The Bush administration’s allies in Congress, led by J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the speaker of the House, have launched another assault on constitutionally protected civil liberties with a bill many are calling Patriot Act II (PA II). However, it is not to be confused with the 2003 version of Patriot Act II. But according to the Associated Press, in a draft of the House GOP legislation, many of the provisions are similar to the draft copy of the “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003” that leaked out of the Justice Department in January 2003.
Many Democrats and civil libertarians charge the new PA II authorizes heavy-handed infringements on civil liberties. House Democratic leaders and civil liberties advocates said on Sept. 22 that the Republican bill ostensibly responding to the findings of the 9-11 commission would go well beyond the panel’s recommendations. It would call for broad new powers for law enforcement agencies, they said, and would include new authority to conduct electronic surveillance in terrorism investigations.
Among the provisions, said AP, are measures on the deportation of aliens who are suspected of being linked to foreign revolutionary groups which have been labeled as terrorists, mandatory pretrial detention for terrorism suspects, warrants against non-citizens even when a target can’t be tied to a foreign power and enhanced penalties for threats or attempts to use chemical or nuclear weapons.
John Feehery is a spokesman for Hastert. Feehery told AP that criticism of the bill was unwarranted as of the evening of Sept. 22, because the legislation was still not in final form and was not ready for release to the public. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) agreed on Sept. 22 that House members were still working on a final version of the legislation.
But critics warn that the proposed law is aimed against the entire U.S. population, not a minority of Arab immigrants.
The proposal, they say, would grant the government the power to strip citizenship of native-born Americans and deport them without any evidence of wrongdoing, even though this would be contrary to the Constitution.
It would also allow for secret arrests, secret trials and secret torturing of “suspects.” Habeas corpus, Americans’ most sacred right, would be eliminated.
The law would also remove all restrictions on police spying on citizens.
Patriot Act II would create 15 new death penalties, one of which could be applied to acts of protest. Under the Hastert measure’s definitions, anti-war protesters could be deemed terrorists. In fact, any dissident could be spied on, harassed, and imprisoned indefinitely for exercising their legal and constitutionally protected rights.
This legislation would give the government the same power that Stalin and Julius Caesar gave themselves, said one detractor.
While terrorism certainly is a threat that must be addressed, curtailing the civil liberties of innocent Americans is by no means a way of doing so.
AFP readers will recall that the first so-called Patriot Act was passed without the members of Congress being allowed to view the draft of the bill. Those who wanted it to be read and debated were told to vote for it or they would be blamed for the next terrorist outrage. It passed overwhelmingly.
Many experts fear similar tactics will be used to pass PA II, keeping the public ignorant of the proposed law’s existence until it is too late.
YOUR PAPERS, PLEASE ... Fears of national ID with driver's licenses Critics see Republican anti-terrorism bill as back-door step toward identity cards
WILL DRIVER'S LICENSES TURN INTO NATIONAL ID CARDS?
WASHINGTON – The House Republican leadership's new bill to restructure the nation's intelligence bureaucracy would turn driver's licenses issued by the 50 states into a de facto national ID card, say privacy activists.
The House bill, set for committee markups this week, is expected to be merged with a Senate version and voted on before the Nov. 2 election.
But among the little-known provisions of the "9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act" are new requirements for state driver's licenses that have very little to do with driving, say critics.
According to the legislation, within three years of its enactment, no federal agency may accept for any official purpose a driver's license or identification card issued by a state that does not require applicants to provide Social Security number and "facial imaging capture."
Washington would also require all states to share digital data acquired in the process of licensing to other states.
A blogger site committed to fighting a national ID calls the plan a "backdoor creation of a National ID" that "has been the in the works for a few years now, even prior to events of September 11."
"This seems marginally better than the ID provisions McCain-Lieberman bill in the Senate, in that it is not explicitly part of a biometric checkpoint system," wrote the privacy activists of Libertythink.com. "But the highlighted text suggests facial biometrics nonetheless. And the linking of all the databases is troublesome."
The issue of national standards for driver's licenses and other documents was taken up by the 9/11 Commission and by the McCain-Lieberman bill introduced earlier this month in the Senate. Both urge sweeping reforms, such as mandated federal standards for license formats.
Privacy experts say that national standards that require states to add a fingerprint or other biometric data to driver's licenses might effectively create a national ID card.
The House bill also immediately ran into partisan opposition last Friday when it was introduced.
"Instead of acting in a bipartisan manner, the Republican leadership is introducing a bill, written behind closed doors, that attempts to score partisan points and goes far outside the recommendations of the 9/11 commission," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. "Unbelievably, the Republicans claim to have introduced a bipartisan bill, as Senate leaders have done. It is simply not true."
No bill number was available and even the full text was not released until yesterday.
Driver's licenses are not the only form of identification changing. Next year, both U.S. passports and foreign visitor passports will be issued with a special computer chip woven into the cover. The chip will include a photograph of the traveler, and face-recognition technology will be used to make sure the passport presenter is the same as the person who applied for the document.
That seems to be what the House bill is requiring for driver's licenses of the future, too.
This change will be gradual in the United States. All new passports will include the chip by next year, but those holding valid passports won't be required to upgrade until their current ones expire.
On the other hand, citizens of countries in the U.S. visa waiver program, such as Britain and Spain, will have to arrive on U.S. shores with a biometric chip in their passport beginning in October of next year. Congress has already extended that deadline from the initial October 2004 date mandated in a 2002 law.
Facial-recognition programs, however, are notoriously inaccurate, with some studies suggesting error rates as high as 50 percent. Simple changes in lighting, or beard growth, can foil it.
Similar legislation was pushed during the Clinton administration but was rebuffed by privacy activists.
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
This page contains the followign articles on The USA Patriot Act:
- How the Patriot Act Compares to the Ermächtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act)
- A 21st Century Comparison of The Enabling Act and The Patriot Act
- Ten Key Dangers of the Patriot Act
- Bill Moyer's NOW Comments on the Patriot Act
- The USA Patriot Act, A Legal Analysis by Charles Doyle
Read Alex Jones' breakdown of the USA Patriot Act