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PATRIOT II Legislation Leaked 851

Buck Mulligan writes "The Center for Public Integrity reports that it has obtained a copy of PATRIOT II -- a huge law enforcement power grab that is intended to build on the USA PATRIOT Act. It's called the 'Domestic Security Enhancement Act.' CPI says it would increase domestic intelligence gathering and surveillance while reducing judicial review and public access to information. For more on the first PATRIOT Act, see the EPIC page."
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PATRIOT II Legislation Leaked

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  • first post? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2003 @01:32PM (#5259122)
    This does not bode well. How much of our civil liberties are we willing to give up?!! Of course, this law doesn't affect the fat cats in congress... they voted themselves above the law.

  • Scares me... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeltaBlaster ( 300386 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @01:38PM (#5259158) Homepage
    That thing just scares me...
    - Secret Arrests
    - Having your citezenship striped for even unknowningly supporting terrorism (in Ashcrofts mind, who knows what that could include)

    And that list just goes on and on... Alls I can say is if that gets past as is ... "Oh Canada....."

    Of course Ashcroft and I would assume Bush were probably waiting till there little war with Iraq started to introduce/pass this so the public wouldnt notice
  • by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @01:50PM (#5259240) Homepage
    Section 501, "Expatriation of Terrorists": This provision, the drafters say, would establish that an American citizen could be expatriated "if, with the intent to relinquish his nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United Stated has designated as a 'terrorist organization'."

    Would that include the US government for giving $43 million to the Taliban in May of 2001 for their "War on Drugs" efforts?

    Call Gore. I think we just figured out how to evict the squatter.

  • fight for freedom (Score:2, Interesting)

    by koi88 ( 640490 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @01:54PM (#5259261)
    I don't know where this quote is from:

    "Some people fight so hard for freedom until there is nothing left of it."

    Though I strongly suspect the whole terrorism-panic and sudden need to attack states declared "evil" has other causes... Maybe the weapon industry needs new markets or the oil industry wants more countries to exploit... (and these are George W.'s friends so he is a nice guy and helps them)

  • by Profe55or Booty ( 540761 ) <greg@NOsPam.pcrash.cjb.net> on Saturday February 08, 2003 @01:54PM (#5259263) Homepage
    Section 501, "Expatriation of Terrorists": This provision, the drafters say, would establish that an American citizen could be expatriated "if, with the intent to relinquish his nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United Stated has designated as a 'terrorist organization'." But whereas a citizen formerly had to state his intent to relinquish his citizenship, the new law affirms that his intent can be "inferred from conduct." Thus, engaging in the lawful activities of a group designated as a "terrorist organization" by the Attorney General could be presumptive grounds for expatriation.

    so... they can take citizenship from anyone in an organization that they deem a terrorist group.


    i join a group that does guerilla-type media distribution, like maybe stuffing newspapers in those quarter machine things with pamphlets which include dying afghan children. then one day a police officer catches one of us, gets the group name out of them and the group members.

    the government could then deem us terrorists as we scared many-a-christian-family with those pictures.

    our citizenship could be revoked and we could be thrown out of the country.

    god bless amerika
  • Re:Just what... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WildBeast ( 189336 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @01:59PM (#5259285) Journal
    It reminds me of some german Pastor who said something like

    "First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me."

    Open your eyes. Look around. Watch the news.
    Jailing a 15 year old guy because his father is a member of Al-Qaeda is not what I would call fair.
  • by trentfoley ( 226635 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:03PM (#5259313) Homepage Journal
    According to this little bit of paranoia [theregister.co.uk] over at The Register, it may not matter who you vote for. Especially if you live in Nebraska!

    Man, I love a good conspiracy story. Tinfoil hats for all!

  • Re:Just what... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MKalus ( 72765 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [sulakm]> on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:04PM (#5259318) Homepage
    Hash: SHA1

    > I can still do the same shit I was doing even before bush > was in
    > office or even before Patriot.

    I take it you're white? Your name doesn't sound in any way shape or
    form like it is rooted somewhere in the far east?

    >The DMCA was put in BEFORE bush and even that hasn't
    > affected my
    > life.

    YET, the DMCA is something that the industry wants, they try to use
    it (just read the newssites, or even look at slashdot), give it
    another year or two and you WILL feel the effects (like when you buy
    your new HDTV TV).

    > Have any of YOU been hauled off to jail out of the blue?

    I had the "pleasure" TWICE to sit around with Immigration for quite
    some time, no I am not an american citizen and that was before 9/11
    but I wouldn't be surprised if they would decide to question me again
    the next time I fly into the US. Much more so now that Germany seems
    to be falling into the "Axis of Evil".

    > The day that ANY of these things happens to someone
    > that is NOT an extremely shady character to begin with,
    > is the day you can bitch.

    Buddy of mine, Israeli, trying to visit the states from Canada,
    because of his "accent' they pulled him out and had 12 hours of very
    interresting discussions with the immigration officers. Yeah I would
    say that is completly harmless.

    A lot of the thigns the US is discussing has been done in other
    countires (e.g. Germany with the national ID card).

    The problem with things like the Patriot Act is that it WON'T prevent
    anything, it will just give you an illusion of security.

    Version: PGP 8.0

    iQA/AwUBPkVGx1or0GSY5Ro/EQJiPwCfVxOljJ5zvqUmG+qw G2 9IMpoJo+YAoJDx
    - ----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
  • Re:Scares me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alfredo ( 18243 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:09PM (#5259348)
    "Having your citezenship striped for even unknowningly supporting terrorism (in Ashcrofts mind, who knows what that could include)"

    That is not spelled out, but it could mean any political party that isn't Republican. This could mean the end of the concept of loyal opposition. The GOP never did grasp that concept. Bush spelled it out clearly when he said, "You are either with us, or against us." They do not even allow for independent thought within the party.
  • Re:no difference (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Azghoul ( 25786 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:11PM (#5259362) Homepage
    But taken to the base level, both current major political parties want one thing: Big, caretaker government.

    Neither is particularly great with human freedoms. Democrats believe I should not be allowed to keep what I make, and force me to do things I don't care to do with my property. Republicans are more likely (though certainly not guaranteed) to give me more leeway with my own property, but want to tell me what I should and should not think.

    Tell me, then. Why should I vote for either party?
  • The Trap (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:22PM (#5259422)
    One aspect of the current erosion of our freedom is that it is unprovable whether it is successful. It is a classic case of success being indicated by the lack of identifiable events. Thus, the greater our loss of liberties and rights, the more statements we get from our "leaders" that these measures have been successful, and then we loose more rights. If, after all of these measures an actually terrorist event should occur, the argument will be that its because we have not passed strong enough anti-terrorism legistation and the pace of oppression will simply accelerate.

    So, we are left with a feedback system that will only accelerate over time.

    The terrorists have won... our way of life has been damaged seemingly irrevocably.
  • by chris mazuc ( 8017 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:28PM (#5259463)
    It really bothers me the blatant disregard that our elected officals have for what once used to be a wonderful country. I understand that they are trying to do good (I hope), but they seem to have forgotten that government is supposed to be FOR the people, BY the people. The founding fathers encouraged us to distrust the government which is exactly why it was given limited powers to work within. By allowing bills like this pass into law we as citizens are showing a criminal amount of disregard for the future of this nation. Your citizenship is not a free ride, with it comes responsibilities as well as privelidges and rights. Nobody likes what is happening, but nobody seems to be doing anything more than just bitch. Let's quit our bitching and finally do something about it!
  • Re:Hail Bush! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:37PM (#5259533)
    I wrote a short piece comparing Bush to Hitler a little while back:

    http://www.furinkan.net/display.php?pageid=119 [furinkan.net]
  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:37PM (#5259539)
    I've always tended to be rather left-leaning, and during the '90s I heard the constant tirades from the fringe-right about the coming abuses of power from the U.S government.

    My typical reaction was one of amusement and sadness that people had actuallly convinced themselves that such things could and more importantly, *would* happen. Especially in the short time-frame predicted.

    I stopped liking Clinton years before he left office (Democratic Party != Left Wing, Bill Clinton != Ethical Man), yet I did not partake in the growing hobby of "List evil things the Clinton Administration will do next year".

    Clinton left office, and a man touted as being responsible and ethical moved into the White House.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    The push to circumvent the very spirit of our Constitution has been constant since 9/11. Though, I don't think a Democrat would have done any better - they have become a spinless party unable to even find a platform. Don't bother calling them Left Wing - that is so 40 years ago. They don't even know what they stand for and are unwilling to fight anything the Bush administration proposes. They have become the CNN of poltics. The people that just agree with whomever is in power 99.999% of the time. They could have done something, they could have tried to change the course of events, before the post-9/11 legislative momentum built up to the point it is at now.

    But they did nothing.

    And now they still do......nothing.

    The fringe-right is silent. Their nightmares are coming true, but instead of doing anything about it, they are continuing to talk about what has already occured as if it is still in the future, while they throw their support behind Bush.

    The far-left is too caught up in the legacy of the past 40 years to pay attention to anything that is happening today. Instead of uniting to fight the efforts of the Bush administration, they are leaving that to a brave few, while they remain largely fractured and busy with far too many issues to even make a dent. It's embarassing when I'm associated with these people. The left, while idealistic, has become unable to *do* anything with those ideals. Many of their beleifs could change things for the better, and are compatible with even Libertarian philosiphy, but as a movement - a political and social force - they are now a joke.

    Too bad we could reallly use ther help right now.
  • Re:Patriot? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Almost-Retired ( 637760 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:00PM (#5259753) Homepage
    Well, I guess you'd have to call me a patriot then. Unlike our canadien brethern who have already lost their rights to own and use, even for sporting purposes, a gun, we here in the states still have the second amendment and even John Ashcroft agrees with our assessment of its language.

    Except for a few federal things regarding machine guns capable of continuous fire, regulation is pretty well left to the individual states, many of which have passed "must issue" legislation binding the local law enforcement agencies so that they must issue a concealed carry *unless* the applicant is a known felon.

    Large numbers of us have that little slip of paper in our billfolds today, and exersize that right.

    So in essense, even if the ballot box is incapable of stopping the slaves of mickey mouse, we still have, if push comes to shove, the ultimate right to vote. The voting process just gets a little noisier in that case.
  • by krist0 ( 313699 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:16PM (#5259843) Homepage Journal
    amen. Even over here in europe, conservatitive=nazi nationalists.

    When the germans had their election, you had two choices, the christian conservatives who where pushing for less imigration (even though in germany the over 65 portion of the country is at about 30%+....very smart) and school spending cuts (if i remember correctly)....so, keep the smart people out and breed em dumb (shades of america???)....luckily, they JUST lost...but still....JUST!...whats up with people? I think this whole terrorism thing has made people want to fold up into balls, build a fort out of their sofa cushions and hide....anyone who is not from "these parts" is evil, dirty alien...


    ah well, could be worse, could be raining
  • Re:Scares me... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:19PM (#5259866)
    Actually they'll most likely past it soon. Notice that the original USA PATRIOT ACT was passed following the aftermath of 9/11 when the population was still scared and in shock. Now the government has elevated the 'threat level' to the second highest, getting the population nervous and afraid much like before. This sets up an environment suitable for the government to pass whatever legislation they may need, since (a large number) of the people won't oppose it based on the belief that it is for their protection. To add fuel to the fire, I would not be surprised if there's going to be some kind of terror attack against the US that the government knows of already, for such a thing would give them even more support for their cause.

    Pretty simple really.
  • by caveat ( 26803 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:19PM (#5259867)
    The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

    And Ashcroft and Bush, and Republicans in general, are HUGELY pro-gun. So maybe we should try and either sway their views, or work in some other political framework that respects the 2nd Amendment (Libertarianism, anybody?), instead of handing over that fundamental power of the individual, trusting in them to do the Right Thing.

    [side note, TJ also said "Firearms are the American yeoman's liberty teeth"]
  • Re:no difference (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dbrutus ( 71639 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:48PM (#5259984) Homepage
    After 8 years of Clinton/Gore we were getting all too close to having armed resistance movements out west. Within a month of the Bush administration arriving and telling the Interior department to cut it out, the threats against govt. agents virtually ceased.

    You're right, I do see a differentce between Bush and Gore. Bush saved us from the start of a low grade civil war.

    That's not to say that civil liberties aren't under threat from this administration. Certainly several of the provisions in this draft are clearly unconstitutional and others need to have sunset provisions put in for after the war.

    The problem is that neither major political party wants to touch the real cause of this war, intra-muslim religious repression. If a muslim scholar wants to get Islam out of the box it's in and issues some heterodox opinions, his life is immediately threatened and extremists regularly make attempts to kill islamic reformers.

    Until the US and the rest of the West make it clear to the violence prone faction of Islam that this is simply not going to be tolerated and they will find no safe haven from which to do it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2003 @03:49PM (#5259989)
    Whenever some of my non-American friends ask me how Americans can stand to vote for Democrats OR Republicans, I simply explain it like this:

    "For most Americans the only other choice is not to vote or to vote Libertarian"

    Then they say "That certainly explains it. I didn't realize that things could be even worse."

    Libertarian isn't better just on the merit of it being a third choice. Look at the policies these nutcases want and you'll see why they'll never make it big.
  • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @04:26PM (#5260165) Journal

    I fully admit that I'm the typical slashdotter who writes big, long diatribes about things I feel passionately about and then promtly return to my daily life without having done something actually useful. But this Patriot Act II is starting to get me so scared/angry that I may actually do the unthinkable and hand-write a letter to my congresspeople (whoever they are). Paine is correct that lazy people such as myself really have been slacking off lately. The original Patriot Act was already stunning in its Orwellian nature but passed so easily that the government is trying to get another, even more powerful version passed! Good fucking lord! I think it's really high time that a sizeable number of us start writing to our congress people and plead for some rationality here. Now, I'm really busy these days. In fact, I'm working today on a Saturday and expect to work every day from now until mid-March. But this is something important enough that I think I'd better take the two hours required to pen a thoughtful and well-written letter to my representatives that will hopefully get them to see the light.

    Please consider joining me in putting your life on hold for a few hours and take an action on this. This Patriot Act crap is really getting out of hand.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2003 @04:41PM (#5260222)
    MOYERS: Chuck Lewis, whom you just saw in that piece is with me now. He is the Executive Director of the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, the organization responsible for obtaining that document. Chuck Lewis, thank you for joining us.
    LEWIS: Thank you.

    MOYERS: The Patriot Act was passed six weeks after 9/11. We know now that it greatly changed the balance between liberty and security in this nation's framework. What do you think -- what's the significance of this new document, called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003?

    LEWIS: I think the significance is it just deepens and broadens, further extends the first Patriot Act. That act in 2001, they had six weeks, which was not a lot of time to throw something together. Now there's been 18 months of all kinds of things that have happened and court decisions that have tried to roll back some of the Patriot Act.

    And other concerns, law enforcement, people have, and so they've had time to sift and sort what they want. And it's arguably might be a more thorough rendering of all the things law enforcement and intelligence agencies would like to have in a perfect world. It's sort of how I look at it, and I think it's a very tough document when it comes to secrecy and surveillance.

    I understand the concerns about fear of terrorism. And it certainly...

    MOYERS: We all have those...

    LEWIS: We all have those and there are things in the legislation that make sense, and that are reasonable, I think for any American. But there are other things that really take some of the Patriot Act civil liberties issues that folks were concerned about and go even further. And I think it's gonna be very controversial. Some of these sections are gonna be debated for weeks and months.

    MOYERS: So many of these powers latent in this draft legislation were powers that were taken away from the intelligence community some years ago because they were abused.

    LEWIS: That's right.

    MOYERS: Do you see any protection in here against potential abuse?

    LEWIS: I don't think there's very much -- there's a lot more authority and power for government. There's less oversight and information about what government is doing. That's the headline and that's the theme. And the safeguards seem to be pretty minimal to me.

    MOYERS: I just go through here, you know? "Will give the Attorney General the unchecked power to deport any foreigner?"

    LEWIS: Right.

    MOYERS: Including lawful permanent resident aliens. It would give the government the power to keep certain arrests secret until an indictment is found never in our history have we permitted secret arrests. It would give the government power to bypass courts and grand juries in order to conduct surveillance without a judge's permission. I mean these do really further upend the balance between liberty on the one hand and security on the other.

    LEWIS: Well, they do. They reduce judicial oversight with the secret intelligence courts instead of saying the court may do this now it's the court will do this. They can have ex parte conversations where they go into the judge without anyone else around. In terms of information about detainees, not only can they detain anyone they'd like to detain, there is no public information about it.

    Journalists cannot find out the names of -- we detained over a thousand people after September 11th because we thought they might all be terrorists. Not one of them was really found with any criminal charges to be a terrorist. And we don't know the names of almost all those people, still. And so it does appear that everything that folks might be concerned about with the Patriot Act, this is times five or times ten is what I look at it. I see it very serious.

    MOYERS: You and I have had this kind of discussion often, we go back a long way together. The foundation that I serve on has been a big supporter of yours and you've been a big supporter of our journalism. If we were fighting terrorists instead of being journalists, wouldn't we want this kind of power in our hands?

    LEWIS: Well, we would, but we operate in a democracy and there's other considerations. I mean I think, you know, there's no question, if you're in law enforcement, this is gonna make it easier for you to do your job. The problem is, we have a history in our country, just in our lifetime, in the last quarter century.

    Where we've seen FBI and CIA abuses of ordinary citizens. Where mail has been opened, where homes have been broken into. Where infiltration has occurred in political groups. Informants have been used, misused. People's lives have been ruined. People have committed suicide because of the pressures brought against them by the government, by these kinds of secret intelligence agencies.

    This is not a completely crazy idea to worry about the power of the government. And it was curbed and rolled back in the '70s. And there is something obviously occurring here in the public space around the whole issue of liberty and security right now.

    And it is clearly changing and it's moving towards security. And the question for us as a people is what is the right balance. And I think my biggest personal concern is that there ought to be a debate about this. So the Patriot Act jammed through Congress in six weeks.

    There was a Congressional -- there was a Senate hearing that lasted an hour and a half, there were no questions to the Attorney General by the senators. This is too important for our country. Whatever anyone's point of view, this should be a conversation that the country should have.

    And if I'm afraid they're waiting for a war or something and then they're gonna pop this baby out and then try to jam it through.

    MOYERS: You mean that if it were not rolled out and discussed publicly until the United States has had war in Iraq, people might not pay as much attention to it as they would now.

    LEWIS: They wouldn't pay as much attention and you know, our worries and our fears are gonna be different than they are now. And there will be less of -- all these things will melt away. These are nice concerns about liberties but we'll be at war. And we'll have presidents and attorneys general and other government officials telling us things. And I just see a -- I see that it wouldn't work quite as easily for them if it comes out in the next few weeks as opposed to then.

    MOYERS: Congressman Burton, Dan Burton, of Indiana, a very conservative congressman, who is Chairman on the Committee on Government Reform. He said recently, "An iron veil is descending over the executive branch."

    Now your forte is moving information around in Washington trying to find out what's going on. Would you agree with what Congressman Burton has said here?

    LEWIS: I absolutely agree with what he's saying. I mean there have been 300 roll-backs of the Freedom of Information Act since September 11th. All over America, at the state and local level, as well as the federal government. The Attorney General sent a message to every federal employee, when in doubt, deny any Freedom of Information request.

    We have other things like presidential papers being sealed off. We have reporters trying to cover things in Afghanistan being locked in a warehouse and not able to file their stories. Even before September 11th, we had one reporter's home phone records seized by a grand jury without telling him or his news organization.

    There's a lot of things happening with information, access to information, and efforts to stop journalism that I have not seen in 20 plus years of watching Washington and journalism and government interact. And it's not just information. It's not information for information's sake. This is about health, safety, lives...

    MOYERS: What do you mean?

    LEWIS: Well, you have this whole thing in this current draft legislation that there's a worst case scenario type requirement that every company that is making hazardous or toxic materials has to make that information available to the public. So if something terrible does happen they know that it's possible that it could happen and there's some sort of assessment about it. Well now that is not gonna be required. Chemical companies will not have to tell the world about these problems.

    And they will -- the citizens in that community will not have access to that information in an easy accessible way. And that's new and that affects their life. If some problem occurs, they're unrelated to the terrorism. Something just goes wrong, they will not know anything about that in their community.

    So we're rolling back health and safety and environmental and other considerations and sensitivities that have been in our culture now for decades. Are melting away because of -- all in the name of fighting terrorism.

    MOYERS: What would be the Attorney General's justification for wanting to restrict access to information about toxic chemicals?

    LEWIS: Well, the -- I haven't heard one. But I think the rationale is that terrorists could get information about a chemical plant and its security, bad security, inadequate security and somehow then bring about a threat.

    But the problem is sunlight is the best disinfectant. If these plants have bad security or they're not being well run and they're actually unsafe it's usually exposing it and talking about it and the public being aware of it that ends up improving the plant or the facility or whatever it is.

    I actually find that that's how change occurs usually. And so the ostensible rationale is to keep it away from terrorists. But I think it's also a rationale to protect companies frankly in this instance. Well I happen to know that's been the chemical lobbyist's dream for a long time.

    A long time before 9/11. They did not want this information made available.

    LEWIS: I see a lot of opportunism here around the fear and paranoia in the wake of September 11th. And taking advantage of the insecurity that we all feel today. And that is, to me, incredibly offensive. And that's why a conversation about it, there's 40 sections in this thing. The public needs to have a sense what exactly are we getting here. There needs to be a chewing over. This should not jam through Congress. This should be out there and being -- be talked about.

    I mean the realm between public and private, between foreign and domestic, all these things have morphed into the citizen against all of this out there -- this morass of regulations and rules and intrusions. And at the same time they can come after you, get your credit card data, your library records, your Internet searching, everything. And they'll decide whether or not you're a suspect or not.

    Whether or not they like you. If you're a disfavored political group, or from the wrong ethnic background, then you might become on the radar screen of some folks that you don't know about, you can't find out about, and they can do things. They have -- this is incredible power.

    MOYERS: One of the provisions in here as I understand it is that the government could actually strip citizenship from someone if -- for example, if you were found, according to this, if you were found making what you thought was a legitimate contribution to some non profit organization.

    LEWIS: Right.

    MOYERS: Foundation. And months from then, that foundation were deemed by the government or that organization were deemed by the government to have been in some way supporting terrorists, you could lose your citizenship because of your contribution, even if you didn't know...

    LEWIS: That's right.

    MOYERS: That you were contributing to an organization like that.

    LEWIS: No, that's absolutely -- they have that power. They can also extradite all over world, even if we don't have treaties. I mean, some of the things in here are -- strain credulity for legal scholars. They're not sure, they've never seen these kinds of provisions trotted out. I mean, a lot of the question is if it does pass Congress, what would the courts do with it later.

    I mean I think there are some legitimate issues there.

    MOYERS: What do you make of this? This is the document that went from the Department of Justice with this draft legislation to certain very key people in government. Among them, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Vice President, Richard Cheney, for their comments on this obviously confidential document.

    Why the Speaker of the House and the Vice President and not the committee chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate or the appropriate committee in the House?

    LEWIS: It's a way to say you've consulted Congress to some extent by sending it to the Speaker and not really consulting Congress.

    As far as I can tell, and we have not polled every member or anything like that, but it appears that virtually no one on Capitol Hill, except for the Speaker, has seen this legislation. I'm talking about the people at the judiciary committees in the House and Senate don't have this legislation. And have even been kind of yanked around a little bit for months about whether there will even be legislation.

    MOYERS: The House Judiciary Committee actually asked the FBI a few months ago how it has used the new powers that had been given to it under the Patriot Act. And the Justice department said, "We can't tell you that information, it's classified."

    And this prompted then-Congressman then Bob Barr, from Georgia, another conservative, by the way, he said the attitude of the Justice Department seems to be that even Congress isn't entitled to know how they are using the authority that Congress gave them.

    LEWIS: It's incredible. I mean, if Congress doesn't have oversight over the Justice Department and these programs, who does? That's how it's supposed to work in our constitution and in our set up for government.

    MOYERS: That's one of your real concerns, isn't it? That there's no oversight when secrecy is this tight.

    LEWIS: Absolutely. The Congress is the people's chance to monitor the executive branch. That is the only... it is the closest branch of government to the people. The House members are up for election every two years. If the House of Representatives and the Congress in general cannot keep a watch on the executive branch and cannot be informed about their activities. There's something very serious here.

    MOYERS: Chuck, I hear people out there in the audience thinking, you know, I'm scared. We're -- this is a new ballgame, to put it trivially. War on terrorists, they came on 9/11, we keep getting reports they're coming again, who knows where it'll happen. Everybody's scared.

    You guys are living in Lotus Land, you journalists talking about this sort of thing. Because we really want the government to protect us from another World Trade Center attack on the Pentagon, which is not far from where your office is in Washington.

    LEWIS: Right.

    MOYERS: What about that?

    LEWIS: Look, I wanna be protected by the government as much as anyone.

    But actually, in some ways that's beside the point. There are also freedoms and rights and liberties that, you know, millions of Americas have fought for over 200 years to make sure that this is a special kind of country. And isn't it possible that to be secure and have liberties?

    Why give all the power and authority and have no oversight and accountability. What are the safeguards. And that's the question.

    MOYERS: When someone inside government, inside the Justice Department, presumably, gives you a confidential document marked, "Not For Distribution," The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, knowing that this administration has been cracking down on watchdogs and leaks from inside government, do you consider this person a patriot?

    LEWIS: I really do. I think it takes incredible guts to take something that bothers someone, and for whatever reason, they feel they must give it out. And they know they're gonna be polygraphed, they're gonna be questioned. There's gonna be a clampdown found, there's gonna be a witch-hunt after this occurs. They could very likely not only lose their job but-- maybe worse.

    MOYERS: Be sued by the government?

    LEWIS: Be sued by the government and otherwise ruined professionally. That is the most incredible kind of courage. And I have an incredible respect for anyone who does that.

    MOYERS: I should make this clear this is not marked "Top Secret" -- this is not a classified document. It is stamped "Confidential" but nobody is betraying the Secrets Act.

    LEWIS: Yeah, that's right, I mean, I've -- I'm glad to say that that's right.

    MOYERS: There was a story this week in Congressional Quarterly, which is a very respected non-partisan journal in Washington. It says "Pentagon's proposed changes strike some as difficult, dangerous and destabilizing." And one of the things Donald Rumsfeld wants is wavers of environmental laws so that troops can conduct more "realistic exercises."

    And then this magazine, which is non-partisan, says this is part of the administration's broad campaign to run the federal government more like a private business. And with private businesses you have more control over employees, you have more control over information. Do you see that developing as a syndrome of this administration?

    LEWIS: I think it's incredible what's happening. I see a wholesale assault on access to information in this country that has not really been seen, I have to just say it, since Richard Nixon.

    When you look at the roll-backs of freedom of information, when you look at things like meeting with energy companies with the Vice President. It's simple things though in government property with government officials getting paid by taxpayer money and it's not available to the public.

    When you see some of the things that we have talked about earlier with reporters from detainees to military actions not being able to see things. I see a lot of very aggressive behavior by government officials towards the act of getting information out and information itself. I think that we're in a very unusual situation right now. And it really worries me actually.

    MOYERS: Chuck Lewis, Center for Public Integrity, thank you very much.

    LEWIS: Thank you.

  • by diggitzz ( 615742 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ztiggid}> on Saturday February 08, 2003 @05:05PM (#5260332) Homepage
    I think he's referring to the American public's seeming complacency with this type of tyranny, so long as they can still have their petty materialistic existence.

    The most frightening part of it is that those people don't even realize that our whole society would crumble if everyone was a mindless consumer. Who will be left to develop more technology if all the children decide science is boring, and they'd rather play video games ... the all the college students decide science is worthless and major in business ... then we have to import scientists and engineers from developing countries ... who the government can "justify" keeping a close watch on (at least, the drones will believe it's justified).

    Obviously, this is the way the current setup in Washington would like things to go: the mindless American's won't notice/complain, give them more toys and sitcoms and they'll be fine. Import foreign thinkers, but keep them from voicing their thoughts under threat of being dubbed "terrorists" and deported. Since the vapid drones can't think for themselves, they'll believe it's just their government keeping them "safe".

    Seriously, thinking people are already the minority ... so let's think our way out of it, and write to our representatives -- all of them. Five letters a piece, under different names, with addresses out of the phone book ...

  • by Frymaster ( 171343 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @05:37PM (#5260471) Homepage Journal
    1. too political? the protection of the rights of a citizenry from the power of the state is nothing if not political. it can't be anything but political!

    2. if you aren't willing to defend the civil liberties of those who you disagree with (or disagree with you) then you're probably not committed to the concept in the first place. it's easy to defend the right of expression for people who say things you like. or as dr. chomsky puts it "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."

    3. state sponsorship of christmas is an explicit support for one religion by the u.s. government. "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" and so on. if you are an american citizen you should read jefferson's treatise on this issue (the letter to the danbury baptists [loc.gov]) to get the full grok on the seperation of church and state.

    personally i find it amazing that with all the high-falutin' talk about the us gov't being secular and non-discriminatory that the bible is still used in the court house and religious organizations continue to receive preferential tax treatments and other "special rights".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2003 @05:41PM (#5260493)
    Voting may already be irrelevant. [commondreams.org] Many elections are already just bread and circuses.
  • by waytoomuchcoffee ( 263275 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @05:50PM (#5260526)
    Exactly. Which is what Phil Zimmerman has been saying for years:

    "Perhaps you think your email is legitimate enough that encryption is unwarranted. If you really are a law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide, then why don't you always send your paper mail on postcards? Why not submit to drug testing on demand? Why require a warrant for police searches of your house? Are you trying to hide something? If you hide your mail inside envelopes, does that mean you must be a subversive or a drug dealer, or maybe a paranoid nut? Do law-abiding citizens have any need to encrypt their email?

    What if everyone believed that law-abiding citizens should use postcards for their mail? If a nonconformist tried to assert his privacy by using an envelope for his mail, it would draw suspicion. Perhaps the authorities would open his mail to see what he's hiding. Fortunately, we don't live in that kind of world, because everyone protects most of their mail with envelopes. So no one draws suspicion by asserting their privacy with an envelope. There's safety in numbers. Analogously, it would be nice if everyone routinely used encryption for all their email, innocent or not, so that no one drew suspicion by asserting their email privacy with encryption. Think of it as a form of solidarity."

    However, some of my friends think I am a crackpot for signing my emails; I do it for solidarity. I wish there was a bit less tech-looking way to do it. I honestly believe it's not the complexity, but appearance that is holding back most people.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @06:35PM (#5260703) Homepage Journal
    Patriotic euphoria? Fear works better.

    They, Bush/Ashcroft/etc. are trying to instigate another 9/11 to heighten fear enough that they can get through all their proposed changes.

    It's too antithetical to the guiding principles of the USA for them to get that stuff through under any normal circumstances. The conservatives would desert them on Constitution issues and executive powers issues (maybe Bill Of Rights issues, but the executive powers issues are what true Conservatives would balk at)

    So, they are doing everything they can to BAIT further terrorist attacks. Flatten Iraq, because it isn't useful for producing an immediate attack, but bait North Korea and anger them without intimidating them directly, in hopes THEY will launch some sort of attack that can be used for political purposes. Insult and scorn the UN and associated bodies in hopes that this will produce people who are so convinced the US is out of control that they'll launch some sort of attack- which can be used for political purposes.

    It's not about regime change in Iraq at all. It's about regime change here. The regime being replaced is Congress, the judiciary, etc... the only way to do that is to get somebody to attack the US enough that the citizenry are reduced to a state of cowering fear and will do anything they are told.

    Like I said, fear is a lot more effective than patriotic euphoria. That's just power politics...

  • by eniu!uine ( 317250 ) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @10:26PM (#5261843)
    Most slashdotters seem to oppose the patriot act, and if you already oppose it, by all means stop reading this post.

    If you feel that the patriot act is a step in the right direction you should consider the specific powers that the law grants to law enforcement. Imagine that you are of chinese descent. Now, imagine that the new terrorist scene is in china and involves some sort of democratic movement or another. The US is on the lookout for chinese terrorists because they recently bombed a couple buildings in Utah. You have been e-mailing your cousin in shanghai just to keep up on things, but you use encryption to do it because you're concerned with your privacy. The government knows you e-mail someone in china because they are unrestricted in monitoring your e-mail. They aren't sure if you're a terrorist, so they go ahead and tap your phone lines and your internet connection(which they've already been monitoring). While they're at it they screen your whole family(BTW you work at your dad's chinese restaurant). The find out your aunt is illegal(mental note, deport).. they also make sure the IRS audits your dad's restaurant, just in case you are laundering money for terrorists. No evidence of terrorism, but they're missing some receipts, so it costs your dad a couple grand in fines. They haven't found anything on you yet, except that you downloaded a bunch of movies and stripped them of encryption.. violation of federal law here, but they aren't going to prosecute yet because it's too small time for them to worry about. So far you don't even know you're being investigated. Just when they're about to give up your little brother downloads the terrorist cookbook. Just what they wanted.. bang, they search your house(no warrant needed). They don't find any bombs, but they do find a lot of stuff they say could be used for making bombs. They also find a ton of pirated software and an eighth of pot that isn't even yours(girlfriend). They don't think they can nail you on the pot because it's unrelated to terrorism(until the next freedom patch), but they are holding you without bail and not allowing you a phone call. You're so scared you tell them who's pot it is(she's searched and arrested because they have probable cause now). They hold you for several days during which time your family is told nothing but 'don't attempt to flee'. Eventually you are let loose because they don't have anything on you, but now everyone at your school thinks you're a criminal and they won't let you in the computer lab anymore.

    That's just a small annoyance compared to what could really happen... and just because it hasn't happened to us yet, don't think it won't. Wouldn't you feel more comfortable if it couldn't happen?

  • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkon@nosPaM.gmail.com> on Saturday February 08, 2003 @11:28PM (#5262092)
    Yes this is bad. Is it law yet? NO! Will it be passed? I don't know. Knowing about it now does help. Labeling Bush as bad isn't fair. Things are different now. When things are like the are now (Orage alert and all) things should be tight. When things relax a bit, things change. My last flight I made last month they did not do any random searches at the gate. I personally am among the few that don't necessarily feel safer because of the additional security. Over all I approve of Bush's actions. BUSH'S actions, not that of our congressmen. I don't think that Ashcroft is fully to blame here either. All we can do now is our duty as citizens. Contact your congressmen. Let them know we don't like the proposed bill. Things change becuase we don't do OUR duty. We can't fully blame the president and congress because the ones who are being heard are the ones that are FOR this type of BS and they are just giving their constituents what they want. If enough people say hey this is going too far, well, then things will change. If we sit on our hands and do nothing, well, we deserve what we get. Again, I would like to see the relevant laws regarding non citzens. I believe the constituion protects CITIZENS and not those form other countries. We SHOULD be suspicious of those from suspect countries. These people do not have as many rights as we do and are treated accordingly.
  • Conspiracy 2.0 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theolein ( 316044 ) on Sunday February 09, 2003 @06:13AM (#5263359) Journal
    I find it so strange that Bush and co. have come this far. I remember after the 9/11 thing some frenchman publishing a book disputing the terrorists origions. He was ridiculed across the globe.

    Now I wonder how wrong he actually was.

    Some things that continue to make me wonder:

    1.The only recorded biowarfare attack on Americans were the Anthrax letter attacks shortly after 9/11 in the US in which 5 died and some 20 people became ill. Even though there was the whole might of the FBI behind this no perpetrator has ever been found. It seemed during the investigation that some US scientist , Dr. Stephan Hatfield, who had been working at Fort Detrick in Maryland, was the chief suspect. Nothing ever came of that. The investigation was, as claimed by the FBI, blocked by the CIA, who refused to divulge information on that laboratory. As per usual, most have forgotten this incident. What really happened there??

    2.A day or two after the 9/11 attacks a passport belonging to one of the highjackers turned up in the rubble in NYC. I still find it preposterous that a passport, made of paper, is found so quickly in a mountain of rubble from the WTC and that the investigators determined as quickly as they did who the perpetrators were, as oppposed to the investigation on the Anthrax attacks where nothing has ever happened.

    I think, what is happaning in the US now is very reminiscent of what happened in Nazi Germany prior to world war two. in 1938, I think it was, a Jew assasinated a German Diplomat in Paris. This gave the Nazis the fodder they were waiting for and it triggered the Reichs Kristalnacht in which hundreds of synagogues were burnt and mayn jews lynched. Around that time is also the time the Nazis introduced compulsory registration of all jews.

    I think you have a particularly corrupt government that is laying the foundation for an authoritarian empire building government. I am very worried that the fallout from the coming war in Iraq will trigger world war three, in whatever form it happens. The North Koreans seem to think that their backs are against the wall and might very well take every one with them they can if they feel they have no way out. India and Pakistan may well go to war as a result of all of this and I don't expect China to sit idly as it all goes to hell.

    May God help us all.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.