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Patriot Act enforcement, rejection

July 1, 1993

All the protests about the Patriot Act and the government taking away our civil liberties is just a lot of liberal paranoia, right? Nothing’s changed. Everything is just like it was.

Think again.

On March 20, in midtown Manhattan in New York City, Jason Halperin, a writer for AlterNet.com, and his roommate were about to have dinner in an Indian restaurant just off Times Square.

Halperin later wrote about what happened next. “All of a sudden there was a terrible commotion and five NYPD officers in bulletproof vests stormed down the stairs. They had their guns drawn and were pointing them indiscriminately at the restaurant staff and at us.”

Everyone was ordered to the rear of the restaurant and told to sit down. There were eight men, including the waiter, all of South Asian descent.

Police, fingering the triggers of their guns, kicked open the kitchen doors, and a lot of shouting was heard. Seconds later, five Hispanic men came crawling out on their hands and knees.

Everyone in the place were searched. Then 10 officers in plainclothes came in with laptop computers and began typing information into the machines.

Two of this group identified themselves as officers of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Homeland Security Department.

Halperin’s roommate told one of the officers: “You have no right to hold us.” The chilling response was: “Yes, we have every right. You are being held under the Patriot Act following suspicion under an internal Homeland Security investigation.”

When the two said they were going to leave, one police officer put his hand on his weapon and dared them to try.

All those in the restaurant were later released without charges. But where were their rights to legal counsel? To protection against unreasonable searches and seizures? And what about the issue of probable cause and warrantless detention?

To get the full impact of this story go to AlterNet.com. You will be shocked.

These points and many more are compromised by the so-called Patriot Act. It simply guts the Bill of Rights.

Senate Republicans recently attempted to make the Patriot Act permanent by repealing the sunset provision in the law. They were forced to back off, and the Senate voted 90-4 to pass a bill that expands the government’s power to use secret surveillance tools against terrorist suspects.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was the one who sought to put this iron-handed police state law on the rest of us indefinitely.

These kinds of fascistic police actions are prompting a counter attack on John Ashcroft’s Justice Department, and they’re somewhat worried.

The town of Arcata, Calif. has adopted resolutions making it a criminal offense to comply with the Patriot Act and those who would enforce it.

A groundswell of rebellion is growing. As of this writing, 104 towns, cities and the state of Hawaii have passed resolutions defending the Bill of Rights and directing local law enforcement to not comply with the Patriot Act.

The latest to join the list is the state of Alaska. Its resolution reads, in part: “It is the policy of the state of Alaska to oppose any portion of the USA Patriot Act that would violate the rights and liberties guaranteed equally under the state and federal constitutions…”

Broward County, Fla., the 14th largest county in the country, became the 100th community to say “no” to the Patriot Act.

Jennifer Van Bergen, chairwoman of the Broward Coalition, wrote county commissioners urging them to adopt the resolution. She wrote: “We support repeal or amendment of those provisions of the Patriot Act that undermine the Bill of Rights. We feel that some provisions of the Patriot Act actually make it harder for law enforcement to do its job in fighting terrorism.”

In Ithaca, N.Y. the Common Council adopted a resolution stating its opposition to the Patriot Act. The action drew a response from the Albany division of the FBI.

The FBI wrote: “As you know, FBI investigations are scrutinized by the courts to ensure that proper Constitutional standards are maintained. Unlike foreign intelligence services, FBI investigative techniques must be sanctioned by judges.”

That statement is a flat lie because the Patriot Act allows them to conduct searches without warrants or any judicial oversight.

If that isn’t scary enough, Patriot II—the Domestic Security Enhancement Act—is waiting in the wings. It will remove any rights the original bill missed. Under its provisions Ashcroft can seize any person he deems an “enemy” and deport or hold them without charge for as long as he likes.

Implementation of police state machinery is happening now, and it is happening quickly. The time is now to protest to your local and state officials, your congressman and senators, and support organizations fighting to repeal the Patriot Act or face life in a dictatorship.

Search the Web; pledge your support; call or write today; your constitution and country are at stake.

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