AmeriKKKA: New Terror Laws Used Vs. Common Criminals

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"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." - A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures,regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.

New Terror Laws Used Vs. Common Criminals
By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA - In the two years since law enforcement agencies gained fresh powers to help them track down and punish terrorists, police and prosecutors have increasingly turned the force of the new laws not on al-Qaida cells but on people charged with common crimes.

The Justice Department (news - web sites) said it has used authority given to it by the USA Patriot Act to crack down on currency smugglers and seize money hidden overseas by alleged bookies, con artists and drug dealers.

Federal prosecutors used the act in June to file a charge of "terrorism using a weapon of mass destruction" against a California man after a pipe bomb exploded in his lap, wounding him as he sat in his car.

A North Carolina county prosecutor charged a man accused of running a methamphetamine lab with breaking a new state law barring the manufacture of chemical weapons. If convicted, Martin Dwayne Miller could get 12 years to life in prison for a crime that usually brings about six months.

Prosecutor Jerry Wilson says he isn't abusing the law, which defines chemical weapons of mass destruction as "any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury" and contains toxic chemicals.

Civil liberties and legal defense groups are bothered by the string of cases, and say the government soon will be routinely using harsh anti-terrorism laws against run-of-the-mill lawbreakers.

"Within six months of passing the Patriot Act, the Justice Department was conducting seminars on how to stretch the new wiretapping provisions to extend them beyond terror cases," said Dan Dodson, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. "They say they want the Patriot Act to fight terrorism, then, within six months, they are teaching their people how to use it on ordinary citizens."

Prosecutors aren't apologizing.

Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites) completed a 16-city tour this week defending the Patriot Act as key to preventing a second catastrophic terrorist attack. Federal prosecutors have brought more than 250 criminal charges under the law, with more than 130 convictions or guilty pleas.

The law, passed two months after the Sept. 11 attacks, erased many restrictions that had barred the government from spying on its citizens, granting agents new powers to use wiretaps, conduct electronic and computer eavesdropping and access private financial data.

Stefan Cassella, deputy chief for legal policy for the Justice Department's asset forfeiture and money laundering section, said that while the Patriot Act's primary focus was on terrorism, lawmakers were aware it contained provisions that had been on prosecutors' wish lists for years and would be used in a wide variety of cases.

In one case prosecuted this year, investigators used a provision of the Patriot Act to recover $4.5 million from a group of telemarketers accused of tricking elderly U.S. citizens into thinking they had won the Canadian lottery. Prosecutors said the defendants told victims they would receive their prize as soon as they paid thousands of dollars in income tax on their winnings.

Before the anti-terrorism act, U.S. officials would have had to use international treaties and appeal for help from foreign governments to retrieve the cash, deposited in banks in Jordan and Israel. Now, they simply seized it from assets held by those banks in the United States.

"These are appropriate uses of the statute," Cassella said. "If we can use the statute to get money back for victims, we are going to do it."

The complaint that anti-terrorism legislation is being used to go after people who aren't terrorists is just the latest in a string of criticisms.

More than 150 local governments have passed resolutions opposing the law as an overly broad threat to constitutional rights.

Critics also say the government has gone too far in charging three U.S. citizens as enemy combatants, a power presidents wield during wartime that is not part of the Patriot Act. The government can detain such individuals indefinitely without allowing them access to a lawyer.

And Muslim and civil liberties groups have criticized the government's decision to force thousands of mostly Middle Eastern men to risk deportation by registering with immigration authorities.

"The record is clear," said Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People for the American Way Foundation. "Ashcroft and the Justice Department have gone too far."

Some of the restrictions on government surveillance that were erased by the Patriot Act had been enacted after past abuses — including efforts by the FBI (news - web sites) to spy on civil rights leaders and anti-war demonstrators during the Cold War. Tim Lynch, director of the Project on Criminal Justice at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said it isn't far fetched to believe that the government might overstep its bounds again.

"I don't think that those are frivolous fears," Lynch said. "We've already heard stories of local police chiefs creating files on people who have protested the (Iraq (news - web sites)) war ... The government is constantly trying to expand its jurisdictions, and it needs to be watched very, very closely."

_

On the Net:

Justice Department: http://www.usdoj.gov

American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites): http://www.aclu.org



Bracing for Bush's War at Home
by Chisun Lee
http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0313/lee.php
March 26 - April 1, 2003

Continue to Patroit Act II UPDATE LINKS

An ugly theory popped up in the nation's capital several weeks ago. The Bush administration would wait until war began, and worry gripped the homeland, to ram a staggering package of domestic security measures through a Congress silenced by fears of seeming unpatriotic.

Such measures would radically expand the executive branch powers already inflated by the 2001 USA Patriot Act.

On Friday—as the U.S. began suffering combat fatalities, and the terror alert on whitehouse.gov glared orange for "high"—Justice Department spokesperson Mark Corallo confirmed to the Voice that such measures were coming soon.

Exact details are confined to "internal deliberations," he said, but the proposals "will be filling in the holes" of the Patriot Act, "refining things that will enable us to do our job."

But a new, comprehensive review of Bush's growing presidential power hardly reveals any "holes." Rather—using court positions, internal policy changes, and secret decisions as bricks—the administration has built the executive branch into a fortress, nearly invulnerable to the checks of the judiciary and Congress.

Most alarming, according to the watchdog authors of the 96-page report, "Imbalance of Powers," the complexity of this historic expansion continues to mask its true proportions.

"You have to connect the dots," said Elisa Massimino, Washington, D.C., director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (LCHR), a 25-year nonprofit defender of civil liberties and humane policy. LCHR analyzed hundreds of pages of legislation, policy directives, and congressional records, plus a spate of major court cases such as the suit challenging the indefinite detention, without representation, of accused American "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla.

The big picture shows an "executive branch amassing so much more power," said Massimino, even in the past six months alone. But since many developments have occurred "under the radar," she said, few members of Congress, let alone of the public, could easily map out such a blueprint on their own.

Briefly, the dots connect like this:

The administration's refusal to release Patriot Act-related records to Congress, the refusal to release the names of detainees and open their court hearings to the public, and the Freedom of Information Act exemptions under the Homeland Security Act add up to a secretive government, acting outside the scrutiny of the public and its representatives.

The development of the Total Information Awareness program, the mining of individuals' shopping and library records, and the melding of spy and arrest functions add up to government invasion of privacy and restriction of expression.

The indefinite detention of U.S. citizens deemed by Bush to be "enemy combatants," the secret detention and deportation of immigrants not charged with a crime, and the tracking and questioning of nationals from particular countries add up to unilateral executive power to deprive people of their physical liberty.

Even with the existing behemoth, Massimino said, a "quantum leap" in executive branch authority is possible. She referred to the recently leaked Justice Department draft bill, the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, commonly known as Patriot Act II.

"It would make over 100 changes to existing law," she said. But as recently as March 4, Attorney General John Ashcroft was being coy about it, refusing to discuss any of the 86-page draft at a Senate hearing.

Among the more extreme powers Patriot Act II would grant the executive branch: The ability to strip citizenship from an American who supports a group the feds label as terrorist. Secret arrests—the government could avoid revealing the location of, charges against, and evidence on someone it was holding. Far looser checks on search-and-seizure activities of law enforcement. And a DNA database for people deemed to be terrorist suspects.

Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin was among the first constitutional experts to condemn Patriot Act II as "a new assault on our civil liberties."

Last week he told the Voice, "What we're really worried about here is something being proposed while all eyes are on Iraq. People are whipped up into a frenzy. The executive will propose what, at a certain time, it thinks it can get away with." That, he said, could be the draft bill "in its most virulent form."

Before the war began, there were signs that Congress might fight future presidential power-hogging and bring more heft to the legislative branch. Some Democrats excoriated Ashcroft for his furtiveness on Patriot Act II. Some Republicans were talking about subpoenaing records that the Justice Department refused to release on its use of Patriot Act I powers.

Yet wartime has traditionally meant deferring to the executive. The entire post-September 11 period may have seemed like one big state of war, with the Justice Department successfully skirting Congress and pushing every constitutional challenge to higher, more administration-friendly courts. But given the actual war in Iraq, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said last week, Americans can expect that "protections [of their individual rights] will be ratcheted right down to the constitutional minimum."

Ashcroft deflected angry Senate queries on Patriot Act II, saying "it would be the height of absurdity" to imagine the administration's hustling through a law without congressional review.

Yet on October 25, 2001, 98 out of 99 voting senators hurriedly passed the 342-page Patriot Act I—without any public debate and before most of them had read it.

The White House made clear their votes would be spun as a test of their patriotism.

Votes on Patriot Act II could also be a test—of who has the patriotism to right democracy's severely lopsided structure of checks and balances.

****** *Edit Insert
My country, right or wrong, for example, may sound patriotic, at first glance, but it's also frighteningly amoral
-- it's the sort of thing a Nazi might say...

True "patriots" are heroes, who do the *right* thing, not necessarily what a leader tells them to do "for their country"...

Supporting that sort of unprovoked action, regardless of how wrong it may be, just because it's an *American* action, strikes me as the very definition of "Nationalistically prejudiced"

Continue to Patroit Act III



*** Notes ***

I hate to disillusion you, but this illegal War IS about the oil control, Empire AmeriKKKa

Oil reserves in America are in fatal decline, wells that were producing 100 barrels a day are now only producing 7, and the reserves in Alaska have also started to decline. The two largest oil reserves on this planet are Saudi Arabia and Iraq respectively.

In a documentary on BBC 2 last night they showed two open letters written by Donald Rumsfeld, including in one of them was the urging of the attack of Iraq to preserve "American energy security" for it's oil reserves, and to get an American "friendly" administration in so that the oil would go to America before any other country could get it.

If America keeps consuming its oil at the current rate without importing it will use its reserves up in less than 5 years. The USA is the largest oil importers in the world. The action against Iraq was made even more important after the action in Venezuela. The administration then decided it needed a "friendly" country with a lot of oil.

Due to the stability of Saudi Arabia they had no choice but to go for the second largest reserves in Iraq.

But are you sure your on the right path if you believe that innocent people should be killed for oil and to deal with a dictator?

There are worse in the world. After all America is going after the most defenseless country. This action will not decrease the risk of weapons of mass destruction only increase them, after all, it looks like the only way to avoid being attacked is to "Control" them.

Pakistan, North Korea for example are dictatorships and they have nuclear weapons, but they are not being attacked. –"Not such easy pickings?"

You do know that it is against international law to invade a sovereign state for the purpose of regime change, and that if this is made to be the case all those involved are war criminals?



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