Tag Archives: PATRIOT Act

The terrorists have won.


Osama bin Laden accomplished what he set out to do even though our SEALs killed him deader than John Edwards’ political career.  He was a smart man — an asshole to be sure — but an intelligent man. I don’t think he believed flying those jets into our buildings 13 years ago today would destroy America. He knew about Pearl Harbor, so I’m certain he knew he was going to royally piss us off with his nasty sucker punch. He also knew what happened to the Empire of Japan once they pissed us off, too. He wasn’t trying to destroy our country . . . even now we are much too strong for anything approaching the end of America. So what if we go flat broke? We’ve got ten giant nuclear aircraft carriers afloat with three more being built as I write this. If ten carrier task forces can’t keep the bill collecting countries away, the 2,104 mushroom makers sleeping silently beneath the Midwestern prairie or lurking 150 fathoms down in eighteen underwater states most definitely will. Bin Laden and al-Queda brethren couldn’t destroy America so instead they did something much more sinister — they destroyed our way of life.

How many times have you heard a talking head or some radio guru say “We live in a ‘Post-9-11 World?'” What they are saying  (whether they are happy about it or not is largely a function of their politics) is we went to bed on September 11, 2001 and when we woke up on September 12, 2001, the world — and especially the United States — was a radically different place. One of the jets should have taken out the Statue of Liberty because the American patron saint “Miss Liberty” was the first casualty of what we call now The Global War on Terror.

In the days, then weeks, then months following 9-11, we reacted in typical American fashion. Fifty-four Forty or Fight! Remember the Alamo! Remember Fort Sumter! Remember Custer! Remember the Maine! Over There! Remember Pearl Harbor! Remember the Maddox! Bomb,bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb Iran! We like to fight here in America. It’s what we do when people sneak attack us . . . or not, but I digress. It’s understandable why our leaders launched immediate retribution against al-Queda. As Principal Vernon so eloquently put it to John Bender, “You mess with the bull, son, you get the horns.” Still, I agree with Dan Carlin when he says we need a law against passing laws in a time of deep emotional upheaval in our country. Unfortunately, those laws don’t exist . . . so here we are.

I try to limit my posts to around 1000 words, give or take a hundred or two, but even if I stretch out this post to double the normal size, I couldn’t get in everything our government has done to destroy our liberty in the name of keeping us “safe”, so this will have to be a skimming, but I hope when it’s all done, you’ll agree with me that America may still stand and she may be the greatest country on Earth to this day, but the same cannot be said for Lady Liberty. It has gotten so bad, I firmly believe our beloved Founding Fathers would not only be unable to recognize the country they created, but they would probably be arrested for treason or — at the absolute minimum — placed high on the domestic terrorists watch list.

“Here to protect YOU from your FREEDOMS!”

For starters, they would run afoul of The U.S. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act of 2001. In the — again, understandable — furor surrounding the 9-11 attacks, the 107th Congress handed over 225 years of work towards liberty and freedom in our country to unelected bureaucrats and government agents. The provisions of the act are nothing less than astounding. Title 1 of the act gives the FBI, CIA, and NSA a blank check to pay for DOMESTIC surveillance AND authorizes those agencies to ask for MILITARY assistance in monitoring suspicious civilians. Title 2 is one of the most odious parts of the law to anyone loving privacy and liberty. Under its provisions, government agencies — again, UNELECTED and so UNACCOUNTABLE people — can legally access your documents, tap your phone, demand your library records, and pretty much walk in your house and search it all without a court order provided you are “suspected” of being a terrorist.

Now THERE is the rub, to quote the Bard. “Suspected of being a terrorist?” First of all, who is defining what a terrorist even IS? Sure, all of us common folk think we know what a terrorist is — it’s someone like Osama bin Laden or his ilk. Terrorists are always “over there” unless they are some demented homegrown folk like Timothy McVeigh. Terrorists are obvious! Well, they are until the lawyers get involved. The Federal legal definition of terrorism includes both foreign and domestic and it runs three computer screens long at 1280×1040 resolution and the upshot of it is a terrorist is pretty much anyone someone in the government WANTS to be a terrorist. Greenpeace is a terrorist organization, for example.

The PATRIOT act and subsequent legislation has absolutely gutted the Bill of Rights, particularly the First and Fourth Amendments. In 1968, Chicago erupted in protests during the Democratic National Convention. These people gathered right outside the building housing the convention. Even today, images of Mayor Daley’s police force bludgeoning young and old, male and female alike with batons evokes a sense of the definition of police brutality. Of course, assemblies and protests like that are a relic now.

Today, if your group wanted to protest the President or some convention, you would be assigned to a “Free Speech Zone” blocks away from whomever or whatever you wanted to protest. No pictures of any beatings would surface because your protest would take place far, far away from any stray media coverage. Most likely, no one would ever know your protest occurred. Of course, the government will tell you if you protest your protesting that the whole affair was, “For your safety and protection!” Who are “we the people” supposed to be protected from?

So, the bureaucrats at the intelligence agencies and in the Department of Homeland Security don’t want us to “peacefully protest” because someone might get hurt? We can’t vote them out of office because they aren’t elected in the first place. We can’t fight them in court because any pertinent evidence we might want to introduce will quickly be redacted under the all-encompassing phrase, “for national security concerns.” Where are we headed if we can no longer “petition our government for redress of grievances” without running the risk of being labelled a terrorist? To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, if you make peaceful demonstrations impossible, you assure violent demonstrations will happen.

That’s just the First Amendment. The Fourth Amendment is an even bigger joke today. We live in a surveillance state today. Everything you do, type, create, or say on the phone is probably recorded somewhere and if you trip enough flags, it’ll get analyzed and once you get analyzed, anything can happen. If Edward Snowden’s revelations didn’t wake people up, I’m not sure what it is going to take. He produced a smoking arsenal of evidence that our government is spying on us . . . but why? Many of you may recently have switched to Facebook Messenger on your smartphones. If you have, you know of the many warnings different quarters have raised concerning potential privacy leaks. When I asked Budge if she was going to switch knowing how much information an agency could track, she said, “Why not? They already spy on us every other way.”

So, thirteen years on, Obama laughs from his watery grave at what has become of American liberty. What was once the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” is now the “Land of the Watched and the Home of the Caged.” People need not point fingers at any particular administration either. Democrats who howled about how egregiously President Bush was treating our rights have completely shut the hell up now that their man is in office. President Obama has continued, if not increased the same policies President Bush started. THAT is what people don’t understand! These laws NEVER go away! Once they are on the books, “we the people” have ceded another bit of our power over our government. We’ve given these powers to our executive, do we really think another executive is going to give them BACK?

In his speech to the American people on September 11, 2001, President Bush said, “”Today . . . our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts . . . . Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.” That is where the President was wrong. The monsters hit us, so we went out to hunt them, but we failed to take Nietzsche advice, so we became monsters ourselves. Be angry at me if you will, but it does not change the fact the terrorists have won because we may not have lost our country, but we’ve lost what our country stands for.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.


It’s 11 Years Since the WTC Attacks; Do You Know Where Your Constitutional Rights Are?


This Patriots Day, I’m not going to look back at the terrible events of 9-11-2001. We all know the horror, the intense loss, and the overwhelming fear which billowed up and gripped our nation by the throat 11 years ago today. I want to spend a minute looking at the results of the fear because I’m afraid ever since that dark day, we’ve become accustomed to the dark in this country. Specifically, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact our Constitution and its Bill of Rights — cornerstone and keystone — of our nation have been largely discarded in the name of state security.

First, look at the PATRIOT Act. This single piece of legislation has destroyed the liberty and freedom of more Americans than any law this nation has ever passed. It is a law any dictator would be proud to have on his books. It is a law which has completely eviscerated our Constitution.

Broadly defined, the PATRIOT Act has:

expanded authority to regulate financial transactions . . .  and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities . . . . The act also expanded the definition of terrorism . . . thus enlarging the number of activities to which the . . . .  Act’s expanded law enforcement powers can be applied.

When (and why) did our police start looking like our military?

So terrorism is now whatever our government says it is and anyone our government denounces as a terrorist IS one. In the name of state security, our federal government — and by extension state and many local governments as well — can wiretap your phones, monitor your cell phone usage, track your internet browsing, and, with the provision that brought out the fight in librarians all over the country, walk in to your local library, flash a FBI badge and ask to see your library records. What makes this so insidious is this can all be done without your knowledge and in many cases without a warrant. Please read the following and compare what it says to the PATRIOT Act:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

If it sounds familiar, it’s because you remember the text of the Fourth Amendment from a civics class somewhere in your past. Many “unreasonable searches” and more than a few “seizures” have taken place in the last ten years, but where is the required “probable cause?” Probable Cause is no longer a legal definition; it’s whatever the FBI and other law enforcement agencies SAY it is.

Next, how many of you have heard of a guy named Anwar al-Awlaki? He was an odious little man who, as a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda, spewed venom and hatred against the US from his platform as a Muslim imam in Yemen. You don’t have to worry about him anymore though because he was killed about a year ago in a Predator drone strike carried out in Yemen on President Obama’s orders. This probably won’t make anyone lose sleep and I’m not saying it should except for one little detail about Awlaki. He was born in New Mexico in 1971.

According to US Law, anyone born on American soil, regardless of the nationality or citizenship of his or her parents is an AMERICAN CITIZEN. Anwar al-Awlaki was just as much a citizen of this country as George W. Bush is and Awlaki was assassinated on foreign soil by US armed forces. Our President ordered a citizen of this country summarily executed.

Time for another civics review.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

That’d be the Sixth Amendment. Our Founding Fathers wanted to see to it American citizens didn’t just “disappear” like so many French citizens did during their Revolution. One of our most precious rights is the right to a trial. It’s one of the things which makes us who we are as Americans. “THEY” stand people up against walls and shoot them. WE don’t do that! Or we didn’t. Now we do; and let me ask you a question — how long do you think it will be before American citizens on OUR own soil deemed to dangerous to live and to potentially hazardous to arrest and prosecute in the courts end up missing? When that happens, you may want to start looking up.

America has NEVER violated the rights of its lawful citizens in a time of war.

Of course, by the end of this year if you look up, and you live in an urban area, chances are good you’ll see a Predator or a Globe Hawk or maybe even a Reaper drone flying around above your city looking harmless. Right now, the military has 64 drone bases operational on American soil. Not all of them are for training. Maybe the government won’t use the ever-growing drone fleet to spy on us . . . maybe.

Finally, a word about The Global War on Terror. Ever since 9-11-01, many people believe we have been at war with terrorism. Here’s the problem with that. You cannot WIN a GLOBAL war on TERRORISM unless you control the WHOLE WORLD. What you can do though, is keep a lot of people scared of boogie men in Arab robes around every corner. The whole premise of TGWOT is ludicrous, unless you want to keep the country ACTING like we are at war. See, I listened to Granny Wham tell stories about how things were on the home front in WWII. You couldn’t do things you could do before Pearl Harbor. Police could do things they formerly couldn’t do because the country was AT WAR and when you are AT WAR, you have to draft WARTIME LEGISLATION. Unfortunately, we can’t win this war because “Terrorism” isn’t a country we can invade and wipe out. For every terrorist cell we find and take down, three more will pop up.

Comic book or prophecy?
You decide.

That’s okay with the government though because being AT WAR makes it okay to do almost anything, like put Japanese-American CITIZENS in concentration camps, or detain people at Gitmo for 11 years without a trial or spy on our own citizens. As long as the public is running scared and we are theoretically “At War” the government can do whatever it wants to do and cover it up or spin it and it’ll all be okay because it’s all done in the name of national security. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta. Read the book instead of watching the movie. The movie is an action thriller; the book will make you think. Just replace the book’s nuclear war with The Global War on Terror and see where it leads.

Let a great American from another era end this posting with his thought on “security.”

Take it away, Ben.

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and in the end will lose both.