Tools for action? Try out internetACTivism , a wealth of resources.
Speaking to Power
Who are looking out for our rights? Who has the courage to stand tall and say "It is wrong" when refering to the PATRIOT act (Here is a comprehensive "field guide" of PATRIOT act links thanks to the ALA)?
The Patriot Act is not antiterrorism legislation; it’s antispeech legislation, and is no more a direct response to the September 11 attacks than the Children’s Internet Protection Act is a direct result of sincere concern by members of Congress about the safety of minors. The cold, cynical reality is that the Patriot Act is a bloated hodgepodge of speech-chilling law that lurked in congressional corridors not only before September 11 but in large part before the Bush administration. It was hustled into reality in the post-9/11 environment so quickly, secretively, and undemocratically that our Bill of Rights had been clocked with a one-two punch well before any of us realized it was under attack.
Did you miss the passage of the Patriot Act? No wonder; it was smuggled into law. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reported, “several of the key procedural processes applicable to any other proposed laws, including inter-agency review, the normal committee and hearing processes and thorough voting, were suspended for this bill.”
Our Librarians, that's who.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center offers a vastly linked resource on the act.
The USA PATRIOT Act contains provisions that will chill or even criminalize people's legitimate expressions of their political views. For example, the Act creates a new category of crime, domestic terrorism, which blurs the line between speech and criminal activity. Section 802 of the Act defines domestic terrorism as "acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of criminal
laws" that "appear to be intended to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." This definition is so vague that acts of civil disobedience may be construed to violate the law. Civil disobedience typically seeks to influence government policy, and therefore may be construed as an attempt to coerce that change. Furthermore, the portion of the definition stating
that acts must be "dangerous to human life" is extremely broad: it does not distinguish between intentional acts and those that might cause inadvertent harm. Thus, a spontaneous demonstration that blocks the path of an ambulance might invite charges of domestic terrorism under the new law. Such a broad definition invites abuse, in which the distant possibility of danger
creates a pretext under which political activists can be arrested and charged with felony domestic terrorism, rather than the misdemeanor charges that they typically incur. This new crime will inhibit free speech regardless of whether it is enforced because it creates the fear of a disproportionate response to legitimate political expression.
I quoted the above from the Center For Constitutional Rights' .pdf "The State of Civil Liberties One Year Later"
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee can aid you in organizing a Pro-Democracy movement in your area. Take a look at the other areas who have stood up to this most un-American of statues.
Now we need to look at the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, better known as Patriot II. I have linked to this piece from Findlaw before, it is clear and to the point, Anita Ramasastry did a fine job explaining this companion in totalitarianism to the PATRIOT Act. To quote her:
Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, which conferred broad new powers upon the federal government. Now John Ashcroft and his scribes at the Justice Department have been working secretly to create new, 120-page draft legislation that, if enacted, would expand greatly upon these already sweeping powers.
This daring sequel to the USA Patriot Act is known internally as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act. It is also nicknamed Patriot II (the name by which I'll refer to it here), or Son of Patriot. On February 7 of this year, a January 9 draft of Patriot II was revealed to the public - but not by the government. It was made public only through a leak.
Here is .pdf of the leaked document. A confidential "section by section analysis of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act". In a Democracy confidentiality of something of this nature should set some alarms off in the heads of "We the People", don't you think?
Just to weave a sort of theme into this weeks postings I offer you An article about Federalist Society member Viet Dinh, one of the main architects of these laws that are turning the American reality and American jurisprudence into something out of Kafka's "The Castle":
Dinh has headed the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy since May 2001 and helped write the USA Patriot Act, which law enforcement officials credit with helping prevent terrorism and arrest terrorists. Civil liberties groups have criticized the law as a broad assault on privacy and constitutional protections.
Dinh also worked in selecting federal judges and getting them confirmed by the Senate.
Dinh is connected to Ted Olsen, Priscilla Owens and Miguel Estrada, as well as Antonin Scalia from my post of the other day that reflected on judges who don't believe we have a guaranteed right to privacy. You'll note that the entire list belong to the Federalist Society. Attorney General Ashcroft is a member.
Here is another short article on the Federalist Society and its' pervasive influence on our government- and why the influence can be alarmingly far reaching.
More valuable Federalist Society info, this from the Commonweal Institute.
Are you familiar with People for the American Way?
I hope that this information is useful to you. There is a ton of reading linked here today; enough to keep one an engaged auto-didact for days and days. This information is crucial in these times of Presidential "fibbery" and media obsfucation.
My hope is that I have left enough good links to allow anyone to be more than conversant with the inroads the Patriot Act is making on our liberties, we need to engage people in conversation about this stuff. Same with the Federalist Society, PFAW offers a couple appendices that show how our Government is riddled with people more than ready to deprive us of our Freedoms, the very things that we self define ourselves as Americans by.
The 9/11 resources allow "We the People", the regular folks that are America to see through the shifting sories and media smokescreen to be able to ask logical, sensible questions. The answers seem as though they are of such import that when they are revealed people, regular people like us, will know that the corporatism in the White House is the opposite of Patriotism, as far from love of country as one can get, a treacherous mix of lies and profiteering that puts our country at risk as well as our Constitution.
Please share all you get familiar with, bounce what you are learning of people; it will help in your judgement and analysis, help in forming a cohesive world view.
I sadly say I will be away for a week or so. If I can get computer access I sure will try to work up a good posting. Use the blogroll on the sideboard to access good reads, I'm pretty picky about who gets entered there; they are in no particular order and are all really good.
Keeping up wth the news and sharing what I learn is really important to me. I hope it is to you too. We are Democracy, and in a world where the President can and will lie, where the media will not ask questions of Power we are its last hope.
We can be heroes.
Some poetry anyone?