Ervin Swartwoudt
(Cont'd) USA Patriot Act and the Nazi Enabling Act
Sun Sep 17, 2006 02:18

Under George W. Bush's kinder, gentler fascism, U.S. corporations are
now allowed to do business with the Homeland Security Department even if
they cheat the government out of vast amounts of tax revenues by setting up
offshore business fronts in the Caribbean Islands. It used to be that
tax-evaders were tracked down and punished. Now they're rewarded with fat
government contracts. Could the slave labor be far behind?

If only this were the extent of the Bush administration's ramble down
the road to fascism. Way back in November of 2001, William Safire accused
the Bush administration of "seizing dictatorial power." Well, Mr. Safire,
you ain't seen nothing yet. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse,
just when you thought we can't lose any more of our liberties and still call
ourselves a "free society," we learn that the Bush administration wants to
take away even more of our rights. A secret document was just leaked out of
John Ashcroft's Justice Department and turned over to the Center for Public
Integrity. Titled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, this
document turns out to be a draft of new anti-terrorism legislation, a vastly
more muscular sequel to Patriot Act. If passed, it would grant the executive
branch sweeping new powers of domestic surveillance, and it would eliminate
most of the few remaining checks and balances that protect us from tyranny.

It's the Patriot Act on steroids. Charles Lewis of the Center for
Public Integrity shared this document with Bill Moyers, who examined it on
NOW, his weekly PBS program. That episode aired Friday, February 7, yet even
now no mainstream news broadcaster has picked up this incredible story. Read
the NOW transcript and see the document itself online at You can also read the Center for Public Integrity's
analysis of the document at

Dr. David Cole, a Law professor at Georgetown University and author of
Terrorism and the Constitution assessed the document, saying, "I think this
is a quite radical proposal. It authorizes secret arrests. It would give the
Attorney General essentially unchecked authority to deport anyone who he
thought was a danger to our economic interests. It would strip citizenship
from people for lawful political associations."

"Secret arrests"? Did we hear that right? It seems that the Homeland
Security Department (HSD) is about to become the KGB. The first Patriot Act
already allows for people to be locked up indefinitely without a lawyer and
without being charged with a crime. If Patriot Act II passes, then arrests
would also be secret. That means that dissenters (or anyone else, for that
matter) could disappear without a trace, just as they did in Nazi Germany,
in Stalinist Russia, and in Pinochet's Chile.

Patriot Act II would also grant even more immunity to Big Business. A
corporation could pour toxins into your local river, for instance, and you
wouldn't know about it until all the fish died and your neighbor's kids were
born with missing limbs. And then when you went to court and demanded to
know what

the company was dumping in your river, the company could deny you that
information on the grounds that it's a national security secret.
JimHightower put it this way: "All a company has to do to shield anything it
wants to keep from the public eye--say, an embarrassing chemical spill--is
give the documents to the Homeland Security Department and call them
"critical infrastructure information."

Ah, but there's even more to be concerned about here. The document was
created back in early January, but so far it appears that the only members
of Congress who even know of its existence are House Speaker Dennis Hastert
and Vice-president Dick Cheney. (The Vice-president presides over the
Senate, which makes him a member of the legislative branch as well as the
executive branch.) This raises a troubling question: Why has the White House
been sitting on this bill for a month? If the CEOs down at Bush, Inc. really
believe that they need these broad new powers to protect us from terrorists,
why not roll out that bill and start the debate? The answer is all too
plain. In all likelihood, the Bush administration was planning to avoid
debate entirely by springing this bill on the American people in the midst
of a perceived national crisis. Perhaps during the war with Iraq, for
instance. Or perhaps in the aftermath of the next terrorist attack. Or
perhaps right after the Reichstag fire.

Had some courageous soul not leaked this document out of the Justice
Department, the White House might easily have succeeded in passing it
through Congress without debate in the midst of our next perceived national
crisis, much as it did with the first Patriot Act in the aftermath of the
September 11 attacks. A thorough debate of this bill right now, under fairly
stable circumstances, would defuse it and prevent its passage even under
more frightening circumstances later on. There's just one problem. The
debate can't begin until more Americans know about this bill, but so far the
Washington Post is the only major news outlet to even MENTION this story
since Bill Moyers broke it on Friday night.

Main Page - Monday, 09/18/06

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