Drastic changes due for America after terror attacks
November 4, 2001 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Drastic changes due for America after terror attacks We are to become a garrison state, for better or worse, with the CIA more intimately involved with internal (domestic) doings and the FBI taking on new duties.
posted by Postroad (20 comments total)
in other news, sales of grow lamps and hydroponics paraphernalia skyrocket as borders tighten...
posted by quonsar at 2:23 PM on November 4, 2001

One Senator, Russ Feingold (Dem-Wisconsin) voted against the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism bill (USA PATRIOT). It didn't matter that everyone else was voting for it, or that nine months ago he had voted to confirm the bill's prime advocate, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. What mattered most, he says, were the freedoms that were being taken away.

Feingold, chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, has posted a 10-page statement on his Web site outlining the reasons for his vote. An excerpt: "Of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists. But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America."
posted by Carol Anne at 2:33 PM on November 4, 2001

You know, having read the snippet presented in this thread I must admit that I am after all disappointed in Senator Feingold. Though he took a laudable stand on the USA PATRIOT act by opposing it, the passage presented above shows that even HE doesn't "get it".

Case in point - the Soviet Union had a reputation as a country where the government did open people's mail, castigated many for what they thought and wrote, and imprisoned countless on mere suspicions, and to quote a cliche, where are THEY now?

This only goes to show that we are not led by the best and the brightest, but by a rag-tag bunch of political opportunists who are, intellectually, significantly below the popular average and actually incapable of analyzing a situation outside of "what will this do for my reelection campaign".
posted by clevershark at 2:51 PM on November 4, 2001

clevershark: quonsar's hero of the moment
posted by quonsar at 2:59 PM on November 4, 2001

This only goes to show that we are not led by the best and the brightest, but by a rag-tag bunch of political opportunists who are, intellectually, significantly below the popular average

I don't think that's true at all. They are definitely political opprtunists, but they are VERY average if you take into consideration the entire voting population of America. They reflect the ignorance of the average American person. In fact, sometimes I'm glad that not everyone votes because I think that the situation might be far worse...

and actually incapable of analyzing a situation outside of "what will this do for my reelection campaign".

This is what we have made our political system to be. Another major problem is that these people are "law makers". Every year, they feel they nee to make more laws. How about taking a few years to remove the bad laws and fix the broken ones before adding any more crap to the heap?
posted by fooljay at 4:12 PM on November 4, 2001

"We are going to have to get used to a new way of thinking," Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, who is overseeing the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks, said in an interview.

I don't think I have anything to say. All the things that ran through my mind, (quick summary: 1984 references, America vs. Freedom, protect freedoms by removing them, people are stupid/ignorant/foolish/etc as shit, we have no leaders only politicians, democracy makes for ignorant stupid leaders, way to make freedom-loving folks want to become terrorists) everything was previewed and then deleted.

All I can say anymore is that I would rather sell my children into slavery than have them live in the America is America is becoming.
posted by fuq at 4:50 PM on November 4, 2001

hmm...the phrase "the beginning of the end" springs to mind.
posted by mcsweetie at 5:10 PM on November 4, 2001

Well, I hear Canada's nice. Nah, too close...hmmm...New Zealand, perhaps?

I never thought I'd be typing this, but Alec Baldwin is looking pretty wise, in retrospect.
posted by Optamystic at 5:21 PM on November 4, 2001

Optamystic -- has Alec, in fact, left yet?
posted by MAYORBOB at 6:15 PM on November 4, 2001

All I can say anymore is that I would rather sell my children into slavery than have them live in the America is America is becoming.
I think that most people are reacting very ignoranly. If anyone knew how our criminal justice system worked they would know that just because a bill is passed and made law does not mean that the statutes contained in that bill are carved in stone. The new laws that were passed in the "USA PATRIOT" bill, like all other laws, are subject to judicial review and interpretation. You know, what is commonly known as "judge made law."
If the past fifty years have been any guide, laws have been interpreted to favor personal freedoms and civil liberties. Hence before America can become a nightmarish reflection of "1984," many people will challenge these new laws in our courts. You can bet your bottom dollar that the first time a person is arrested and convicted under the provisions of the "USA PATRIOT" bill, that person will appeal and raise all sorts of constitutional issues. This same scenario will defiantly play itself out again, and again, and again. This will, intern, let these new laws come under review and perhaps even be struck down; or at least allowed to be interpreted in such a way that favors our freedoms and civil liberties. Hence our country already has the infrastructure to protect our rights.
This is why the US and other common law countries are so great. We have the power to fight tyranny and we can and will us it.
Think of that before sell your children in slavery.
posted by Bag Man at 6:29 PM on November 4, 2001

Good points, Bag Man. But fighting a law through judicial review is a pretty dicey proposition. It requires that someone be arrested under one of these moronic provisions. And that person had better have a few bucks in the bank, because they're gonna need a whole bunch of dough for bail and for an attorney.

If s/he can afford neither, then s/he is pretty much screwed. Think of what they will have to put up with in the slammer while a public defender goes through the appeal process. And then there's always the possibility that the judge(s) will find in favor of the government.

Remember kids, dissent will not be tolerated.
posted by Optamystic at 7:14 PM on November 4, 2001

It requires that someone be arrested under one of these moronic provisions. ... and if nobody is, then why worry about the law? And that person had better have a few bucks in the bank, because they're gonna need a whole bunch of dough for bail and for an attorney. There is this organization called the ACLU that often takes on cases like this, and sometimes even sillier ones. Somehow I think that getting liberals to fund an effort to overturn parts of the Patriot bill will not be all that difficult. This is why I would, in general, favor conservative administrations over liberal ones. Conservatives try to pass all kinds of liberty-restricting and morality-enforcing legislation, and sometimes succeed, but liberals are pretty good at getting the worst of them thrown out. On the other hand, liberals historically tend to increase spending and taxatiot to create new entitlements, which are often very difficult to get rid of after they've been instituted even if they turn out to have been bad ideas. I don't particularly love either the left or the right wing, but if I have to choose, I'll choose the one whose mistakes are easier to overturn.
posted by kindall at 8:07 PM on November 4, 2001

Eek. Where the hell did my paragraphs go???
posted by kindall at 8:08 PM on November 4, 2001

The ACLU has limited resources, and I haven't seen them jumping up to help any of the people that are currently being held (sans charges or bail) as "material witnesses".
posted by Optamystic at 8:29 PM on November 4, 2001

Somehow I think the repetitive nature of mathowie's tests fit in this thread.. like an echo to a canyon. Darn, now they're gone. As fleeting as echoes too.
posted by dness2 at 8:45 PM on November 4, 2001

So then here's the big question: Can they use the Patriot Act (whoever is in charge of federal nomenclature has got to go!) in the war on drugs?? If so, calling this politcal opportunism is quite an understatement. Is Charlton Heston starting to make sense?
posted by BentPenguin at 8:46 PM on November 4, 2001

And keep in mind that we have the moronic DCMA (good idea, BAD BAD BAD pork, law and execution) still enacted as law...and most of us can point to specific paragraphs that are unconstitutional/illegal about it. Some states have the SSSCA which totally destroys the idea of implied warranties and takes away consumers' rights to get what they paid for. Even our judges have to be politicians anymore. They're recommended for the supreme court by the president and confirmed by the senate...all politicians. Where was I going with this? It's not going to be overturned by the courts. Why would they? They might get a bit miffed at how their powers of judicial oversight have been trimmed, but so what? We still don't know who shot JFK. And now the government wants to be even MORE in control? I can't figure out how it's going to end. All I know is that the technological divide is getting bigger, and it's not about the have and have nots, it's about US versus THEM.
posted by taumeson at 8:48 PM on November 4, 2001

Scenario 1:The politicians have played into the hands of the terrorists.
Scenario 2:The terrorists have played into the hands of the politicians.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:57 PM on November 4, 2001

This isn't a "liberal/conservative" thing. When there's only one dissenting vote, politics don't enter the picture. Both parties are jumping at this chance, and I hardly think the Democrats would be the picture of restraint if the terrorists were right-wing Christians from Idaho.

And this isn't about getting elected, either. They could have passed any sort of dreck to say, "Hey, look, we did something!!!" They didn't have to pass this.

This is what any government dreams about. The FBI being used as a domestic intelligence agency? The CIA now with some authority to operate in the U.S.? Wiretaps, email surveillance, and mail restrictions loosened? They've been waiting for something like this, praying for that one thing that will finally drive the populace into the ever-loving and safe arms of their rulers. This isn't just the U.S.A., of course, but now any sort of conspiratorial "let's not tell the people about our dirty tricks" bullshit is unnecessary. Nope, your government's spying on you to make you safe. Have another beer!

As for judicial review: you need pockets, certainly, but keep in mind that anyone arrested under these new laws, any evidence collected by these laws, will almost certainly pertain to capital crimes - murder, treason, etc. I'd be hard-pressed to find a federal judge of any political leaning who would start considering the fine points of constitutional law if the defendant was planning to gas a subway car.

And the war on drugs was a fucking bumper car ride compared to this. The war on drugs was like community theater compared to this Broadway musical.
posted by solistrato at 11:18 PM on November 4, 2001

The text of the USA PATRIOT Act.

BP: it's not like there's an office of legislation naming. Whoever writes the legislation -- and that can be Joe "Former School Board President" Blow with no legal experience, now a freshman Rep -- pretty much gets to name it. Then everyone else votes on it. The name of the legislation very often has a purpose of "selling" the philosophy behind the law, and can indeed appear contradictory, e.g. a law that opens 900,000 acres of wetlands to development but protects 50,000 will be named the "Protecting Wetlands Act of 2002".

The writers of this one were very well aware that the act would be challenged repeatedly, so they included a rare (but Constitutional) "severability clause" in Sec. 2. This essentially says that if any part of the act is unconstitutional it doesn't invalidate the entire act; and if it's unconstitutional in respect to persons in certain situations, it isn't necessarily to others.

Also, while the law does contain a sunset provision for most of the 1016 sections, it explicitly exempts from that sunset the following: wider sharing of grand jury information; disclosure of information in intelligence (FISA) cases where the subject is a US citizen; law/intel flexibility in hiring translators outside of Federal employment rules; greater number of judges (7 to 11) authorized to grant FISA warrants; wider scope of subpoenas of electronic (telecom or internet) records (e.g. now including IP addresses); wider disclosure rules for communications, pay-per-view cable programs still excepted; indefinite delays on disclosure of secret search warrants and their execution; more flexible 'trap and trace' rules for electronic search warrants, including Carnivore; wider search-warrant rules for domestic terrorism investigations; trade sanctions for WMD-developing nations; and protections for ISPs against coercion under the law or installation of e.g. Carnivore without compensation.

Now, here's my take. During the Civil War, Pres. Lincoln constitutionally suspended the right of habeas corpus, essentially the right of defendants to a bond hearing and potential release. Since we do seem to be at war, albeit one we didn't want nor were largely aware of prior two months ago, greater security seems to be necessary. Since most of this law is set to expire, I believe groups such as the EFF and ACLU should focus their efforts against the sections that will remain, while building a rear-guard watch against any of the rest of it being enshrined into permanent law along the way through laziness or cleverness. Vigorous defense of citizens rights under the law should be the moral choice rather than attempts to dismantle it outright from the get-go.
posted by dhartung at 11:51 PM on November 4, 2001

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