Thursday, December 22, 2005

Patriot Act -vs- US Constitution

Patriot Act II versus United States Constitution


Attorney General John Ashcroft, with the blessings of President Bush, drafted a follow-up to the Patriot Act that would do even more violence to the Constitution.

The 80-page Justice Department draft of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 is labeled “confidential” but a copy was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

The Justice Department went to extreme lengths to hide its work, although the draft legislation is not classified information.

Viet Dinh, deputy attorney general for legal policies and principle Author of the Patriot Act, said there is “an ongoing process to continue evaluating and re-evaluating authorities we have with respect to counter-terrorism.”

While the draft is dated Jan. 9, the House and Senate Judiciary
Committees were falsely told nearly a month later that no such legislation was being planned. When the center acquired and shared a copy of the draft, Barbara Comstock of the Justice Department explained lamely that they had “not presented any final proposal.”

Under Section 201, a federal court decision requiring the government to reveal the identities of people it has detained since the 9-11 terrorist attacks can be overturned.

The draft reads:

“The government need not disclose information about individuals detained in investigations of terrorism until . . . the initiation of criminal charges”—no matter how long it takes.

Passed by Congress, it was the first time in history that secret arrests are specifically permitted under American law.

Under Section 501, an American citizen who provides “material support” to a group the government has designated a “terrorist Organization” can be stripped of his citizenship. Now, an American can lose his citizenship only by declaring a clear intent to abandon his country.

The proposed bill says an “intent to relinquish nationality need not be manifested in words, but can be inferred from conduct.” It is unclear which bureaucrats would do the “inferring.”

“This section of the bill means that if you were to send a check for the legal activities of an organization and, unbeknownst to you, it has been labeled as a terrorist group, then you could be deported,” wrote syndicated columnist Nat Hentoff.

“Deportations of American citizens are not ‘phantoms of lost liberty,’ ” Hentoff wrote, referring to an Ashcroft comment that his critics are scaring “peace-loving people with phantoms of lost Liberty.”

Under existing law, the FBI can collect DNA identification records of persons convicted of various crimes. Nevertheless, under Section 302 of the draft proposal, the attorney general or secretary of defense would be empowered to collect, analyze and maintain DNA samples of “suspected” terrorists.

All Americans would be in jeopardy as faceless bureaucrats label groups “terrorists” and grab citizens who may have the slightest association with a labeled group, according to Dr. David Cole, a law Professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

The enacted law “has radically expand law enforcement and intelligence-gathering authorities reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over surveillance, authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database on unchecked executive ‘suspicion,’ create new death penalties and even seek to take American citizenship away from persons who belong to or support disfavored political groups,” Cole said.

Many rational observers predict that President Bush’s planned attack on Iraq will result in a dramatic increase in terrorist crimes in America. This, in turn, will provide Congress with a plausible excuse for additional legislation to “combat terrorism.”