The Fog of War at Home
March 27, 2003 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Ground Laid for Historic Presidential Powers Push 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. But with this "really cool war to watch on TV", who will even notice before it's too late?
posted by bas67 (29 comments total)

 
This will get lots of press. I just read about it in PC Magazine. Everyone will see it. The real issue is that we all stood and watched while DMCA and Patriot I sailed by.

The problem is that everyone expects the person next to them to nip this BS in the bud. It's so awful and counter to American values that everyone assumes it can't be made into real law.

Bush & Co have made an art of taking advantage of this curious behavior.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:59 PM on March 27, 2003


You are so right y6.
posted by bas67 at 9:09 PM on March 27, 2003


I'm just sitting back here and trying to work out the reasoning and justification behind laws like this (Would like to remind that I'm Australian not American, although recent laws over here took great inspiration from Patriot 1).

What is the reason behind secret arrests exactly? What does it aim to achieve? Why would the government want to hold someone secretly when they could be public about the accusations and charges? Obviously it's a scary and it leaves the system open to great abuses, but why do they want to change the law to make this possible? What do they think they'll gain in terms of finding out the truth and punishing people appropriately?

I wonder the same thing about laws recently debated in Australia, where suspects could be questioned without a lawyer for a period of time. Why on earth would they want to do that? What threat would the lawyer pose? Ask yourself those questions when you ponder these laws.
posted by Jimbob at 9:10 PM on March 27, 2003


Jimbob,

Those are excellent questions. I would like to add to them "Where are all the small government conservatives who wanted these people in office, and why aren't they screaming to high heaven about this?
posted by bas67 at 9:24 PM on March 27, 2003


The problem is that everyone expects the person next to them to nip this BS in the bud.

Or they just realize that there is nothing they can do to nip this BS in the bud. It's quite clear that nobody inside the beltway is even listening anymore. We've just had the biggest anti-war protests in a generation, and the response is barely a peep; even if it were possible to mobilize similar crowds against whatever anti-citizen, pro-big-money legislation Congress has cooking next, somehow I don't think they would even notice.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:34 PM on March 27, 2003


we need to stop these madmen. yes, madmen. it's getting to that point.
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:35 PM on March 27, 2003


PATRIOT I passed in October 2001 when many Americans [and others] were too shellshocked to really think clearly, including Congress, I suspect. That is not the case now. It's sort of amusing watching this go through when at least one Congressman [okay okay Bernie Sanders] is pushing legislation to get part of the original act repealed.
posted by jessamyn at 9:36 PM on March 27, 2003


The Village Voice article is about what might come to be, but what already is happening is pretty scary too: Documents Show Ashcroft is Bypassing Courts With New Spy Powers, ACLU Says.

TalkLeft has a lot on this subject too.
posted by homunculus at 9:39 PM on March 27, 2003


Am I all of a sudden more political now? Why do I fear that the United States government has just slipped off the deep end? Does the conservative right support these initiatives? Are people thinking?

Why did most of the 1990s seem so blissful even though I experienced no direct benefits of the tech boom? Was I living in complete ignorance; I think I must have, because things couldn't be much different from that long ago, could they?

Terrorism worked, damn. Is that the big message here?
posted by ericrolph at 9:40 PM on March 27, 2003


The report linked from the Village Voice article, "Imbalance of Powers," is definitely worth reading.
posted by homunculus at 9:47 PM on March 27, 2003


ericrolph, exactly. If, as we were repeatedly told, the reason terrorists attacked is because "they hate freedom", then they scored big with PATRIOT I.

We were told, insanely, that if we stop buying shit in malls then "the terrorists have won". Well, I don't think the terrorists particularly wanted us to stop buying shit in malls. They want us to stop being America. Well, they've got us chewing on our own entrails now -- and if another terrorist attack has us passing PATRIOT II in another case of shellshocked stupidity, then they really will have won.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:50 PM on March 27, 2003


How far is too far?
posted by homunculus at 10:35 PM on March 27, 2003


My pants just went code brown.
posted by squirrel at 10:46 PM on March 27, 2003


I'm with donkeyschlong. None of this surprises me any longer. They're drunk on power and capable of anything.
posted by muckster at 11:03 PM on March 27, 2003


The entire administration got a copy of 1984, read it and thought Hey, this here is good shit...
posted by psychomedia at 12:36 AM on March 28, 2003


[insert obligatory expletive-sprinkled derisive comment demeaning shrubya's intelligence and or capacity for evil]

jeebus, i hope america wakes up before it is too late.
posted by quonsar at 4:30 AM on March 28, 2003


Does the conservative right support these initiatives?

Nope, they just ignore them. Selective perception at work ..
posted by Eloquence at 5:06 AM on March 28, 2003


"Things would be a whole lot easier if this were a dictatorship and I was the dictator." - repeated many times by GWBush

Time to get rid of those mesy things called elections and just appoint CEOs to top government positions? What?! It's already happened?!
posted by nofundy at 5:13 AM on March 28, 2003


nofundy -

Source please? I don't like the man at all, for a lot of reasons. But, if I am gonna buy that line, I want to see it quoted somewhere substantive.
posted by Irontom at 6:21 AM on March 28, 2003


PALPATINE rises.

PALPATINE: It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. I love democracy... I love the Republic. The power you give me I will lay down when this crisis has abated, I promise you.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:28 AM on March 28, 2003


The quote (AP) is:
It would be nice to have had the bill done yesterday, but sometimes democracy doesn't work quite that fast

but has more than once been translated/interpreted to:

Things would be a whole lot easier if this were a dictatorship and I was the dictator
posted by psychomedia at 6:58 AM on March 28, 2003


Source please?

No problem. Lots of recorded instances of variations of this one particular quote.
Link

On preview: your attempt to do damage control of actual quotes is admirable but ultimately doomed to failure psycomedia.
posted by nofundy at 7:18 AM on March 28, 2003


Unless a US-side terrorist incident occurs while the US is at war, I really can't imagine a justification for this... in a sense it almost says that the "war on terrorism" under PATRIOT I is a failure, in which case why go for more of the same?

And if the WOT is now a success, why mess with the formula?

The man most dangerous to the American way of life -- and the Americans generally -- isn't UBL, it's John Ashcroft.
posted by clevershark at 7:29 AM on March 28, 2003


CNN transcript:
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I told all four that there were going to be some times where we don't agree with each other. But that's OK. If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.
It was a failed attempt at humour- I think: Buzzflash.com quotes Bush on being dictator at three distinct instances, but the last two could be the same:

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier." Describing what it's like to be governor of Texas.
(Governing Magazine 7/98)

-- From Paul Begala's "Is Our Children Learning?"

"I told all four that there are going to be some times where we don't agree with each other, but that's OK. If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator," Bush joked.

-- CNN.com, December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it, " [Bush] said.

-- Business Week, July 30, 2001

posted by talos at 7:55 AM on March 28, 2003


Don't ferget to vote...
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:37 AM on March 28, 2003


Will we actually get to have an election in 2004? I'm starting to wonder...
posted by Dirjy at 11:59 AM on March 28, 2003


Ground Laid for Historic Presidential Powers Push

Shouldn't that be "Presidential Powers Putsch?
posted by kirkaracha at 12:31 PM on March 28, 2003


instead of elections we'll just be issued different colors of armbands, mine will be metafilter blue, for 'liberal cabal member'.
posted by th3ph17 at 1:06 PM on March 28, 2003


kirkaracha nails it!
posted by quonsar at 4:02 PM on March 28, 2003


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