Sunday, November 30, 2003 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA


Do you feel safer since the passing of the Patriot Act that enabled the government to circumvent civil liberties under the guise of antiterrorism? How much do you know about this law?

Enacted soon after the 9/11 attacks, the Patriot Act is assumed to be directed at possible terrorists. Most of its powers do little to increase the ability of law enforcement to bring terrorists to justice, but they do MUCH to violate the constitutional rights of all American citizens.

One provision amends the words of an earlier act, which had read "the purpose," to read "a significant purpose. " What difference could so small a change make? It opens the door for the FBI to circumvent the probable cause warrant requirement in criminal investigations whenever the FBI decides the information MIGHT have "a significant purpose.” No court can intervene.

The legal protection that says a court must determine that there is probable cause of criminal activity before a search or seizure can be made is totally voided. If the FBI thinks the information MIGHT contribute to an investigation, the FBI can simply go search and seize, and under the new "sneak and peek" provisions, they can do it without you knowing.

This clause mixes foreign intelligence gathering with domestic criminal investigation, allowing the FBI to spy on Americans whom no court has determined have done anything wrong.

In a recent speech, Al Gore stated, “I want to challenge the Bush administration’s implicit assumption that we have to give up many of our traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists. The administration has fostered false impressions and misled the nation.”

On Nov 5th, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that in an investigation of a strip club owner and numerous politicians, federal authorities used the Patriot Act in a public corruption probe. Tell me, what do Vegas strip clubs have to do with terrorism? It’s just the beginning.

One might think, "Good. Criminals are too well protected anyway. I'm glad to see they're finally getting their comeupence." The only problem with this thinking is that it's a very small step from using this legislation against criminals and using it against people who disagree with the government. Remember, the first thing Hitler did when he took office was remove the rights of people to question his power.

You don’t protect liberty by taking it away.

©2003 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre
# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 9:38 AM
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