Eroding Civil Liberties
I HAVE NOT UPDATED
THIS MATERIAL SINCE MID-2002.
AT THIS POINT (EARLY 2006) , IT
SEEMS ALMOST PRESCIENT.
IT WAS NOT, OF COURSE,
BUT MARK TWAIN'S COMMENT ON THE RUSH TO WAR
IS AS APPROPRIATE IN THIS CONTEXT
AS IT WAS IN THE ONE FOR WHICH IT WAS WRITTEN.
The last few months have seen a systematic erosion
of civil liberties unlike anything proposed since the Nixon era -- and unlike
anything seen since the McCarthy era of the early 1950s.
This page is dedicated to exposing elements of
that erosion. Please visit over the next few months as I add information
|Ronald Dworkin: "The
Threat to Patriotism" (New York Review of Books, 2/28/02)
|"What has al-Qaeda done to
our Constitution, and to our national standards of fairness and decency?
Since September 11, the government has enacted legislation, adopted
policies, and threatened procedures that are not consistent with our
established laws and values and would have been unthinkable before.
|Arhey Neier: "The
Military Tribunals on Trial" (New York Review of Books, 2/14/02)
|"Among the many defects of
President Bush's order for military commissions to try suspected al-Qaeda
members or supporters is that it lumps together at least four categories
of persons who have distinct sets of rights under either domestic or
international law. ..."|
|American Civil Liberties Union Analyses:
the Patriot Act Permits Indefinite Detention of Immigrants Who Are Not
|"What amounts to a life
sentence should at a minimum be based on clear proof at a hearing,
not on a certification of merely the level of suspicion that
normally allows only a brief stop and frisk on the street."|
the Patriot Act Allows for Detention and Deportation of People Engaging
in Innocent Associational Activity"
|"The Act also allows for
detention and deportation of individuals who provide lawful
assistance to groups that are not designated as terrorist
organizations. It then requires the immigrant to prove a
negative: that he did not know, and should not have known, that his
assistance would further terrorist activity."|
the Patriot Act Limits Judicial Oversight of Telephone and Internet
|"Law enforcement obtains
the equivalent of a blank warrant. In addition, nationwide searches
of pen register and trap and trace orders effectively insulate law
enforcement from challenge in court."|
the Patriot Act Expands Law Enforcement 'Sneak & Peek' Warrants"
|"The Fourth Amendment
protection against unreasonable searches and seizures requires the
government to both obtain a warrant and to give notice to the person
whose property will be searched before conducting the search. ...
[The Act] would allow law enforcement agencies to delay giving
notice when they conduct a search. This means that the government
could enter a house, apartment or office with a search warrant when
the occupant was away, search through her property and take
photographs, and in some cases seize physical property and
electronic communications, and not tell her until later. This
provision would mark a sea change in the way search warrants are
executed in the United States."|
the Patriot Act Puts the CIA Back in the Business of Spying on Americans"
|"Until the mid-1970's,
both the CIA and the National Security Agency ("NSA")
illegally investigated Americans. Despite the statutory provision in
its charter prohibiting the CIA from engaging in law enforcement or
internal security functions (50 U.S.C. 403-3(d)(1)), the CIA spied
on as many as seven thousand Americans in Operation CHAOS. ... After
these abuses were exposed, the CIA's domestic surveillance
activities and collection of information about Americans were
greatly curtailed. For example, the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act made it clear that the Department of Justice would
have the leading role in gathering foreign intelligence in the
United States. The USA PATRIOT Act would tear down these safeguards
and once again permit the CIA to create dossiers on constitutionally
protected activities of Americans and eliminate judicial review of
the Patriot Act Enables Law Enforcement to Use Intelligence Authorities
to Circumvent Privacy Protections in Criminal Cases"
|"The FBI has a sad
history of abusing broad foreign intelligence investigative
authority. It has investigated people because of their ethnic or
racial background, or because of their political viewpoint. ...
[The] Act would grant FBI agents across the country breathtaking
authority to obtain an order from the FISA court or any federal
magistrate requiring any person or business to produce any books,
records, documents or items. The judge exercises no discretion: he
must issue the order upon receipt of the FBI application asserting
that the FBI seeks the records for a foreign intelligence
the Patriot Act Puts Student Privacy at Risk"
|"The Act amends the
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the
confidentiality requirements for statistical databases of student
information (Sections 507 & 508). Law enforcement officials
already have adequate tools to access student records under current
law. These sections of the bill would allow law enforcement
officials to cast an even broader net for student information
without any particularized suspicion of wrongdoing. When these
student record anti-privacy proposals are combined with other
information-sharing provisions contained in the USA PATRIOT Act,
highly personal student information will be transmitted to many
federal agencies that could lead to adverse consequences far beyond
the stated goal of the anti-terrorism bill."|
the Patriot Act Puts Financial Privacy at Risk"
|"The Act would continue
the unfortunate trend of expanding government access to personal
financial information rather than safeguarding it against intrusion.
While there is a need to shut down the financial resources used to
further acts of terrorism, this legislation goes beyond its stated
goal of combating international terrorism and instead reaches into
innocent customers' personal financial transactions."|
and Free in Times of Crisis" (page & links)|
A right-wing report entitled
Civilization: How Our Universities are Failing America and What Can Be Done
About It", by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
For those of us who lived through the McCarthyism of the early 1950s,
the FBI repression of the late 1960s, and the Reagan attacks on free
speech in the early 1980s, this is a scary document. Note
that its selective quotes and overall rhetoric lump all dissenters with
the terrorists. Are we starting down this road again? -- js
ACTA took so much flak for publishing this "report" that it
changed the original version by removing specific professor's names,
substituting such things as "Professor of _______ at
MIT". This seems to blame schools, not individuals, but it
still encourages repression, takes quotes out of context, and equates
honest questions with disloyalty. I'll raise their grade from
"F" to "D" -- and still flunk them for
response from the American Association of Colleges &
Universities web site
Here's a way to fight back: Join the
All contents Copyright © 1996-2002 by Jim Spickard
Revised, March 2002