Watch the following segment from the “Unconstitutional: Examining the Patriot Act” video.
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Unconstitutional: Examining the Patriot Act [Video file]. (2004). Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=18566&xtid=49977
Video Transcript below
America was in shock. As we sifted through therubble in the weeks that followed 9/11, thecountry was terrified that another attack couldoccur at an any moment from any corner. TheBush administration quickly begin to pushthrough sweeping policy changes.
Before anyone had a chance to understand whatwent wrong, he proposed fixes that went farbeyond fighting terrorism. This is what happenswhen federal legislators respond in panic.
Congress had been evacuated because theanthrax scare, and most of us were hangingaround the lawn of the capital. We were really outof touch, yet they felt some desire to rush this billthrough.
Give us a weekend to read it, and let’s take it upMonday morning. Hey, I’ll come in and vote at7:00 on Monday morning, if it’s that urgent.
In the Senate, they called it the Uniting andStrengthening America Act, and in the House,they called it the Patriot Act ProvidingAppropriate Tools Required to Intercept andObstruct Terrorist Acts. And the compromise wasto call in both. The USA Patriot Act. But the realpurpose behind those names, of course, was tosuggest that anyone who would criticize it isunpatriotic, is a traitor.
To those who scare peace loving people withphantoms of lost liberty, my message is this. Yourtactics only aid terrorists.
When the Patriot Act was first sent to theCongress by the Bush administration, it came withthe request that we hold no hearings on it so thatthere would be no public input or publicdiscourse.
That might have even been somewhat acceptablehad it been a bill that was considered by, andadopted unanimously by, the committee, but it wasn’t.
For six weeks previously, Congress had debatedhow to address law enforcement needs in thewake of 9/11, and eventually a bill was craftedthat had bipartisan support.
To have Bob Barr on the far right, Barney Frank,far left, agree was an amazing feat.
We came up with a draft of the bill that did havevery, very broad support across the JudiciaryCommittee. Unfortunately, it was then changed ina last minute draft before it came up on the floor.
Sometime very late in the evening, after midnight,the John Ashcroft version, the Bush White Houseversion was substituted.
The bill was printed at 3:45 AM the morningbefore the vote on the House floor. You tell mehow many of the 435 members of Congress had achance between 3:45 AM and 11:00 AM to read abill that was 345 pages long.
No member of Congress read this legislationbefore it was voted on. Not one.
This is still warm. It just came off the Xeroxmachine. This isn’t the bill that was adopted by aunanimous 36 vote of Democrats and Republicansof the Judiciary Committee. These are criticalissues. This is what we’re fighting for. These areour civil liberties.
The new bill contained provisions that had beenrejected by Congress before 9/11 had evenoccurred.
When I looked at the draft, I said, I’ve seen thisbefore. Almost all of the provisions representedefforts to expand federal law enforcement power.
They used the cover of fighting terrorism to reallygreatly expand federal law enforcement powers.
The Patriot Act ultimately passed both the Houseand the Senate with overwhelming support.
This legislation is essential not only to pursuingand punishing terrorists, but also preventingmore atrocities in the hands of the evil ones.
President Bush quickly signed the Patriot Act intolaw. It was only the beginning.
Some of the worst violations of civil liberties havehappened without the input, or without theauthorization, of Congress or the American public.In fact, it’s often happened with the discussionand with the approval of a small number of menwithin the executive branch.
These few men have changed the character ofAmerica. But have they made us any safer?
We were starting to get calls very quickly afterSeptember 11th from people that would tell us,my cousin was arrested. My brother was arrested.My uncle. And when we started inquiring aboutwhere they were taken or who took them, most of the families that we were talking to didn’t reallyknow.
Right after 9/11, the government began arrestingimmigrants from Arab and Muslim countries in anunprecedented way.
We were targeting communities on the basis ofstereotypes. Hey, I saw someone with a beard.This one came out, he prays by kneeling downand putting his forehead on the ground. Must be aterrorist. That’s the level of ignorance that wehave in this country.
People were essentially presumed guilty untildetermined to be innocent.
The government called these people detainees, asif they were simply being made late for dinner, butthe reality was much uglier.
These folks were kept in solitary confinement,which is 23 to 24 hours a day of lockup. Nocontact with the outside world. Sometimes,without any blankets in the middle of winter. Thelights were on 24 hours. The windows werecovered over. People didn’t know what hour ofthe day or night it was. These were terribleconditions.
And many people were beaten during this time.They were shackled hands to waist to feet. Theywere strip searched every time they had to leavethe cell. Many of them were yanked along the floor.
The arrests were considered secret, and thedetainees were allowed little contact with theoutside world. They were held for months eventhough they had broken no criminal laws. TheJustice Department called it the hold until clearpolicy.
The hold until clear policy was not the subject ofany public debate, or even debate withinCongress. That was a change implemented by theJustice Department itself. It was done on thestroke of one politician’s pen, and it affected thelives of hundreds of immigrants all across thecountry.
This was undertaken wholly outside of the PatriotAct. It was simply a decision by John Ashcroft, avery public decision.
Even within the Justice Department itself, therewas enormous debate and controversy aboutwhether or not the policy was constitutional,legal, or correct.
This rule change will apply to the 75 individualswho are currently detained.
The same way McDonald’s tells you how manyhamburgers they’ve sold, the government wasgiving us kind of a running tally.
There have been a total of over 480 peoplearrested or–
We have arrested or detained 614 persons.
–detained nearly 1,000 individuals.
He swept broadly, he swept blindly, until thenumber was over 1,000, and people startedasking questions. They said, how many of these1,000 people have been charged with the crimesof September 11? And the answer was zero. Thenpeople asked, well, how many of these people,these suspected terrorist, have been charged withany crime related to terrorism? And the answerwas zero.
So those were not good answers from thegovernment’s perspective. So what did thegovernment do? In early November, it announced,we no longer will give out a daily tally. It’s toodifficult for us to give out a daily tally. It wasn’tdifficult for them when they thought it sent themessage that we’re doing something to fightterrorism.
But when it started to send the message, we’relocking up lots of people who aren’t even chargedwith terrorism, they just stopped telling us howmany people were detained.
The net result of our profligate use of detentionswithout legal representation has been to make usless safe. It hasn’t uncovered any terrorists.
The Constitution is really quite clear. In parts ofthe Constitution, the rights and privileges arereserved only for American citizens, like the rightto vote. But elsewhere in the Constitution, thefounding fathers were equally explicit. No personshall be denied life, liberty, or property withoutdue process of law. They did not say no citizen.They said no person.
We’ll never know exactly how many people weredetained in those first seven weeks alone. We’llnever know who all those people are.
As soon as September 11th, I knew, because I’man Arab, they’re going to hate the ground I walkon. And for sure, they did.
February 22nd, I got a phone call about 7:00 in themorning from my uncle saying that about 12 to 15federal agents just came into my parent’s house,picked up my mom, my dad, and my sister.
It was a terrible day. I will not forget in all my life.Me or my family.
Around 5:30 in the morning, I heard a hard knockon the door.
We wake up. What’s going on? What’s wrong?
I keep telling my husband, don’t open. We don’tknow who they are. But he was already there.
I opened the door for them, on suddenly they runeverywhere, shouting.
I thought out house was getting broken into, or maybe being robbed.
And you could hear officers running around, clear,clear, clear, like something you see on TV.
With their guns pointed out, they pulled theblanket off of me, and said get up into the livingroom now.
I was scared.
They had the flashlight in my eye.
Who are they?
I don’t know what they were doing. I don’t know why.
He pulled his gun, and he put it right in the middle of my forehead.
Then I just looked over to my mom on the bed.
Right away, there was one man ordering me to getup. I said, OK, go away, I need to go put my scarfon.
He said, you need to get up right now. I said, youneed to go out of my room so I can cover myselfso I can get up. He won’t let me.
One, he said, I am from the FBI, another said I’mfrom the INS.
He just freaked out. He just went crazy. What are you doing? Go you have a gun? No. No, I don’thave a gun.
We went out into the living room and they tookpictures of my sister, and we were all crying.
And then, when they took us outside, theyhandcuffed my dad.
They handcuffed me in front of my children. Meand my wife, and my daughters.
Just put us in the cat, and drove us to the INSdetention.
We were living legally, above the ground, openlyin this country. We were obeying the law.
But that didn’t seem to matter. Safouh Hamoui,his wife Hanan, and 19-year-old daughter Nadinwere taken here, to the Seattle INS detentioncenter. It was a place that reminded them of theoppression they thought they had left behind.
Safouh Hamoui had been a pilot in the Syrian AirForce when bad weather forced him to make anemergency landing. Rather than receive any kindof praise, he was accused of attempting toassassinate his passengers, which included theSyrian vice president. He fled Syria, and appliedfor political asylum in the United States.
He settled with his family in Seattle, and heopened the area’s first Middle Eastern grocerystore. For 10 years, he and his family livedpeacefully, until his application for asylum wasdenied due to the incompetence of his lawyer. Hewas ordered deported, but he remained in the USwhile awaiting the outcome of his appeal. The FBIcleared Safouh four days after he was arrested,yet the Hamouis were still kept in prison.
When I went there, my heart almost stopped. Myblood pressure went crazy. It was so scary, sounfair. What’s going on? Why am I here? Why arepeople doing this to me?
I just couldn’t understand how they could dosomething like that. I know my dad fought so hardto come to this country for freedom, and just to beable to live without fear of prosecution because ofhis religion, or because of his job, or because ofwho he is. 10 years later, we find out that thecountry that we came here to save us is actuallydoing the same to us.
Why? Why? Because I’m Arabic? Because I’mwearing my scarf? Because I’m proud of myreligion? My religion is so beautiful. Do not be myenemy and torture me when I thought I was infreedom country. I can keep my religion. I canpractice my religion. I can. You know?
You’re in a four walled room, and it’s very small.And you’re in there with your mom, and she’s sick,and– We should have never been in jail, let alonea solitary room.
Just watching them behind bars, all three of themwere crying, were in tears. All three of them werein shock. They just wanted me to find out whatwas going on. And why they’re there.
10 months. Just imagine. 10 months. Day by day.
Media attention helped bring about the release ofNadin and her mother.
I had to hold my mom faint more than 11 timesright in front of my face.
Safouh was let out one month later because theINS had finally admitted he was not a flight risk.
Freedom. That’s what I’m here for. I came to thiscountry for the freedom. And I found I fight for thefreedom, and I’m here for the freedom.
His daughter Nadin, her own memories all tooapparent, rushed to embrace him.
The Hamoui’s youngest daughter arrived homefrom school to find her father there. The fate ofthe Hamoui family still hangs in the balance. Theymay yet be deported.
I’ve lived here my whole life since I was three. Idon’t know anything. I can’t speak Arabic. I can’twrite it. If I go back to Syria, I have nothing.
The American people need to know whathappened in the name of safety. in the name offighting this war on terrorism, we lost our civilliberties over it. We lost our freedom. And that’swhat the terrorists want. They wanted us to fall apart. They wanted us not to become united.They wanted us to separate and turn against eachother. And I think they might have succeeded.
The government has argued that rounding up anddetaining people like the Hamouis is a vital step inthe war against terror. But top counterterrorismofficials say such policies have destroyed ourrelationship with the very communities that couldwarn law enforcement about an impendingterrorist attack.
The first line of defense against internationalterrorism is information. It’s intelligence. It meanshaving sources within communities. What wewere doing by all these roundups is alienatingthose communities, and making them moredistrustful of law enforcement, less inclined to becooperative, less inclined to volunteer and tocome forward when they have information thatwould be of material value to law enforcement.
It was the wrong way to go around it. We weretargeting communities from which there was noknown terrorism, and yet we were doing it on thebasis on stereotypes. It isn’t going to stop the next9/11.
Take a look at this man. Clean shaven, welldressed. He could be a young businessman, buthe’s about to fly a plane into the World TradeCenter.
A group like al-Qaeda has demonstrated that theyunderstand what the American conception of aterrorist is, and they do everything they can toundermine it. The 19 suicide bombers we know,for example, shaved their beards, and theydeliberately avoided mosques because they feltthat mosques were under scrutiny by the FBI.
That’s why, when you base your law enforcement,your anti-terrorism measures on stereotypes,you’re bound to fail.
Extension 14. Message received.
Oh, thank you, I have a consultation to makeabout a case that we’re handling, and we werewondering if we are required to turn overinformation about the immigration status of ourvictims. It is a very specific case where we mightasked for doing that, and we would like toeducate ourselves, get as much information as possible. Please call me back. My number is–
Can you believe that? I have a police departmentcalling, asking if they need to turn over theimmigration status of crime victims. Crimevictims. The victims of crime. That’s what’shappening since Attorney General Ashcroft hasgiven people the idea that state and local policeare supposed to be involved in enforcingimmigration laws. The victims of crime are notprotected any longer.
Ashcroft’s directive that local police enforceimmigration also means that, if an immigrantwitnesses a crime, they will now be afraid to comeforward, fearing that they may be deported oreven locked up indefinitely. That leaves criminalsto run free on the streets, which is exactly whypolice departments in Los Angeles and Seattlehave policies not to enforce immigration law.
What you’re doing is making local policemansurrogates for this enforcement. And they’re notversed in immigration law. They don’t understandimmigration law. They don’t know what the lawis. How can you ask them to go and enforce it? It’sterribly destructive of local law enforcement timeand resources.
The only way to find the real terrorists is throughthe hard job of investigative law enforcement.Investigating individual suspicious behavior thatpertains to a person who’s doing somethingwrong, as opposed to attacking an entire segmentof the population.
To focus on whole groups of individuals, wholeclasses of individuals who’ve done nothing morethan be born in the wrong country or worship thewrong God is poor law enforcement that makes usless safe.
But the Justice Department has ignored therecommendations of counterterrorism experts.Instead, they initiated a sweep of immigrants whoworked at the nation’s airports with the idea thatsuch mass arrests would prevent anotherhijacking.
And many of the people who were rounded up,the majority were Latinos. They had nothing to dowith terrorism, no terrorists were caught.Somehow, the government felt like the countrywould feel better if we rounded up people servingpizza and cleaning in the airports.
And mass deportations were secretly begun.
What the federal government did is, itcommissioned private commercial airliner jetsfrom different airlines, and it had these night timeair lift deportations. 60, 70, 80 Pakistaniindividuals in an airplane that might be aPortuguese airline jet that would take off in themiddle of the night and return people to Pakistan.
Nobody here would be notified. People will havevanished. Their families won’t have been able totrace them. We rounded up people that wereseeking political asylum in this country. We sentthem back to the place they were running from.
Reports began to filter back that people had beentortured in Syria, disappeared in Egypt, andmurdered in Pakistan.
We put all these people in terrible situations allaround the world, and the enormity of that, everyonce in awhile, overwhelms me. This can’t be thecountry that I grew up in.
The way America had treated the detainees wasso bad that the Justice Department’s InspectorGeneral found it necessary to issue a reportcondemning what had occurred.
A report came out and by the Office of theInspector General of the Department of Justicethat basically confirmed that all of these thingsdid happen.
This was not a report of outside critics. This was areport done by the Inspector General of theJustice Department itself, criticizing thehaphazard and the indiscriminate manner inwhich the rights of immigrants were trampledupon in the aftermath of 9/11.
Within a day or two afterwards, Attorney GeneralJohn Ashcroft got on the news and said, well,we’d it the same way all over again.
He insisted that he had done nothing wrong, thathe had no regrets, that he would do it all overagain.
This is the chief law enforcement officer of theUnited States that’s saying, well, yes, we’d redoall of these unconstitutional policies all overagain. And we’re just floored, because there’sanother department in our government justbasically saying, this is horrendous, and it can’thappen. And here’s our Attorney General saying, I don’t care.
What’s happening in Guantanamo is symptomaticof the way the government is proceeding in itswar against terrorism, which basically seems tobe anything goes.
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba a strange place for the USto have a military base. Set up after the Spanish-American War in 1903, the US has paid about$4,000 in rent to the Cuban government annually.Until recently, it was a little known outpost, butafter 9/11, the US government adopted a policythat would shock the rest of the world.
Guantanamo Bay was chosen as the place wherethe administration wanted to hold people thatthey picked up in the war on terrorism. No matterwhere they picked them up. From Afghanistan, orPakistan, or Bosnia, or anywhere else. And theyreally went around, and they looked. Where canwe hold people and not be subject to court reviewor any legal restrictions?
In Guantanamo, the US government insists that the men held are not entitled to the protections ofthe Geneva Convention, since they’re notprisoners of war, that they weren’t combatants ofa state power. And yet, by the same token, thegovernment argues that they’re not entitled to the protections of constitutional laws becausethey’re not held on American territory.
The administration chose Guantanamo as anisland outside the sovereignty of the UnitedStates, but subject to our exclusive control. Andthey did that for the specific purpose of avoidingthe law. Avoiding all the rules. The GenevaConventions, our Constitution.
By creating this label of terrorist, unlawful enemycombatant, they’re trying to use propaganda onwhy we shouldn’t care about them, why weshouldn’t ensure due process for them, and kindof sacrifice our values as Americans that we’veheld so high.
BBC reporter Vivienne White was allowed toaudiotape his visit to a place that had beenpreviously off limits to all journalists.
I’m walking now along the line of cells, which areeight foot by eight foot metal grids. We’re deepinside Camp Delta. I can now see a group of mendressed in white in t-shirts. These are detainees.They were just a few feet away, the other side ofthe wire, and one of them then spoke to all of usin English.
Are you a journalist? [INAUDIBLE] Can we talk to you?
We’re from BBC TV.
Thank you very much. After a long time, we’relucky you’re here.
After a long time, we’re lucky you’re here. It’s busyfor [INAUDIBLE]. We should have saw you before,but [INAUDIBLE].
Keep him walking.
All of us thought, when we started hearing aboutGuantanamo, that the people that were goingthere were people that were fighting for theTaliban, that were part of al-Qaeda. And thereprobably are a lot of people there that aren’t verynice. But what we quickly learned from groupsthat were permitted to go in to do civil rights andhuman right’s assessments is that there werepeople there that really didn’t belong there.
Because the battlefield in Afghanistan waseverywhere and anywhere. And so that meantthat anyone who was in and around was subjectto being brought in.
Whether they were fighting for al-Qaeda orfighting for the Taliban as the military suggests, orwhether they were simply in the wrong place atthe wrong time picked up by a bounty hunter whowanted to claim a reward that the military wasgiving out for bringing in al-Qaeda people.
There were men that were well into their 80s thatwere brought into this, and there were children.This wasn’t just people that were soldiers on thefield.
Moazzam Begg is a British national whose familysays he was installing wells in Afghanistan andteaching in Pakistan until shortly after 9/11.
I received a telephone call from my son. He said,dad, I’ve been arrested. And I said, what? Why? He said, I don’t know. I said, who has arrested you?He says, Americans, and I don’t know where they are taking me. And the line was disconnected.
For over a month after his arrest, his family had noidea of his whereabouts. Finally, they received aletter. He had been taken to Guantanamo Bay.
Everything about these detentions is designed torender these human beings into this state of totaldependence on the United States military. They’reheld in solitary, they’re manacled when pulled outfor interrogation. They’re interrogated at greatlength. They can’t reach out to anybody, theycan’t call a lawyer. They can’t call their families.
These people are entirely at the mercy of themilitary, with no end in sight to their detention.And, not surprisingly, there have been suicideattempts.
At last count, more than 30 of the GuantanamoBay detainees had tried to kill themselves.
We don’t hear about that anymore, because thegovernment no longer reports suicide attempts.
Begg’s family had no understanding of thegraveness of his circumstances. The few lettersthey did get from him avoided details altogether.
In fact, he was trying to avoid everything becauseI had bypass operation and I was not well enough,so he was not writing anything clear to me. After a year, I wrote to him that I’m very well. There’snothing wrong with me. Then, in response to that letter, he wrote me a letter saying that I’m pleasethat you’re well. Please to know that you can do all the activities, but my position is different.
I haven’t seen moon, sun, or natural light for thelast one year except two minutes. I’ve been keptlike an animal in a cage. They don’t give me food.They don’t give me water. My clothes are torn.[INAUDIBLE]. There is no one to help me. That’swhy I’m writing you. So please help me, if you can.That letter tore me apart.
I didn’t know what to do. So I got in touch withthe foreign office, and they said, we don’t haveany access. Americans won’t allow us to go there,so we do not know anything about him. If wehear, we’ll let you know. They never, ever didanything.
What Begg’s father is asking for his son isspecifically guaranteed in tenets of internationallaw. He wants an impartial trial.
If he’s guilty, he should be punished. If he’s notguilty, why should he be there?
The United States has refused to abide by theGeneva Conventions. There are the rules of warthat were developed after World War II. Basically,what they say is, when you capture people duringa war, you have to treat them humanely. You haveto give them medical assistance.
You have to, first of all, decide who they are. Theyget this right to this tribunal that decides, are youa prisoner of war, are you a civilian. Do you havenothing to do with this whatsoever?
In lieu of a trial, President Bush has declared thatcertain of the Guantanamo detainees, Moazzam Begg among them, will be subjected to a militarytribunal.
There is no presumption of innocence in thisprocess, because, to even go to a militarycommission, you have to be presumed to be aterrorist. And they’re using that as justification tolower the standards of justice that we’re used tohis country.
President Bush has already let it be known howhe feels about these people.
The only thing I know for certain is that these arebad people, and we look forward to workingclosely with the Blair government to deal with theissue.
The White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalesadvised the president to ignore the GenevaConventions at Guantanamo. He said the GenevaConventions are obsolete and quaint, and shouldn’t govern the way that we need toquestion prisoners there. Secondly, he said it’s agood thing from our standpoint if you say theGeneva Conventions don’t apply.
Because under US law, violations of the GenevaConventions can be prosecuted as war crimes. Sowe could be prosecuted for war crimes for notfollowing them. But if we say they don’t apply,then we have an excuse to say that we can’t beprosecuted.
We’ve heard recently that there are allegationsthat what we’ve seen at Abu Ghraib reallyoccurred at Guantanamo as well. And we knowthat General Miller, who was in charge ofGuantanamo and now is in charge of Iraq, saidthat he could violate the Geneva Conventions atGuantanamo.
One of the real concerns when we treat others likethis in the name of fighting a war is that othersfighting us can treat out soldiers like this.
We’re setting the standard under which we’regoing to say, it’s OK to do this to our servicemembers. It’s OK for North Korea to capture a UScitizen and label them an unlawful enemycombatant, and try them in our same systemwhere some army general is making all thedecisions, and he appoints a panel of just hisarmy officers to be the judge and jury.
When Donald Rumsfeld was asked how long canthese people be held, he said as long as the waron terrorism lasts. Then they asked him, when will we know when the war on terrorism is over. Hesaid, when there are no longer any terroristorganizations of potentially global reach left inthe world. Now, all of us have potentially globalreach today, and we’re never going to eliminatepolitical violence from the face of the earth.
So what he’s essentially saying is that we can holdthese people forever without ever charging themwith anything, without ever giving them a hearingof any kind.
Congress shall have the power to declare war andmake rules concerning captures on land andwater. Article one of the US Constitution. Lockedup indefinitely, no lawyer, no trial. If you think thiscan’t happen to an American citizen, think again.
We have disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot toattack the United States by exploding aradioactive dirty bomb.
I get a phone call in the car. The prosecutor callsup, he says your client was taken by the military.And I thought they were joking.
Thank you, but no comment at this time.
Newman’s client, Jose Padilla, had been held as amaterial witness for an entire month beforeAshcroft’s dramatic announcement. He had beencharged with no crime, but was seen as someonewho could provide information to a grand juryabout 9/11. Suddenly, he was being called aterrorist.
We know that Abdullah al-Muhajir is an al-Qaedaoperative.
Broadcasting live from Moscow, Ashcroftannounced the arrest as if Padilla had just beencaught in a terrorist act narrowly averted.
We know from multiple independent andcorroborating sources.
Nothing had happened from the time of his arrestfour weeks before until his designation. And theinformation that they had was the same. So, onehas to think, OK, so then what changed?
And I wanted to point out to Director Mueller–
Just prior to Ashcroft’s announcement, FBIwhistleblower Colleen Rowley had beenappearing before Congress. She was testifyingabout the lack of intelligence sharing between theFBI and CIA, and how they’d bungled thewarnings that might have prevented 9/11.
We need to streamline the FBI’s bureaucracy inorder to more effectively combat terrorism.
Now, Rowley’s issues seem passe, as the JusticeDepartment kept emphasizing that interagencycollaboration had led to Padilla’s capture and thecountry save from a terrorist attack.
–was a result of the close cooperative work of FBIagents and CIA agents.
–close collaboration among US governmentagencies.
But what had all this cooperation yielded?
Within hours, I mean 24 hours, the governmentthen had news conferences in which theybacktracked. And they said, well, it wasn’t really aplot. It was just in the talking stages.
I want to emphasize again, there was not anactual plan.
There were discussions about this possible plan,and it was in the discussion stage.
Certainly wasn’t at the point of having a specifictarget.
What’s remarkable is, when you read thegovernment’s papers, is that they insist that thegovernment does not have to charge Mr. Padillawith a crime.
They don’t really have any evidence of any crime.They have a notion that he might have met withpeople from al-Qaeda, but they don’t think he’s amember, and they said so in court papers.
So what was the sudden urgency? The cynicalamong us might believe it was to deflect Rowley’sdamaging information. The government wasn’tsaying. And with Padilla now locked up in solitaryconfinement in a Naval brig in South Carolina, hewasn’t able to explain anything either. Someinformation about Padilla began to surface.
As a teenager in Chicago, Padilla’s involvement ina murder committed by an older gang memberlanded him in juvenile detention. He later movedto Florida, and when he was 21, he went to prisonfor 10 months after firing a gun into the air duringan argument. Upon his release, he converted tothe Islamic faith at a center known for preachingnonviolence.
Over the next 10 years, his only run ins with thelaw were for minor traffic violations. His newreligion would take him to the Middle East, wherehe married his second wife. On a return trip to theUnited States, he was taken into custody.
Mr. Padilla was arrested at Chicago O’HareAirport. He was initially detained under thematerial witness statute, and only after they couldno longer hold him under that statute, they thenlabel him as an enemy combatant.
Padilla’s activities and his association with al-Qaeda make him an enemy combatant.
An enemy combatant? Where did you make upthat term? I really had never heard of it.
I thought the administration’s rules on militarytribunals said they would be only for non-American citizens. Is the whole point of holdinghim as a military combatant to be able to question him without using conventional criminalprocess?
His status, as the Attorney General said in hisstatement, is as an enemy combatant. He is beendetained under the laws of war as an enemycombatant.
If the president labels them an enemy combatant,or in President Bush’s words, a bad guy, they canbe held indefinitely, incommunicado, without ahearing, without charges.
Congress has already ruled on this. Congress said,you can’t ever use our military for domestic lawenforcement purposes. We don’t want you doingthat. We don’t want you to use the military toarrest citizens. We don’t want martial law, andthis president and this Attorney General says, Idon’t have to follow the rules.
Does he have legal representation at themoment?
He was being held under the authority of a federaljudge, and he had legal representation inconnection with that. Yes?
Does he now? Does he now?
I called the Department of Defense. I even calledthe White House. I got the response, he will not beable to call me. I will not be able to call him. I willnot be able to visit him. And while, of course, I canwrite to him, they would not guarantee that hewould receive my mail.
Although the government now claims that Padillamay have been involved in a plot to blow upapartment buildings, they have provided noevidence nor charged him with a crime.
The detention of an American citizen indefinitely,without counsel is based not only on hearsay– it could be triple hearsay for all we know– but theyadmit that one of the individuals who gave theinformation has lied to them in the past, has hisown agenda for giving information, and the otherinformant in quotes recanted.
We’ve never, in the history of the United States,had investigative detention. We don’t do that.Except, now we do.
Recently, the Supreme Court decided that enemycombatants such as the Guantanamo prisonersand Jose Padilla have the right to an attorney andaccess to a court of law. It remains to be seen howthe government will comply with this ruling.
The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy andpublic trial, and be informed of the nature andcause of the accusation and to have theassistance of counsel for his defense. The SixthAmendment of the US Constitution.
Every step of the way, we’ve heard John Ashcrofttell the public, trust us, we’re the government.And yet, he refuses to release importantinformation that the public needs in order tounderstand what’s at stake.
Government claims of secrecy can rightfully beviewed with suspicion.
And the secret, secret, secret, as we have learnedin history, generally it’s they’re hiding their lack ofevidence. Korematsu is a perfect example.Korematsu is when the Japanese who wereinterned based on the government’s allegationthat these people were dangerous and had to beput in internment camps indefinitely until the warwas over.
Subsequently, after the war, everybody nowknows that the information that the governmentgave to the court was false. They misled the courton purpose. And the rest of the information, of course, they said was a secret, secret, secret. Andthe secret, secret, secret, was we don’t haveanything.
In 1953, at the height of the Cold War, thegovernment also misled the Supreme Court in thecase of US v. Reynolds. That ruling established thegovernment’s right to secrecy if it jeopardizednational security. But the Los Angeles Timesrecently revealed that the government used theNational Security claim to hide the truth aboutthe Air Force’s poor maintenance of a B-29bomber that crashed, killing nine people. Thenational security claim was a lie.
There’s a legacy of abuse of these very kind ofpowers. We went through the civil rightsmovement where the FBI and the CIA wereinvestigating the civil rights leaders, Martin LutherKing, the anti-war protesters, people who wereperceived to be the political enemies of thegovernment. This same authority is now vested inthe Justice Department by the Patriot Act, andthat’s a dangerous situation for Americans.
I can’t confirm or deny who our client is. I can’tconfirm or deny some of the arguments thatwe’ve made in our legal papers. I can’t even talkabout the basic facts about what has led thegovernment to try to seal this lawsuit from publicreview and from public scrutiny. I can’t talk aboutwhy the government insists that it jeopardizesnational security.
The ACLU has challenged some of theunconstitutional clauses present in the PatriotAct, but they have been gagged from even tellingthe American public what is going on.
Even as the president has made the Patriot Actone of the cornerstones of his re-electioncampaign, we can’t tell the public about thecircumstances and facts of our lawsuitchallenging a portion of the Patriot Act’sconstitutionality.
I think that the world is going to be more peacefuland free. As a result of this discussion, our fellowcitizens have a better understanding of theimportance of the Patriot Act and why it needs tobe renewed and expanded. The importance of thePatriot Act when it comes to defending America,our liberties, and at the same time, that it stillprotects our liberties under the Constitution–
The public needs to have the facts as it makes itsdecisions about whether or not the Patriot Actwent too far.
The ACLU is not the only organizations that hasbeen silenced by the Patriot Act. If librarians havebeen approached by the FBI, they, of course, can’ttell you that, because one of the rules in thePatriot Act is that you can’t tell, which is terrifying,really.
What it allows the government to do is to come inand subpoena your customer records to find outwhat books have been checked out or what booksthey’ve bought. It doesn’t allow the bookstore tocontact a lawyer to fight it. It’s all done throughforeign intelligence surveillance court, anddoesn’t give us an opportunity to stand up for ourcustomers.
At least when you get a subpoena from a localcourt because there’s reasonable cause tosuspect that someone has broken the law andtheir library records would contribute to theinvestigation, that’s what the law used to be, atleast you could tell anybody that you hadresponded to the subpoena.
And they don’t even reasonable suspicion toobtain records on you. Employment records,medical records, and even banking records.
The government has deputized the bankingindustry to spy on American consumers. What wesee is the possibility that banks, in doing theirpolicing duty for the government, are going to belooking at who we are, finding out moreinformation than they ought. It’s a very profitableplace for them, because they get to sellinformation about us.
You just wonder, are you giving the wrong peopletoo much authority?
Government agents can now check on who youare sending email to, who you are getting emailfrom, and what websites you visit by claiming it isrelevant to an investigation.
It requires no showing that the individual whoserecords are being sought actually engaged in orhad any connection to any kind of terroristconduct. So it basically makes all of us vulnerable.
When you look at the Patriot Act, you’re struck bythe fact that many of its provisions are not limitedto fighting terrorism. They affect federal criminallaw, and procedure, generally.
Most Americans believe that the Patriot Act wasfocused on the war on terror, and yet they’resurprised to find that there are portions of thePatriot Act that have nothing to do with the waron terror. In fact, there is one section of thePatriot Act that allows the government to conductdelayed notice searches, what we call sneak and peak searches.
Sneak and peek warrants are when the FBI wantsto search your property, and even removepossessions, and the Justice Department candelay notifying you. So you can think for weeks,even months, that you’ve been victimized by aburglar when really, the Justice Department hassend its agents into your home.
It gives the government the power to get warrantsfor secret searches of homes and secret wiretapsof phones without any showing of probable causethat an individual has engaged in criminalactivity, which is the usual constitutionalminimum required.
These Patriot Act powers are being used on ordinary petty crimes. On drug enforcement, oncrimes that have had nothing to do with terrorismor the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Whatmuch of the American public doesn’t fullyunderstand is that the USA Patriot Act createspermanent changes to our nation’s loss. Morethan 90% of the Patriot Act will remain aspermanent law unless, and until, we change it.
The right of the people to be secure in theirpersons, houses, papers, and effects againstunreasonable searches and seizures shall not beviolated, and no warrants shall issue but uponprobable cause, the Fourth Amendment to the USConstitution.
The police and the federal law enforcementauthorities working in coordination are targetingpolitical activists because of their speech,because of their thoughts, because of theiropposition to this administration.
If a place is a place to which the public is invited,and in which the public is welcome, it is a place inwhich the FBI is welcome.
I believe that the Justice Department has gonetoo far in changing the domestic spyingregulations that have been on the books for 25years.
The Bush Ashcroft administration scrapped therestrictions on domestic spying.
The FBI is instructing local police officers toinfiltrate peaceful protests.
I get very, very queasy when federal lawenforcement is effectively saying, going back tothe bad old days when the FBI was spying onpeople like Martin Luther King.
They’re not hunting down or looking for whatmost people would define as terrorism. They’respending their money, their time, the hours of theofficers, looking after peace groups, andchallenging peace groups, and disrupting andsurveilling peace organizations.
There are people in this country, millions of us,who stand with the people of the world.
Get that out of my face, or you’re going to getarrested too.
In Colorado, they had police officers in their midstgetting arrested with them. One of the policeofficers had come to one of their meetings thenight before an activity, and acting as an agentprovocateur, had tried to encourage the group totake more aggressive and violent conducttowards the police.
He called himself Chris, when in reality, his namewas Darren Christensen, of the Arapahoe CountySheriff’s department. The group refused to goalong with his suggestion. When the others werebeing led away by the police, Chris was caught ontape being greeted by fellow officers. A similarthing happened in Washington DC.
There was an agent provocateur that came to ameeting of people planning for protests andproposed to them that they should plant bombson bridges, or items that look like bombs, or callin bomb threats. And that was immediatelyrejected by the group of political activists whowere there.
But of course, people who were coming to ameeting for the first time and see someone in the meeting who says that, who appears to be one ofthe political activists, but of course is just a policeofficer pretending to be a political activist, thathas a hugely chilling effect on people’s organizingand on people wanting to come back andparticipate with that group.
The actions of the police on the very first day thatthe Bush administration came to power perfectlyillustrate the abuses that occur under Ashcroft’sdirective.
People came from across the United States toprotest along the parade route, engaging in apeaceful protest, chanting, holding signs,opposing the incoming administration. And theMetropolitan Police department deployed policeofficers, two of whom we caught on video, on anintelligence detail.
On the video, what you can see is two manentering the crowd, and these are two policeofficers in plainclothes. One of them is wearingcamouflage with a hat pulled down low. The otherone is wearing a red jacket and a full faced blackmask covering his face except for his eyes. Theystalked through a crowd of peaceful protestersalong the parade route, beating and pepperspraying people.
You can see the man in the red jacket shaking acan of pepper spray in his hand, which isgovernment issued pepper spray. You can see himuse the pepper spray, spraying it in close range inpeople’s faces and eyes. You can also see himspraying it in wide berths. And this is into a crowd of peaceful protesters, people standing along theparade route, people engaging in a classic firstamendment protected activity, and beingattacked by the police department.
Cop, you’re a sadist. You’re a pig! You’re a cop!
Congress shall make no law abridging thefreedom of speech or the right of the peoplepeaceably to assemble. The First Amendment tothe US Constitution. This George WashingtonUniversity Graduate is a rowing champion. He’sthe first African American to win the US nationals,and he’s the first to win an internationalcompetition. He travels the world competing forthe United States.
My name is Aquil Abdullah, and it’s a Muslimname. My full name is Aquil Hashim Abdullah.Aquil means intelligent, Hashim means destroyerof evil, and Abdullah means follower of God.
He considers himself a Catholic, like his mother,but he was given a name that reflects his father’sfaith. Since 9/11, travel for me has beensomewhat interesting. I was stopped for the firsttime at the airport in Philadelphia. They call overthe airport police. It took about two hours and 45minutes.
It somewhat disturbed me, but at the same time, Ifelt as though, well, maybe this is a good thing.We need to have something in place that protectspeople. But then it happened to me again, and Iwound up missing my flight.
Like most Americans, Aquil was willing to acceptadded airport security measures. But why was ithappening again and again? How could he clearhis name?
I want to represent my country in every way, butonce you’re on the plane, you feel as thoughpeople are still looking at you as a possible threat.
It turned out, his name had been put on a speciallist. This was happening all over the US in aseemingly arbitrary fashion. David Lindorff brokethe no fly story in Salon magazine.
You don’t get a lot of confidence that theTransportation Security Administration’s list isreally doing anything to make us any safer,especially when you see some of the ridiculousthings that they’re doing. We have 71-year-oldnun who was simply flying with some students tolobby their congressmen.
Numerous people with the name David Nelson,which is obviously a very common name, werestopped at the airport and questioned inconnection with being on the no fly list.
They stopped a guy who had the unfortunatename Padilla, the alleged dirty bomber, but he’dalready been caught months before and was in amilitary brig in South Carolina.
Hundreds or possibly thousands of innocentpeople are stopped and detained at our airportsbecause of their name, when in fact, all of thatdoes nothing to improve security.
Many of the individuals who have been stoppedare people who have been critical of the Bushadministration’s policies.
I got stopped at the screening machines, and Iguess they asked me some questions, and theylooked at my ID, and then the next thing I knew isthey told me that they wanted to search me.There’s a little screen that’s there that’s a twopartition screen, and they tell me to go behind thescreen.
And I go behind the screen, and it blocks yourview from the people coming in this way. It doesn’t block your view this way. Well, I didn’treally know what they were going to do is not onlymake me take off my jacket and everything else Iwas wearing, but they made me pull my pantsdown. And I had my shoes off, my pants weredown around my ankles.
And there’s people walking this way, and there’snothing screening me from the rest of the airportthis way. So it’s like a little show there.
The government has now decided everyone willget a terrorism risk assessment. But who’s goingto sort through the data of the millions ofAmericans who fly, and what will be the criteriaused to decide who poses a risk? Besidesoverloading law enforcement with uselessinformation, these techniques reinforce thefeeling that no one has a real plan for catchingterrorists, and that everyone is a suspect.
The end result is a country of Americans rattingon each other, turning each other, calling thepolice. It happened to Andrew O’Connor in Utahwhen a security guard overheard him saysomething the guard thought was dangerous in acollege library.
A girl sat down next to me, and she had a no warbutton on. And I said, you know, George Bush isout of control. I would guess probably 30 minuteslater, I looked over my shoulder and there werefour Santa Fe a police officers standing behindme, and the one officer says to me, stand up, putyour hands behind your back.
And AJ Brown, a student in North Carolina, foundagents at her door eager to inspect the tip theyhad about un-American activities going on insideher apartment. They were referring to this poster.
They flipped out their badges and they said that they were from the Raleigh department of theSecret Service branch and whatnot, and I was like,whoa.
It got to the point where ratting on each other hadbecome institutionalized with the creation ofTIPS, the conceive Terrorism Information andPrevention System.
The idea was, they were going to try to get peoplein jobs like electric meter readers, telephonerepairmen, UPS delivery people, people intransportation like bus drivers and taxi drivers,and then homeowners, just people to report ontheir neighbors. And all these people would reportany suspicious activity.
20 million Americans spying on each other. Thatwas the target number that they were looking for.In order to see what was going on with the TIPSprogram, I signed up to be a volunteer. They hadan online sign up, and I must have waited severalweeks. I was anxiously hoping to get my decoderring and my spy kit, and nothing came.
So after a while, I called the Justice Department,and the woman said, well, we have set up with theFBI this 800 number for you to call. So I dialed the800 number and I got this perky woman’s voicesaying America’s Most Wanted. And I was taken aback, and I asked, well, isn’t this the FBI? I thought I was calling the FBI.
She said, no, this is the Fox TV program America’sMost Wanted. We’re working with the JusticeDepartment on the TIPS program. So this is theultimate in privatization turning over this wholeintelligence operation to Fox TV. The FBI deniedusing Fox TV, but Lindorff and Salon magazinestand by the story. Shortly after it hit the press,the Justice Department killed the program.
This kind of process, which the law enforcementpeople call shaking the trees, that might’ve beenmaybe minimally acceptable in the couple ofweeks after September 11th. But two years later,it is not, because there hasn’t done anything.
Another instance of shaking the trees is takingplace in scuba diving shops all across the country.We got a phone call from the LAPD on behalf ofthe FBI, and they served us with a subpoena. Thesubpoena was worded in such a way that theysaid they wanted the names of all of ourcustomers for the past three years.
That would include people who’ve done scubatraining. That would include people who came in and bought a book. If you came in and wereinterested in buying a snorkel, then I had to turnover your name to the FBI. The thought was thatterrorists were going train themselves as scubadivers, swim into ports and harbors, and blowthings up.
Basically, you’re talking about training people likeNavy SEALS train for years, and years, and years,and a lot of them can’t do this. It’s an incrediblycomplex skill. And I think, if anybody said, thissort of makes sense, and you think there’s a plotgoing on, you’re going to be happy to cooperate.
But again, this was just such a broad based fishingexpedition, that it’s a waste of their time as wellas a terrible infringement upon constitutionalguarantees that have been in place for over 200years. And so at that point, we said flat out, wewill not give you any names from our customerdatabase because we feel that the subpoenaviolated our Fourth Amendment rights tounreasonable search and seizure.
So when we said to them, we want to go before ajudge, they really balked. Our attorneys went backand forth a couple of times, and finally theywithdrew the subpoena. Had they gone to courtand lost, which I think they would have, theproblem is this voluntary cooperation is suddenly going to dry up. It would set a precedent. They donot have a right to get certain information. Theyare not allowed to ask you, give me all yournames, nor do you have to comply.
Attorney General Ashcroft accused librarians ofbeing hysteric about the Patriot Act. And whenyou understand all the libraries in the countrythat had been visited by FBI agents wantinginformation, I don’t think that their response washysteric at all. The FBI, or somebody, can’tsubpoena what we don’t have.
Lots of libraries across the country are shreddingtheir records just as we are. The second thing wedid was to post warning signs alerting our patronsto the fact that we were no longer going to be ableto protect their constitutional right to privacy.Most people really believe that public libraries aresacred institutions where what they go in andread is nobody’s business but their own.
If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, we areto achieve our destiny, then we need more newideas for more wise men reading more goodbooks in more public libraries. These librariesshould be open all except the censor. Let uswelcome controversial books and controversialauthors, for the Bill of Rights is a guardian of oursecurity as well as our liberty, John F. Kennedy.
Noncompliance has become a watchword ascommunities across America fight back againstthe destruction of civil liberties.
The oath of office, as a city council person, is todefend and uphold the Constitution against allenemies domestic and foreign. And it’s time totake back the government from an executivebranch that is running berserk.
Dave Meserve sponsored a resolution makingArcata, California, a civil liberties safe zone from the Patriot Act. If the police are requested byfederal agents to participate in a search or anarrest procedure that they perceive to be possiblyunconstitutional, then it is incumbent upon themunder our ordinance to refuse to cooperate at thattime, and to immediately notify the council thatthey’ve been asked to do that.
What we need to do is band together in states, inmunicipalities, and say, not in our town, you don’tenforce these unconstitutional laws.
Fear strikes really close to home. It is a local issue,and we’ve had quite a bit, quite enough of it inthis community since the Patriot Act was passed. Iwould submit to you, the Eugene City Council,that courage is the antidote to fear.
And I really urge you to have the courage to passthis resolution of the Lane County Bill of RightsDefense Committee, which opposes the portionsof the Patriot Act that are against theConstitution, that are against our rights under theBill of Rights.
You can say to yourself, well, it’s not going toaffect me. I don’t have any political dissidentviews. It’s not going to affect me, I’m not an immigrant. It’s not going to affect me, I’m notgoing to be investigated by the state or the police.It’s not going to affect me, I’m not going to besubject to any searches or seizures. Throughoutour histories, that sort of philosophy has notreally made America move forward. It has heldAmerica back. With that philosophy, certainpeople would be interned. Oh, god. Certainpeople are about to become interned.
Motion carries unanimously.
Now, four states and more than 300 municipalitieshave joined the cities of Arcata and Eugene inpassing resolutions against the Patriot Act.
We were very amused by comments from aJustice Department spokesman who says that,obviously, federal law trumps local law. If thefederal government would like to come and saythat somehow they are going to make uswithdraw our ordinance, to quote our president, Isay, bring them on.
We’ve always thought of ourselves as the city on the hill, the model for democracy that we wouldlike to disseminate throughout the world. And yet,by our actions after September 11th, we havedestroyed that model.
The designation of enemy combatant, to holduntil cleared policy, the disregard of the GenevaConvention, the infiltration of groups and firstamendment activities, all of that happenedwithout Congress’s say so, input, and without apublic debate about whether or not thegovernment was going too far, too fast.
This is not an issue of the left and the right. This isan issue of our basic freedoms.
Some of our values aren’t written in paper, but have been established and grown through ourhistory. And the intangible values that makeAmerica great and have the presence around thatit does, and be looked to as a leader, we need tostick to those intangible values as well.
The United States really is different from othercountries. We’re not like France, or England, orJapan. We’re not bound together by a commonrace or a common religion. What binds thiscountry together are our principles, mostimportantly, democracy, fairness, and the rule oflaw.
The American public has to remind itself not justwhat is it that we’re fighting against, but whatwe’re fighting for.
These core values that define us as a country arewhat makes us strong as a nation. They’re not ourweakness.
First they came for the Muslims, and I didn’t speakup, because I wasn’t a Muslim. Then they came forimmigrants, detaining them indefinitely, solelyupon the certification of the Attorney General,and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t animmigrant. Then they came to enter homes andoffices for unannounced sneak and peeksearches, and I didn’t speak up, because I hadnothing to hide.
Then they came to arrest Americans Citizens andhold them indefinitely without any charges, andwithout access to lawyers, and I didn’t speak up,because I would never be arrested. Then theycame for immigrants and students from selectedcountries, luring them under the requirements ofspecial registration as a roost to seize them anddetain them.
And I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t requiredto register. Then they came for anyone whoobjected to government policy, because it onlyaided the terrorists and gave ammunition toAmerica’s enemies. And I didn’t speak up,because I didn’t speak up. And then they came forme, and by that time, no one was left to speak up.