during the reign of Hitler. The United States of America is a Republic, sitting on the edge of a dictatorship, calling itself a democracy. You better get involved, for your freedom is up to YOU!

Video Endnotes:

Endnotes: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001 Intel Official: Say Goodbye to Privacy Terror watch list swells to 755,000 15,000 Want of the Terror Watch List Student shot with Taser by UCPD officers UCLA Tasering Student Tasered at Kerry speech Andrew Meyer Video A Story of Surveillance Former Technician 'Turning In' AT&T Over NSA Program Mother Jailed, Put on Trial for Curing Her Son of Melanoma,2933,180082,00.html NSA Caught Placing Cookies on Web Visitors' Computers AT&T Class Action EFF's Class Action Lawsuit Against AT&T for Collaboration with the NSA's Illegal Dragnet Surveillance Verizon Sued For Alleged Wiretapping,2933,184483,00.html Watchdog Group: Google Desktop Huge Security Risk

Debbie Lewis
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