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Justice Department Proud of Patriot Act Slippery Slope 1108

frank_adrian314159 writes "Yahoo News is reporting that the DoJ has been using its increased powers under the US PATRIOT Act to pursue common criminals. DoJ Officials have been holding seminars on how to use increased wiretap powers against (non-terrorist) money launderers and drug dealers. One example in the article is the guy running a meth lab who's now up for a life sentence for 'manufacturing chemical weapons' instead of the much shorter sentence he would have been facing under the current drug laws. Wonderful, huh? Who didn't see this coming? Of course, you're a law-abiding citizen, so you have nothing to worry about, right?" Patriot Act II will allow any Federal agent to demand records from anyone who interacts with you, with no judicial oversight whatsoever.
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Justice Department Proud of Patriot Act Slippery Slope

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:26PM (#6958748)
    ...Federal Government Overlords....

    Oh wait, we've had them since 1776. DOH!!
    • by weaponx71 ( 524109 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:22PM (#6959212)
      No.. youve had them roughly since 1931.
      Its called a Social Security number.
      You have just been branded for the Feds meat coral.

      Reclaim your US Nationalism title and live as United States Americans were suppose to live.

      And does anyone else see the IRS as another "King" that we should revolt against?

      I am sure most will completly disagree with all of this, but before you do, just do some research.

      One thing you should be worried about is the fact that the Federal Reserve Bank is a privately owned bank.. hmmm my constitution says thats a big no no...

      go ahead.. look it up..
      have fun earning you freedom.

      http://familyguardian.tzo.com/Subjects/Taxes/tax es .htm
      • by fenix down ( 206580 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @08:21PM (#6960057)
        Ah, but you miss the sexy, sexy point about the Federal Reserve. It's not privately owned, it's a corporation, which up until the mid-19th century, were chartered organizations created by a government to perform a strictly limited function that was necessary for the public good. There wasn't any point in forming a federal agency to run a bank back then, since the government was still allowed to regulate anti-capitalist collusions like corporations.

        Instead of appointing an "Electrical Engineering Czar", they used to offer a charter to some investors so they could start a university. Instead of Social Security, they would've offered a charter to some insurance guys to start a retirement fund that was controlled enough to ensure that it wouldn't collapse and the guys wouldn't steal the cash and run to Mexico.

        Ah, back in the day we just contracted out for what we needed. If we wanted to find out how bad the air was at the WTC, we'd call up NYU and have them write up a report. But I'm sure that'd never work.
    • by MrBlue VT ( 245806 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:29PM (#6959248) Homepage
      I propose a name change. How about instead of Justice Department, we call it the Ministry of Love?
  • by kitzilla ( 266382 ) <.paperfrog. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:27PM (#6958754) Homepage Journal
    ...and take it into the voting booth in November, 2004.
    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:00PM (#6959042)
      Wouldn't it be easier to just remember not to vote for anybody with a "D" or an "R" next to their name?
      • by halo8 ( 445515 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:19PM (#6959197)
        an open Question to american voters (like in CA or FL)

        will you be voting for Nader and the green party in 2004? (or whoever isnt a "D" or "R"

        or will you be voting for the lesser of thoes two evils this time around?
        • It depends on where my state is. If my state is overwhelmingly for either side, I will give my vote to whoever the Green Party chooses to nominate. If my state is close, I must do whatever possible to keep W from getting a second term.

          And if Dean or Kucinich is the Democrat's nominee, I wouldn't consider either the lesser of two evils. (But if it's Kucinich, he'll most likely win my state--his home state--with an large majority, so I'll vote Green.)
          • by OmnipotentEntity ( 702752 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:46PM (#6959354) Homepage
            The thing is, everyone's mind set is "I'm going to keep that guyA out of office by voting for guyB." Or visa versa.
            So, the small parties aren't voted for, because no one thinks anyone's going to vote for them.
            In this nation people no longer vote for who they want. They vote against who they don't want.
            And THAT is the true enemy of democracy.

            • by DeltaSigma ( 583342 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @07:04PM (#6959519) Journal
              I completely agree with you. I've always voted for the exact person I wanted in office. Until now that is. This time I'm going into this with both eyes open. I'm doing everything I can to get Dean into office. Sure, he's not everything I want, but he's a hell of a lot closer than Bush is. It's too difficult to get a sharp change in politics. That's why I'm going Dean, he'll end this neocon tangent with a nice curve towards the prevailing of civil liberties. When his term is up, perhaps I can worry about making my anti-bipartisan ideas known again...
            • by Nucleon500 ( 628631 ) <tcfelker@example.com> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @09:13PM (#6960382) Homepage
              I think it would be very interesting if instant runoff voting was established for presidential candidates. Since your vote also includes your second, third, etc. choices, you don't have to worry about wasting your vote. It might make the political landscape much more interesting. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening anytime soon.
    • At least you get a vote. I live in a country that just follows the US like a lost puppy and adopts their policies blindly.

      Anyway, you shouldn't be so surprised by these turn of events. The practical definition of a terrorist to the current US government is "anyone who disagrees with us".
    • Ummm ..... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by riptalon ( 595997 )

      Who are you going to vote for? I don't remember many Democrats being opposed to the USA PATRIOT Act when it was voted on. I think you will be hard pressed to find anyone to vote for who wants it repealed. The only time the "democractic" process will actually deliver change is where you can find some very rich people who are affected by a particular issue. In this case I think you are out of luck. Laws like this are ment for ordinary people only.

    • by darkwiz ( 114416 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:27PM (#6959235)
      ...and take it into the voting booth in November, 2004.

      Agreed. And remember, Congress voted [house.gov] 357-66 in the house, and 98-1 in the senate. Which means, despite the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates - at least 69% of Democratic representatives (and 96% of Democratic senators) voted for it as well. So be sure to print off this sheet [lifeandliberty.gov] as well (pre-emptive google cache: here) []

      Give all these assholes the boot: vote against the incumbent!
  • I Understand Now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jlaxson ( 580785 ) * <(jlaxson) (at) (mac.com)> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:28PM (#6958759) Journal
    Prosecutor Jerry Wilson says he isn't abusing the law, which defines chemical weapons of mass destruction as "any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury" and contains toxic chemicals.

    If I chug enough gasoline, I'll die. Let's put the Oil companies away for 12 years to life! For that matter, drink some bad water from a lake and you'll die. Put the Big Bang away for 12 - life!
  • Great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by secondsun ( 195377 ) <secondsun@gmail.com> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:28PM (#6958760) Journal
    When did a campaign of "Compassionate Conservatism" become synonomous with "slightly to the left of Darth Vader"?
    • Re:Great (Score:5, Funny)

      by Unregistered ( 584479 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:33PM (#6958813)
      What's so bad abut Vadar?
    • Re:Great (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Felinoid ( 16872 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:45PM (#6958914) Homepage Journal
      Before 9-11 I was a conservitive.
      After 9-11 I'm a radical libral...

      And my opinions haven't changed.
    • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by God! Awful 2 ( 631283 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:55PM (#6958995) Journal

      When did a campaign of "Compassionate Conservatism" become synonomous with "slightly to the left of Darth Vader"?

      Bush's entire campaign was a disconnect between hype and reality. "Compassionate Conservatism" was a campaign slogan that sounded good, but Bush never made a real attempt to back it up. (How is a guy who sets a new record with the electric chair a compassionate conservative?) It was fun to watch Bill Maher ridicule the Republican parakeets like Tom Stoppard and Ann Coulter who repeated this tripe on his show.

    • Look, none of the *important* promises Bush made during the Last Election were for *you*, and he's paid off on most of the ones to his friends in the military-industrial complex.

      "Compassionate Conservatism" become synonomous with "slightly to the left of Darth Vader" on 9/11/1, when Bush could get away with his normal political positions instead of having to pretend to be compassionate.

    • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:14PM (#6959149)
      Yeah yeah, blame it all on the White House.... I am Bush, the great and powerful! Ignore the 535 members of Congress behind the curtain!

      Let us not forget that 530+ members of congress voted in favor of the USA PATRIOT Act. And some of these very same members of Congress are now also all over our televisions with the Democratic primary debates and what-not. Heck, IIRC the only Democrat candidates that didn't vote in favor of USA PATRIOT were the ones like Dean and Sharpton who just happened not to be members of Congress at the time.

      I find it darkly humorous that some of the very same members of Congress that are decrying the current situation in Iraq are the ones that voted "Uh... I dunno, what do you wanna do?" instead of, say, voting to declare/not declare war. They could have spelled out exactly what the president could and could not do in Iraq and exactly what the goals were, but that would have required Congress to have, y'know, a spine. Taking responsibility and all that.

      If they're so unwilling to exercise their rights and duties as members of Congress, why are we supposed to believe that they'll be any different in the White House?

      November of next year, do yourselves, your country, and your species a favor and don't vote for either major party. They've both shown themselves to be derelict in their duties as public servants.
  • by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 ) * <mister,sketch&gmail,com> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:29PM (#6958767)
    After all their definition of a chemical weapon of mass destruction is:

    Prosecutor Jerry Wilson says he isn't abusing the law, which defines chemical weapons of mass destruction as "any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury" and contains toxic chemicals.

    So why don't they go after the tobacco companies since they're manufacturing substances that meet these criteria? Oh wait, the government gets taxes from the sales of these products, nevermind.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:41PM (#6958875) Homepage
      ...is there any substance not lethal in high enough doses? Btw, the "contains toxic chemicals" part merely restates the first part - the very definition of toxic is what is harmful to people.

      I imagine even water is outlawed under this law, after all you can drown from it. Polluted water at least. Nevermind air, which is definately lethal if injected into the bloodstream.
    • by melted ( 227442 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:57PM (#6959014) Homepage
      It is a known fact that one full cup of regular table salt is a lethal dose. And those terrorists at Morton crank out hundreds of tons of this "weapon" every year.

      Sue them!
  • Chemical WMDs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:29PM (#6958769) Journal
    If a chemical weapon is "any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury" then where does that leave manufacturers of (for example) petrol. That can cause death or serious injury, but I don't see the government throwing them down for life...

    Yay for double standards o_0
    • Can they book the guys that fart in the car on a rainy day so you can't open the windows?
    • Re:Chemical WMDs (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eyeye ( 653962 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:38PM (#6958853) Homepage Journal
      Double standards? Doesnt the US military give its soldiers Methampetamine?

      • No. I believe they give their guys dexidrine or dextrastat(probably misspelled). It is a form of speed and methamphetamine is on of its ancestors, but it is much cleaner, less addictive and taken as a pill.

        Most meth people make today is based on the so-called nazi recipe and is much harsher. However when you get down to it speed is speed.

        Oh, and dexies can also be prescribed to adults with ADD or in some cases of obesiety. Which is how people usually get them.

        • Re:Chemical WMDs (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          It's spelled dexedrine and dextrostat, respectively, and it is dextroamphetamine (called dexamphetamine everywhere outside the US), which makes it a part of the amphetamine family of drugs, to which methamphetamine belongs.

          And there is nothing inherently "unclean" about methamphetamine. It's just that your basement meth-lab isn't nearly as careful nor as accurate as a pharmaceutical company would be. Prescription-quality methamphetamine (i.e. Desoxyn) is just as "clean" as you would expect any other drug
  • by $hecky ( 445344 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:29PM (#6958771)
    I, for one, welcome our new Republican over--

    Wait a second. No I don't.

  • by maomoondog ( 198438 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:30PM (#6958774)
    John Ashcroft has been touring [chicagosuntimes.com] to gain popular support for Patriot Act II. Nevermind that his speeches are invitation-only, to "safe" crowds of police officers in order to avoid inevitable protests... is anyone else creeped out that the executive branch has so many characters making such public efforts at lawmaking rather than just the execution of law?
    • Didja see this? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrpuffypants ( 444598 ) * <mrpuffypants AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:48PM (#6958942)
      Crowd plays the "Imperial March" from Star Wars as Ashcroft enters building: story [dailytrojan.com]

      And while I can't find it there was also, at a Patriot Act "whoo-ha!" rally, a protestor that directly addressed Ashcroft and said "You're fired" and told him that what he was doing was wrong. You didn't see any of that in the liberal media, however...

      • Re:Didja see this? (Score:3, Informative)

        by RickHunter ( 103108 )

        That story's great! The Imperial Death March was a particularly nice, if not-so-subtle, touch.

        Its especially interesting how the lower levels of government, even ones as large as Boston, have been actively working against things like the Patriot Act. Aren't there a couple dozen towns and cities now that've passed laws requiring their law enforcement officers to do the minimum necessary in response to any "PATRIOT"-related requests?

        • As of today, 14Sep2003, the ACLU list 162 communities that have made resolutions (or, in a few cases, binding ordinances) against the USA PATRIOT Act. See their list here [aclu.org].
        • Re:Didja see this? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          "Three states--Hawaii, Alaska and Vermont--and 112 cities, towns and counties have passed resolutions condemning the Patriot Act on grounds it gives the federal government too much snooping power. Some have refused to enforce it."

          Quoted from Patriot Rebellion Keeps Growing [americanfreepress.net].
    • by kaltkalt ( 620110 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:56PM (#6959002)
      Their logic is: "We don't want to tie the hands of prosecutors behind their backs," said Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman, "and it's our responsibility when we find weaknesses in the law to make suggestions to Congress on how to fix them."

      So constitutional protections are now marketed as "weaknesses" which need to be fixed. That whole 4th amendment thing is just a big loophole for criminals and evildoers who want to kill us because they hate our freedoms.
  • by Whammy666 ( 589169 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:30PM (#6958782) Homepage
    Isn't that what people used to say. Well guess what. It is happening here. Right now before your very eyes. Remember that when 2004 rolls around and be sure to thank Dumbya and his minions by sending them packing.

    1984 was never meant to be a how-to guide.
  • Land of the free ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IanBevan ( 213109 ) * on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:33PM (#6958808) Homepage
    Are you guys in the 'States going to have to change your country's description ? Land of the free ? I think not. It seems to me that if you stay on the right side of the law, you *may* be OK, but stray, even a little, and the state can use ridiculously arcane and morally almost indefensible laws to serve 'justice'. In most cases, it seems to me that these laws are to protect (1) companies, and (2) the state itself. Perhaps one of the problems is that the distinction between these two entities is becoming grey ?

    It seems odd to me that in one of the great democracies, individual freedoms and rights are becoming more and more compromised. The real concern for me is that American culture permeates just about every Western culture. Does this mean that the American legislative way will soon arrive here in New Zealand ? I hope not - but it's interesting to see that Australia seems to be using the USA as a role model recently.

    • by God! Awful 2 ( 631283 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:01PM (#6959052) Journal

      Are you guys in the 'States going to have to change your country's description ? Land of the free ?

      Keep in mind that the US named themselves "the land of the free" back when slavery and apartheid were in full force, and that they have consistently lagged almost every other Westernized country in granting equal rights.

  • by CausticWindow ( 632215 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:33PM (#6958814)

    Finally the US government has unveiled some dangerous chemical WMD.

    Too bad it's produced in the US, by a US citizen and for recreational purposes.

    Go USA.

  • by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:33PM (#6958816) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, many people didn't see this coming, and I just can't understand why. History has repeatedly shown that when any authority is given powers it WILL use them whenever it feels, and it WILL eventually abuse them.

    It's similar to the recent case un England [bbc.co.uk] where demonstrators at an arms fair were detained using anti-terrorism measures.

    I find it ironic that people demonstrating against the sale of weapons, some of the same kind used by terrorists are then arrested using laws designed to reduce terrorism.
    • In short: no government system should be built on trust. There have been those screaming about this for decades as each new threat hype brought with it the 'tools' to maintain public order. Bush and Clinton are interchangeable in this regard, the latter's War on Drugs did much damage and was debated fiercely on this forum. Can the process be reversed so late in the day?
  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:35PM (#6958827)
    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    -Benjamin Franklin

    If the federal government persists in the behaviours that it has been engaging in lately, all that they'll do is force people who care to either leave the U.S., or to engage in rebellion.

    I hope that the courts start thinking with some sanity, and dismiss entirely charges against people, despite their illegal acts, because of the treatment that they're receiving at the hands of law enforcement officials in charges and the like. If someone is doing something illegal, like manufacturing an illicit substance whose creation process is relatively dangerous, they deserve the trouble that they'd get, but they do no deserve to be branded "Terrorist". The DA or police who came up with the charge deserve to be sued for libel.
  • Ebay (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lord_paladine ( 568885 ) <wdnm91q02@sneakemail.com> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:36PM (#6958835)
    Heck, even Ebay [com.com] (via PayPal) has been charged with violating the Patriot Act. Are we only seeing the beginnings of this kind of abuse, or will someone with deep pockets step up to the plate?

    Also of note, here is the full write-up of the wire tap law from Cornell [cornell.edu]
  • Rhetoric.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by MrPerfekt ( 414248 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:41PM (#6958872) Homepage Journal
    This is the point where people spew out "If you don't like it, leave!" in a standing tall, patriotic stance.

    I do believe this is the final straw for myself. I will be permanently leaving the country as soon as financially possible.

    It would incredibly interesting if the emmigration rate soared in the next few years from the US. I guess we'll wait and see.
  • by kaltkalt ( 620110 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:41PM (#6958876)
    I saw him on FoxNews with Tony Snow last week (safe haven for him, no tough questions). He was saying how little the patriot act does and how "we still need judges to sign all these warrants, it's not like we do anything on a whim." His basic spiel was "oh come on, it's nothing! Really, we would never use it in a bad way, trust us! We love jesus! Praise!"

    We can only hope 4 year terms run in the bush family. And I voted for dubya.
  • 6 months?!? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ThesQuid ( 86789 ) <a987@mac . c om> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:42PM (#6958890) Journal
    Quote from the article:
    A North Carolina county prosecutor charged a man accused of running a methamphetamine lab with breaking a new state law barring the manufacture of chemical weapons. If convicted, Martin Dwayne Miller could get 12 years to life in prison for a crime that usually brings about six months.

    Six months?!?!?? I think the drug laws are kinda whacked, but do you blame a prosecutor from trying to get a stronger sentence any way he can? The guy was manufacturing meth, fer gawd's sake. Not like he was smoking a doob or doing an occasional line.
    • Re:6 months?!? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @09:13PM (#6960386) Journal
      Six months?!?!?? I think the drug laws are kinda whacked, but do you blame a prosecutor from trying to get a stronger sentence any way he can? The guy was manufacturing meth, fer gawd's sake. Not like he was smoking a doob or doing an occasional line.

      From the Federal Bureau of Prisons [bop.gov] (PDF, 4.8 MB [bop.gov]), median sentences in months for various classes of offenses.

      207. Continuing criminal enterprise

      135. Homicide, aggravated assault, kidnapping

      121. Robbery (use of violence or the threat of violence to deprive another of property)

      92. Sex offenses

      85. Drug offenses

      76. Weapons, explosives, arson

      67. Burglary, larceny, property offenses

      51. National security

      38. Immigration

      30. Courts or corrections

      27. Extortion, fraud, bribery

      19. Banking and insurance, counterfeit, embezzlement offenses

      Noting that these figures are for federal prisons only (YMMV locally), it seems to suggest that drug offenses are usually punished relatively harshly. If the guy was running a meth lab, and the prosecution actually had a strong case, he would face a significant prison sentence. Possession of 5 grams (about a sixth of an ounce) of methamphetamine carries a federally mandated minimum five-year prison sentence--if it is his first offense. Quite frankly, any prosecutor that has to resort to "weapons of mass destruction" claims to incarcerate a guy running a meth lab for a significant period of time is either lazy or incompetent.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:43PM (#6958900)
    This is very much like how the Soviet's used to do it. If one read the Soviet era constitution, citizens in theory were told they had all sorts or rights and freedoms, including to due process, and that these could only be violated for the most heneous of crimes, such as treason. On the other hand, the Soviet treason laws were written so that anyone could be easily and effectivily charged under them :).

    Today, in America, we now say due process and freedom is to be enjoyed by all, except those potential or suspected terrorists. Again, the problem is that our terrorist laws being so written that anyone may be charged under them.

    And we now have our very own gulogs to boot. What a fitting description for both Guantanimo bay, and for the military brigg in Virginia where several actual American citizens have been held for close to a year now without any rights whatsoever.

  • by ian stevens ( 5465 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:50PM (#6958951) Homepage

    From the article:

    Prosecutor Jerry Wilson says he isn't abusing the law, which defines chemical weapons of mass destruction as "any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury" and contains toxic chemicals.

    This legislation allows us to go after the real criminals, namely the tobacco companies, and their weapons of mass destruction. It would be easy to argue that cigarettes fall under this loose definition. If a successful case were built against the tobacco companies, their executives would serve time in prison. Even if there wasn't a conviction, the case would bring to light the vague definitions proponents of the Patriot Act use to abuse its power. Tobacco companies may think twice about financing a president which pushes for legislation which could be used to convict them of serious offences against the state.

  • America.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mastadex ( 576985 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @05:53PM (#6958971)
    Home of the Not So Free....
  • by jbs0902 ( 566885 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:04PM (#6959069)
    One example in the article is the guy running a meth lab

    1) I fail to have any sympathy for a guy who runs a meth lab.

    2) The sad fact is, Patriot Act or no, in the US and most "civilized" countries there are so many laws that the police can pick you up anytime they want for breaking the law. They just have to care enough to target you and figure out which of the gazilla laws you inadvertently broke.

    The "if you're a law abiding citizen" comment, misses the mark. There are so many laws, none of us can go through life without breaking some law. None of us are law abiding anymore, regardless of our intentions.

    Also, the sentencing is so Draconian nowadays that the penalty for fighting the arrest and losing makes a plea bargain much more attractive. Given the choice between a 20 years minimum sentence and a 2 year plea bargain, most people take the plea bargain. The 20 years just scares them too much.

    The problem isn't "those damn Republicans." Remember many Democrats voted for the Patriot Act. The problem is the political system. Rarely does a politician get elected because they voted to repeal a criminal law. Rarely does a politician get elected for being "soft on crime." Willie Horton anyone? Left or Right, you get votes by promising to protect "the public" and their children. That means you pass MORE laws, even if the existing laws are adequate, because that shows you did something. You pass TOUGHER penalties, because that shows you did something.

    That is why we end up with drunk driving laws that set the blood alcohol level at a value lower than the margin of error on the testing devices. And, when this is pointed out to the legislature they just change the margin of error on the test. Not by changing the test, but by changing the definition of margin of error. (Next up, Congress sets the acceleration due to gravity at 11m/s^2.) Because, we HAVE to be tough on drunk drivers "for the children."
    That is just one example of the stupid and unreasonable results of the "democractic" political system. I am sure you have your own examples.

    I am not supporting the Patriot Act. I wish it and the system that created it wasn't so. But, don't act like this is new. Don't act like the Patriot Act is an exception. And, don't act like the US and only one party is the US plays this horrible game. It is played by both sides, all over the world, all the time.

  • by softspokenrevolution ( 644206 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:08PM (#6959094) Journal
    Remember when Dubya said that he was a compassionate conservative who wanted to teach little kids to read, and get our manufacturing jobs back from those 'filthy' Mexicans. Remember when the man could barely speak the english language and was just a jolly little fool who did absolutely nothing besides oversee a sudden plunge in the economy and then came up with the brain dead idea that giving tax money to people who traditionally don't spend money?

    I really miss those days. When That's My Bush was on television, it was okay to question the government and even though lots of people were unemployed it was still a pretty good time.

    In case you didn't note, this is going to be a rant. Two years and three days ago, a bunch of Religious Conservatives hijacked a couple of plains and showed the US (Succesfully this time) that crazy people mean buisness. The largest terrorist attack on US soil was no longer in the hands of a crazed American, but in the hands of a bunch in another country, and thus things became scary.

    The World Trade Towers were chosen because not only did a great number of people work there, and that their destruction would be economically crippling for the area and damaging to the US, but because they were symbols of what the United States stood for.

    In reaction to these attacks Americans suddenly took up and saw that all of these freedoms which we enjoy and espouse (but don't abide by in countries where we pick up cheap goods from, like China and the Middle East {that's right, gas is cheap in America, come on Europeans, stand up tell everyone how much taxes impat your gas prices}), allow people easy access to pretty much whatever they want. Yup, apparently the fundamental principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were total anathema to the dogma of security. Benjamin Franklin pointed out that fact and the converse, that a society cannot have both freedom and absolute security.

    Esentially, 9-11 has been used to pass a Neo-Conservative agenda of global tyranny and domestic oppression. I emphasize the Neo part, because I know many conservatives, they are wonderful and nice people who have many good ideas. These people, a mixed coalition of reps and dems, are responsible for a campaign of silencing all opposition and enriching themselves and their allies upon the spoils of wars.

    It is intersting to note how someone brought up 1984 earlier, it is mentioned in that book how war or the idea of such activity is wonderful at putting large populations into subservient moods. Notice how we have gone from a War on Terror (where we didn't find Osama or even put an end to the Taliban, or stop terror), to a War on Iraq (where we didn't find Sadaam and are busy ruling it like fuedal lords and expending 150+ billion on what was supposed to be a short and sweet little engagement). The American people are being manipulated in a very base manner into thinking that anything but pure agression will get us killed, and that if we vote for anyone but this psychotic faction that we will all die in some sort of hellish confligaration of biological, nuclear and chemical weapons.

    I for one see that pretty much everything this administration has done has a negative value. They have done much to obfuscate their agenda and to make them appear to be 'compassionate' but those agendas were never pursued, the heavily pushed "No Child Left Behind act" has absolutely no funding and even if implemented it was only going to require more idiotic tests and dropping out of school. Where is the Aid to Africa? Where are the morals and where is the trust that we were promised in 2000? We have simply replaced blow-jobs and S&L scandals, for corporate patronage, more S&L scandals, financial mismanagement, and corruption. And Ari Fleischer and the rest of the crew lies to us as much as the Iraqi information minister lied to the people of Iraq.

    Next year, when the fields narrow we need to get out there and force a change or else things will start to head from bad to worse and we will see freedoms and liberties that we once took for granted picked off one by one all in the name of some kind of security that we will never attain as long as our country remains self-centered and militaristic.
  • More Paranoia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KrancHammer ( 416371 ) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .ttaMesnuG.> on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:10PM (#6959114)
    Geez.. you guys are right... It sucks that GWB is oppressing free speech and stuff. I mean, nobody can complain about the Patriot Act, Ashcroft, or the Administration without getting charged as a terrorist or getting arrested or just disappearing. I mean, there has to be hundreds of former slashdotters, indymedia types, and the like at the Death Camp in Guantanemo. My eyes have been opened to the truth. Bush and Co. are the Third Reich. Heil Ashcroft. And the media. Don't get me started about the neofascist government control of the media. Obviously, Al Franken's number one book slipped through all the government censors, but I bet they won't that happen again!

    P.S. That was sarcasm.
    P.P.S. I don't like the Patriot Act(s) either. I don't think its the end of life as we know it. Get a grip. Please. Leftists are so pathetically terrified of Bush and his administration its almost amusing. The amount of paranoia and blind hatred way surpasses the paranoia and blind hatred the right had with Clinton.
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @06:26PM (#6959231) Homepage
    Speeding is illegal. Suggest that every car should have a sensor that detects itself speeding, and automatically assesses a fine to be paid to the appropriate jurisdiction, and watch people recoil in horror.

    Underage drinking is illegal. Suggest that random door-to-door searches for alcohol be employed to enforce that particular set of laws, and watch respect for the law diminish to nothing.

    This does not mean there is not a critical purpose for GPS-based tracking devices (yes, even covertly deployed) and canvassing a region, for there certainly is. As uncomfortable as Patriot makes us, we cannot deny there are circumstances that indeed justify significantly more zealous investigation and prosecution.

    But the circumstances matter.

    To those whose powers are wide, their interest must be narrow. To those whose interests are wide , it is a matter of life and death that their powers be kept narrow. A team dedicated to the prevention of nuclear terror must not have their procedures threatened by, say, a "moral police" seeking to police adultery! Gloating about mission creep and the utter inability to keep sacred maybe the only saving grace of Patriot ("really, we just want to go after those who want to kill us all") is astonishing.

    This is a slippery slope that costs lives. I cannot believe I am hearing it praised.
  • Bush Seeks to Expand Access to Private Data [yahoo.com]. Read that article and click to rate it if you like it, at the bottom of the page, for the benefit of the casually browsing public. Here are some choice excerpts:
    "A suspected terrorist could be released, free to leave the country, or worse, before the trial," Mr. Bush said. "This disparity in the law makes no sense. If dangerous drug dealers can be held without bail in this way, Congress should allow for the same treatment for accused terrorists."

    Despite Mr. Bush's concerns, Justice Department officials said they knew of no specific instances in which a person charged in a terrorism case had fled after being granted bail.

    (snip)...Mr. Bush's proposal, he said, "means that there are no effective checks and balances. It's very worrisome."

    Civil rights lawyers, defense advocates and some former prosecutors say they see no need to broaden the Justice Department's powers so markedly. Under current law, they say, terrorism investigators can typically get a subpoena in a matter of hours or minutes by going through a judge or a grand jury.

    "[L]aw-abiding Americans have no reason to fear the long reach of the antiterrorism law known as the Patriot Act because its most intrusive measures would require a judge's sign-off."

    My own colleague Matthew writes, "This is ingenuous. While the law does require a judge to sign off on the warrant, it mandates that the judge *does* sign. In other words, the judge is required to rubber-stamp whatever the police want; it is not true oversight."

    You know how Teddy Roosevelt [historychannel.com] was so against the trusts (megacorps that were above the law and beyond mere monopoly, a la Standard Oil) because they were more powerful than the government in so many ways, hence offending his own megalomaniacal sensibilities [time.com]? Apparently, the U.S. Government today is disappointed about the fact that modern megacorps had taken on the role of Big Brother via image recognition, data mining, and monopolistic practices. In the face of such competition, they apparently feel the need to get their anti-Constitution on. Pull out the big guns!

    I'm done debating the competency of our current Presidential administration or the legitimacy of the Presidential office. In the face of this perpetually double edged sword, I just want to keep both the terrorists and the government in check.

  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @07:32PM (#6959714)
    Oh, I have a good idea for a good new law... Let's call it the Patriot Act, Part III. It'll give the government powers to track down and burn any book that contains information the government doesn't like. To save tax dollars, the government would decide that instead of going through all the books, it'll simply burn them all.

    Books would be classified in the Terrorist Penal Code as Weapons of Mass Instruction.

    It would be illegal, punishable by death by burning, to possess or traffic in any such materials banned by the government. For the convenience of the guilty, the government would offer the choice of being burned at the stake or in a huge bonfire.

    To enforce compliance, the law would allow any federal agent, or anybody claiming to be a federal agent, to enter any property, with or without permission or the use of force, to search and seize anything, to beat up, rape, arrest, or kill anyone, and to charge the party being investigated any "reasonable" fee for the aforementioned services.

    Of course, under the new law, acts of real terrorism, as in blowing things up and killing lots of people, would fall under civil code, like intellectual property laws. Thus, if you are killed in a terrorist attack, you would have to sue the terrorist in small claims court.

  • Unfortunately (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aliens ( 90441 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @07:40PM (#6959765) Homepage Journal
    You know what people are going to vote for? The guy who says 'I will tax you less', 'I will give you more money'.

    He could also want to bring back segregation and most voters wouldn't care because he's not going to take their money.

    The USA's culture has changed considerably since the 70's. Greed is now God. All anyone cares about is themselves and their possesions. Hell that's what's killing the American Family. Let's see, why do mommy and daddy work 80 hours a week each? That's right so he can afford an upper-middle class life.

    Man that's so worth it isn't it? I mean you get to have your kids driven to school by the nanny in the new Lexus. Isn't that the American Dream?

    20 years, that's how long I give this society before it collapses on itself. Civilization won't end, but you won't recognize the USA that's for sure. A lot of people aren't going to want to be part of the rat race any more.

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Sunday September 14, 2003 @10:51PM (#6960860)
    So, basically, Ashcroft and friends want to build a government where those with power can look ingo anything they want, imprision anybody they want...

    Wait a second, that's exactly what the Taliban had in Afganistan and Saddam had in Iraq. It's starting to blur the line between who's friend and foe here...

    Luckily, the legislative and executive branches can't take away all our liberties alone. The judicial branch still has the chance to strike down any law that goes too far accross the lines of the Constitutional protections. I mean, a court can still order that "the Feds" an give accused terrorist access to question another accused terrorist for evidence to be used in his defense... rule of law hasn't broken down totally around here.

    Or has it?
  • Wonderful, isn't it? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cinematique ( 167333 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @02:30AM (#6961770)
    This really goes to show how little our constitution means, 4th Amendment be damned.

    But the thing that really frightens me is this... most people are so turned off to politics that things like the Patriot Act slip under the radar. What's worse... a majority of those that actually are involved in our political system choose to be a Democrat or Republican, as if they're their only options.

    In 2004, I want G.W. Bush to get out of my government. Sadly, it'll have to be done with a Democrat, and it shouldn't be that way.

    After skimming the surface of the German government, I can't help but wonder how different America would be if several parties were in control, not just two. Any Germans care to enlighten me?
  • Solutions, please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wayward_son ( 146338 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @09:08AM (#6962988)
    All I hear on this thread is "Bush sux0rz - vote Democrat" or "Dems are just as bad - vote Libertarian/Green"

    What I want to know is if anyone has any solutions to the problems at hand?

    Democrats, what is YOUR plan to fight the war on terror? How do YOU plan to keep another 9/11 from happening? If the PATRIOT Act was so bad, then why did the majority of Democrats vote for it?

    While I'm at it, what is YOUR plan to stimulate the economy? What is YOUR plan to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Quit complaining and start coming up with solutions.

    I do see shades of 1984 in recent events. If the Democrats can't come up with anything more than complaining, Bush will beat Dean (or whoever else gets the nomination) in 2004 like Reagan crushed Mondale in 1984.

If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.