In my original posting on this topic, I listed the following three points:
1. Illegally authorized and supported a warrantless wiretap program, and when caught had the audacity to claim he had been given the authority by Congress, and then claimed the Constitution gave him the right, anyway. Anytime you use the Constitution to justify violating the Constitution, you’re way off on the wrong track.
2. Supporting and promoting the Patriot Act. One of the most invasive, unnecessary, and unjustifiable pieces of legislation ever written.
3. Using the threat of “terrorism” as a tool to turn neighbors against each other, prevent activism against his agendas, and cow the population and its representatives into accepting more and more outrageous assaults on their liberties in the name of an indefinable sense of “safety”.
I will show here how all three of these have undermined the unity of our society, eroded our civil liberties, and laid the groundwork for a greater departure from the ideals of democracy than we have ever seen before. It is not my place here to propose counter-measures and alternatives to these problems, but I do want to state that I feel strongly that listing the problems is only constructive if action follows. It is my dearest hope that these debates can prompt their readers into responsible action designed to take back control of their government and affect a change in the direction of its growth.
That said, I will plunge on in…
1. The warrantless wiretap program.
First a little background on this issue:
In 1791, the Bill of Rights was created, along with our Constitution. Amendment IV states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
From 1972 on, our country has been involved in a seemingly constant state of seeking new definitions and justifications for warrantless surveillance. FISA (50 U.S.C. 1803) was signed into law in 1978. From there on out, we have a series of allegations of abuse of investigative power and amendments to the legal documents which regulate how much power the investigators should have (see U.S. v. Truong Dinh Hung, E.O. 19249, Michael V. Hayden’s statement before the House intelligence committee in April 2000, et al).
Then, in 2001, we were attacked by terrorists. The next day, FBI director Robert Mueller went before FISA to ask for expedited procedures to issue FISA warrants for eavesdropping. The requirement for detailed paperwork was greatly eased, allowing the NSA to begin eavesdropping the next day on anyone suspected of a link to al Qaeda, every person who had ever been a member or supporter of militant Islamic groups, and everyone ever linked to a terrorist watch list in the United States or abroad.
On September 18, Congress passes Public Law 107-40, the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which authorizes the President to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist acts that occurred on September 11, 2001…”
In early 2002, President Bush signed a secret order, authorizing warrantless NSA surveillance. In April of 2004, President Bush gave several public speeches which emphasized that all government wiretapping programs required procurement of a court-issued warrant. In Buffalo, New York, he was quoted as saying, “Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.”
In December of that year, FISA was amended to include the “lone wolf” provision, which defined American agents accused of terrorist activity as agents of a foreign power, even if they were not actually engaged with a foreign power. On December 15, the New York Times broke the story on the warrantless wiretapping program to the public.
On December 18, President Bush confirmed that he had, indeed, authorized the program. Over the next couple of days, the administration attempted to justify its actions by claiming that FISA would not have moved fast enough to allow them the necessary surveillance. What followed was months of various government representatives accusing the administration of overstepping its bounds, while other government officials presented various justifications for the program. It was presented that AUMF gave the President the authority to sign off on the program, and it was argued that the Constitution gave the President the authority.
As previously stated, AUMF authorized the use of all force deemed necessary by the President in his role as Chief Executive in the war against terrorism. The argument that this justified warrantless surveillance is laughable. Legal precedent has always concluded that in a case of two laws in conflict, the more specific will govern. FISA is extremely specific, and its powers are broad. Its dictates supercede the vague guidelines of AUMF, and its powers should have been sufficient for any legal surveillance necessary. The Constitution does give the President broad executive authority in times of war, but the Supreme Court demonstrated in Youngstown Steel and Tube Co v. Sawyer in 1952 that the President, even in time of war, is not above the letter of the law.
The warrantless wiretapping program, unbeholden to any United States law or congressional oversight, is a clear violation of our fourth Amendment rights. The fact that each call monitored theoretically terminated on one end in a foreign country is no protection from this. The fact that an American citizen chooses to call another country does not nullify his civil rights. The program is illegal, and it’s authorization by the President a clear disregard for the legal protection of the people.
2. The PATRIOT Act.
The Patriot Act is a massive document (342 pages) voted in during the the panic following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fear and outrage following those incidents created a climate where this bill could be passed without even being read by most of the Congressmen voting for it. Quite a few have since expressed regret at this “oversight”. President Bush, however, continues to insist that the legislation is needed in the war against terrorism. Many aspects of this bill, however, pose significant threats to our civil liberties, and to those of foreign citizens legitimately living in this country. What I will do here is a point by point breakdown of some of the most disturbing aspects of this document, along with information available as to how its dictates have been applied, drawing a demonstrable link between its heightened authority to government figures, and the increasing reports of civil rights violations worldwide.
The problems with the Patriot Act fall primarily into three categories; those that blur the line between domestic surveillance and foreign surveillance (thereby allowing the broader investigative powers alloted to surveillance of foreign subjects to be applied to American citizens), those that broaden domestic investigation powers, and those that weaken the definition of criminal acts by collecting them under the broad title of “terrorist activities”, thereby allowing a greater scope of investigative and punitive powers being applied to them.
In the first category (that of blurring the line) I submit sections 201, 214, 215, and 218.
Section 201 added involvement with chemical weapons or suspected terrorist activity to the list of crimes which could be used to request a wiretap under Title III (which is the legal document that governs domestic surveillance). The government could already do this to foreign citizens under FISA, so this is here just so that it can be used on US citizens. This section represents the first step in indicating that U.S. citizens are under review as possible terrorists.
Section 214 changes the standards necessary for a FISA wiretap order to include “any investigation to gather foreign intelligence information” rather than having to prove that the subject is a foreign agent. The problem is that it allows FISA to step in and conduct surveillance on a much wider swath of the population, and FISA is much more powerful and lenient than Title III . So now FISA’s powers can be applied to U.S. citizens if investigators can claim that their activities have anything to do with foreign intelligence. It’s a looser standard, and it is not necessary. Surveillance of citizenry should be conducted under Title III.
Section 215 alters the FISA act as follows: “The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee of the Director … may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities….(2) An order under this subsection shall not disclose that it is issued for purposes of an investigation described in subsection (a). (d) No person shall disclose to any other person (other than those persons necessary to produce the tangible things under this section) that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained tangible things under this section. (e) A person who, in good faith, produces tangible things under an order pursuant to this section shall not be liable to any other person for such production. Such production shall not be deemed to constitute a waiver of any privilege in any other proceeding or context. “
This is the part which allows the government to demand library and bookstore records, medical files, student records, etc. In 1953, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote, “If the lady from Toledo can be required to disclose what she read yesterday and what she will read tomorrow, fear will take the place of freedom in the libraries, bookstores, and homes of the land.” Nearly all states have since passed confidentiality laws protecting records of reading habits, believing, as a New York State legislator explained when that state passed its library confidentiality law in 1982, “[These] records must be protected from officials who might overreach their constitutional prerogatives. Without such protection, there would be a chilling effect on our library users as inquiring minds turn away from exploring varied avenues of thought because they fear the potentiality of others knowing their reading history.” Likewise, it is unlikely that many will feel safe being totally honest with their doctors in disclosing information such as previous drug use with the knowledge that the records can be demanded easily.
Under FISA, certain business records could be reviewed only “for purposes of conducting foreign intelligence” if the target was “linked to foreign espionage” or an “agent of a foreign power.” Section 215 changes this, and allows FISA to demand “any tangible thing” from any source. Those served with the orders are under a “gag law” that prevents them from telling anyone that their privacy has been compromised. In addition, investigators are no longer required to limit searches to individuals suspected of being terrorists; instead, they need only state to a FISA court judge that the records requested are in connection with a terrorist investigation. This assertion alone is sufficient; the FISA judge has no authority to reject this application. Last year, the FISA court did reject 75 subpoena requests, saying it had been misled by FBI agents on the purpose and nature of their investigations. That decision was overruled by the Department of Justice’s review court-which claimed that all requests for FISA orders are acceptable even if the primary purpose of the investigation has nothing to do with terrorism.
Revisions under the renewal of the Patriot Act state that institutions served with a Section 215 warrant may challenge this “gag order”…but not until after a year has passed. There is, thankfully, a clause in there about how these investigations cannot be based solely on the execution of the subject’s activities protected under the First Amendment, but this clause does not apply to foreigners legally resident in the United States.
Section 218 expands the use of FISA procedures to include investigations where foreign intelligence is just “a significant” purpose of the investigation, rather than THE purpose. This allows investigators to use the broader powers and less stringent application to investigate American citizens who are not necessarily spies or terrorists, but who in some nebulous way might be connected to foreign intelligence.
In the category of broadening domestic surveillance powers, I submit sections 206, 213, 216, 217, 219, and 503.
Section 206 allows government investigators to engage in roving wiretap surveillance, which means that they do not have to name a specific location or communications line to be intercepted. Previous to the Patriot Act, investigators were enabled to apply for roving wiretap warrants, but had to demonstrate in their application that the subject of surveillance would actually be using the line to be intercepted. The Patriot Act makes such assurances unnecessary. This makes it very possible, even likely, that innocent people’s communications will be intercepted. An example provided in a Duke Law Journal article by Nathan C. Henderson illustrates:
“…if a terrorist “us[ed] the Internet connection at a public library and law enforcement was using a FISA wiretap order to monitor his or her Internet communications, [law enforcement] might continue to monitor all Internet communications at that site [even] after the terrorist [had] left and was no longer using the computer.”
Section 213 allows government agents to perform searches and seizures without notifying the subject of the investigation for an indefinite amount of time. This is not limited to terrorist investigations. Previous statutes had allowed a delay of notification, but under much stricter standards: Title 18, section 2705 allowed 90 days, under the following list of requirements:
That immediate notification risked
A) endangering the life or physical safety of an individual;
(B) flight from prosecution;
(C) destruction of or tampering with evidence;
(D) intimidation of potential witnesses; or
(E) otherwise seriously jeopardizing an investigation or unduly delaying a trial.
The vague language and loosening of the standards in Section 213 is an invitation to abuse. It does not demand responsible accountability on the part of the government, and is an open door to fourth Amendment violations. An affected party will be unable to file procedural complaints if they are unaware that the search has happened, and the fact that the government can seize its citizen’s property without even telling them what they have taken is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Balancing government security and civil liberties has always been a delicate process, and this revision of existing statutes tips the balance. In 2003, the DOJ issued its first survey of the application of this section. It found that section 213 had been used to delay notification 108 times, and that no requests had been denied, thus demonstrating the leniency inherent in this phrasing.
Section 216 redefines the devices which can be used under pen register and trap and trace surveillance. This is important because these kinds of surveillance act requests must be approved by the court as long as they meet the very lax standard that “information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.” When this was just applied to phones, it wasn’t such a big deal because the only information recorded by these devices was incoming and outgoing phone numbers. Under the new definitions, however, these standards can be applied to computer transmissions which include content information which should be protected under the more stringent Title III standards for wiretapping. The information provided by a URL is much more revealing than that provided by a phone number (look at what I’m typing on this one…).
Sections 216 and 219 allow judges anywhere in the country to provide warrants for wiretapping and search-and seizures. The problem with this is that if a court in California issues a warrant for someone in Georgia, that person (or organization…your ISP, perhaps) will have a very hard time filing complaints against the procedure (based on legal defects) or requests for clarification. However, given 213 (see above), they probably won’t know about it in time to file complaints, anyway.
Section 217 allows a new exception to the Title III requirements for judicially supplied warrants for wiretaps, to include computer transmissions to a “protected computer”, which is any “which is used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication” (that is, most of ’em on the Internet), if:
(I) the owner or operator of the protected computer authorizes the interception of the computer trespasser’s communications on the protected computer; (II) the person acting under color of law is lawfully engaged in an investigation; (III) the person acting under color of law has reasonable grounds to believe that the contents of the computer trespasser’s communications will be relevant to the investigation; and (IV) such interception does not acquire communications other than those transmitted to or from the computer trespasser.’.
This means that if the investigators have the permission of the owner of a computer on one end, they can intercept the traffic of anyone they decide is relevant to their investigation, without a court warrant. The content of emails, for example, should clearly fall under Title III, wherein it would be protected under the relatively high standards necessary to obtain a warrant. If this kind of information is so necessary to root out and remove terrorists among us, it is important (and personal) enough to merit a warrant.
Section 503 adds any crime of violence and any attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the “terrorist” offenses as grounds to obtain and store samples of our DNA. A crime of violence is defined in U.S.C. title 18, 16 as:
(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or (b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.
So…say you go to a protest rally, the rally gets out of hand and some property is damaged. You are rounded up and hauled to jail…and even if you get off without being charged as a terrorist ( see section 802, below) you may still wind up with your DNA on file. But you never thought you had a reasonable expectation of privacy as to your DNA, did you?
Finally, in the category of creating a class of criminals under the label of “terrorists” to which harsher standards may be applied, I submit Sections 802, 805, and 808.
Section 802 defines terrorism as follows:
the term `domestic terrorism’ means activities that– (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended– (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur within the jurisdiction of the United States
Acts dangerous to human life is a pretty sweeping definition, which could involve anything from importing anthrax to driving a car really fast. Obviously, coercion and intimidation are also very open to interpretation. What is disturbing about this is that they have created a new class of crime not defined by specific acts but by interpreted intent. Also, the fact that they threw in the bit about affecting the conduct of the government by mass destruction lends itself to prosecuting protesters as terrorists if the protest they are attending gets rowdy. There are plenty of other laws in place to protect individuals and property from destruction. Section 802 does require that the acts in question are a violation of a pre-existing law. But in combining this with the “intent” toward coercion or intimidation, we set the stage for a new interpretation of those laws.
SEC. 805. Material Support For Terrorism
This section states that “expert advice and assistance” are considered material support for terrorism, and therefore punishable by law. It does state that the advice must be given with the knowledge that you are aiding a terrorist. But it leaves the question, if I post to a forum where I know there are people of Arab descent who have a fanatical belief in Islam…does that mean I know I am contributing to the evil schemes of a potential terrorist?
SEC. 808. Definition Of Federal Crime Of Terrorism. In this section, we get a review of what a “federal crime of terrorism” is:
(5) the term “Federal crime of terrorism” means an offense that— (A) is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
(B) is a violation of— (i) section 32 (relating to destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities)…[skipping a bunch, here]… 1030(a)(1) (relating to protection of computers), 1030(a)(5)(A)(i) resulting in damage as defined in 1030(a)(5)(B)(ii) through (v) (relating to protection of computers)…
O.K. 1030 states that anyone knowingly accessing a computer without authorization and by doing this gets hold of information that is considered “secret”; or gets financial records of anyone (through a financial institution, card issuer, or consumer reporting agency); or information from any department or agency of the United States, or messes up a computer that is consistently or even sometimes used by the government; or transmits a program, code, command or information that damages a computer; or through accessing an unauthorized computer causes a loss to someone of at least $5000, or messes with medical diagnosis of anyone, or causes physical injury to anyone, or creates a threat to public health or safety; and so on, is going to be in Big Trouble.
So, you put this together with section 805, and now if you put up information on a forum that someone else uses to hack into a bank (and, of course, you had reason to know they were going to do that, i.e.”Hey, guys, what’s the most brilliant scheme you’ve ever thought of for breaking into the Federal Reserve?”)…you are now liable to be prosecuted as providing material aid to a terrorist.
There is no evidence that our civil liberties were the problem which enabled the terrorist attacks of 9/11. There is no evidence that their curtailment has helped our government capture any terrorists. There have been allegations that the Patriot Act has been used to justify civil rights abuses, beginning in 2003 with the Justice Department’s first report on the issue, which stated:
The inspector general said that from Dec. 16 through June 15, his office received 1,073 complaints “suggesting a Patriot Act-related” abuse of civil rights or civil liberties. The report suggested that hundreds of the accusations were easily dismissed as not credible or impossible to prove. But of the remainder, 272 were determined to fall within the inspector general’s jurisdiction, with 34 raising “credible Patriot Act violations on their face.” In this month’s semi-annual report to Congress, the Justice Department indicated that there had been a broad range of civil rights abuses alleged against department personnel, ” including mistreatment of federal prisoners, misuse of surveillance powers, mistreatment of protesters at the 2004 political conventions, and misuse of the material witness statute”
Records turned over as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit (filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center) also indicate that the FBI has investigated hundreds of potential violations related to its use of secret surveillance operations. “The documents provided to EPIC focus on 13 cases from 2002 to 2004 that were referred to the Intelligence Oversight Board, an arm of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board that is charged with examining violations of the laws and directives governing clandestine surveillance. Case numbers on the documents indicate that a minimum of 287 potential violations were identified by the FBI during those three years, but the actual number is certainly higher because the records are incomplete.” –Washington Post
The “Final Report Card on 9/11 Commission Recommendations”, published by the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission on December 5, 2005, indicated that for all of its efforts, the Patriot Act had done very little to improve our readiness to deal with another terrorist attack.
3. Using the threat of “terrorism” as a tool to further his agenda.
While this is arguably a subjective opinion, there is enough evidence available to support the conclusion. Immediately after 9/11, Congress was presented with the Patriot Act, which, as previously mentioned, was a lengthy document that was generally not read before being voted into law. The vote was rushed through in the name of protecting us from further attacks, and when its renewal came on the floor, President Bush accused Senators unwilling to pass it without amendments of acting irresponsibly and standing in the way of protecting the country from attack. “In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment,” he stated in his weekly radio address. This administration has put itself in the untenable position of claiming a concern with civil liberties on the one hand, while on the other it rushed through legislation with which many people have significant civil liberties concerns.
On March 12, 2002, the Homeland Advisory Security System was put in place, created by Presidential Directive, and unveiled by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, Tom Ridge. This system presented the public with a nifty color-coded system for knowing just how scared they should be. There are no published standards for just how this system is set, and no constructive advice for what to do when we get to red. Yellow (where we currently stand–“Elevated Risk”) indicates that “All Americans, including those traveling in the transportation systems, should continue to be vigilant, take notice of their surroundings, and report suspicions items or activities to local authorities immediately.” Tom Ridge stated that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or “high” risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled. If you do get scared, we have www.ready.gov, which is the government site that tells us all what to do in case we espy a terrorist outside our window: Full of helpful checklists for the stuff you should accumulate in case they come at us again, and information on pandemic flu viruses:
“If a pandemic occurs, it is likely to be a prolonged and widespread outbreak that could require temporary changes in many areas of society, such as schools, work, transportation and other public services.”
President Bush has in his own speeches consistently used heavily emotion-laden language in order to goad the American people into an increased awareness of the seriousness of the situation:
” America faces an evil and a determined enemy.”-11/9/01, at the signing of the National Guard and Reserve Proclamation, where he announced that there would be added security at airports.
“You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.”-November, 2001, in a joint press conference with French President Jacques Chirac.
“This is an evil man that we’re dealing with. And I wouldn’t put it past him to develop evil weapons to try to harm civilization as we know it.”-11/6/01, justifying continuing military pressure in Afghanistan.
“Anybody who tries to affect the lives of our good citizens is evil…I’m oftentimes asked by our friends in the press, do I know if there’s a direct connection between what took place on September the 11th and what’s happening today. I have no direct evidence, but there are some links. Both series of actions are motivated by evil and hate. Both series of actions are meant to disrupt Americans’ way of life. Both series of actions are an attack on our homeland.”-10/24/01
Naturally, all war time Presidents have engaged in rhetoric designed to unify and reassure the American people that they are fighting the good fight. But this fear-mongering was used to tilt us headlong into the war with Iraq (which, in case you’ve forgotten, was not supporting Al Qaeda, nor possessed any WMD’s), to pass legislation such as the Patriot Act, and to justify illegal wiretapping.
Remember the anthrax? The anthrax that could really only have come from terrorists in Iraq? Except that it wasn’t. In December 2001, the White House finally put out a paper (rather than an announcement) admitting that the source of the anthrax was domestic. What about cluster bombs? We were told in 2003 that U.N. Inspectors had found “a new variety of rocket, seemingly configured to strew bomblets filled with chemical or biological agents over large areas.” (New York Times News Service, March 10, 2003) Well, we used them. In 2003, it was estimated that the United States had used over 10,000 of them, killing over 300 Iraqi civilians (from a declassified report complied by U.S. Central Command). There have been no reports of Iraq using them on American troops, however. There was also the report of Babylon Software in Iraq having a special unit specifically to break into foreign computers and download sensitive data or transmit viruses. The Deputy Director of Foreign Operations on the Joint Staff announced in 2003 that the United States had experienced no major attempts to penetrate its systems during the war. We were told that Iraq had Scud missiles that could be used to attack Israel. No scud missiles have ever been found.
With our advanced intelligence-gathering network, with hundreds of assistants to the administration, how does this happen? What’s wrong with the truth? “We don’t know for sure whether there are scud missiles in Iraq. There could be. We are searching the area as thoroughly as we can,” for example. Because this sort of reasonable approach cannot as easily ensure the support of the American people.
In 2001, the Department of Defense announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Information, in order to strategically influence the dissemination of information. The department was disbanded, under pressure, shortly after it was publicly revealed. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the office would not lie to the American people. But in a breakfast meeting with the Defense Writers Group in 2002, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith was unwilling to directly answer questions about whether the department would be willing to outsource the planting of disinformation. Secretary Rumsfeld was quoted as saying after the Department’s shut down, “I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I’ll give you the corpse. There’s the name. You can have the name, but I’m gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.”
It can be argued (and has) that selectively releasing information to alter the course of a war is not necessarily immoral. Certainly, disinformation propaganda exists on all sides in nearly every conflict, and keeping on top of information distribution can be vital to national interests. But correcting false information distributed in another country is very different than misleading (by ignorance or purposeful omission) the citizens of your own. Sadly, we don’t know what the truth is, in many instances, here in our own country. The sensationalized reports that have been released throughout our “war on terror” should certainly have been enough to make us more skeptical than we have become. When presented with an argument such as “this legislation is necessary to prevent more terrorist attacks” or “more attacks are planned” we are within our rights and responsibilities to demand how and when. And yet, because of the rhetoric, these statements are categorically accepted, without requirement of proof. There have been no more terrorist attacks on the United States since 2001. Is this because we are so well prepared to prevent them, or because no more have been attempted? No one knows. No one is asking.
Lastly, I would like to submit the case of Brett Bursey, arrested in October 2003. Bursey held a protest sign which stated “No War For Oil” and refused to move to the Free Speech Zone at a fundraiser in Columbia, S.C. at which President Bush was speaking. The Free Speech Zone was located half a mile away from the fundraiser. He was arrested for trespassing, and when those charges were dropped (South Carolina does not allow prosecution for trespassing on public property) a federal prosecutor jumped in to charge him with breaking another law: the Threats to the President statute. Bursey’s arguments that the area in which he was standing was not clearly laid out according to the requirements of the law (it would’ve had to be clearly defined, and with a single entrance point), and that other folks (pro-Bush demonstrators) were also inside the space did not get him off the hook. He was convicted. Law enforcement officials were thrilled, saying “If Bursey’s prosecution holds, we have another dozen cases” across the country. Are we so afraid of terrorists that we can’t afford free speech?
In summary, the policies and legislation under President Bush have been deeply detrimental to this society. We have become a more divided, rather than unified country. We have less reason to trust our government than ever before, even if the reason for this is “bad information” and “mistakes”, rather than deviousness on the part of our administrators. The fanaticism which has fueled the War on Terror has not helped to capture terrorists, but instead served to oppress freedom and dialog in our own nation.
-The Constitution and Bill of Rights; http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html
-The Patriot Act; http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html
-U.S. Code; http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/
-Free Speech Zones; http://www.amconmag.com/12_15_03/feature.html; http://homepage.ntlworld.com/jksonc/docs/bursey-docket-dsc-03cr309.html
-Patriot Act Violations; http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0721-01.htm; http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/24433prs20060308.html
-Section 213 stats; http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2005/April/05_opa_160.htm
-Youngston Sheet and Tube v. Sawyer; http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/facts/democrac/59.htm
-Patriot Act analysis; http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?52+Duke+L.+J.+179; http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/Terrorism/20011031_eff_usa_patriot_analysis.html; http://action.aclu.org/reformthepatriotact/215.html; http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_hr/091002transcript.html
-9/11 “report card”; http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:dx-k7ChcU1kJ:www.9-11pdp.org/press/20051205_report.pdf+Final+Report+Card+on+9/11+Commission+Recommendations&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1&client=firefox-a
-EPIC FOIA documents; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2005/10/23/AR2005102301352.html
-Cluster Bombs; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2005/10/23/AR2005102301352.html, et al.
-Feith on Strategic Information; http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2002/t02232002_t0220dwg.html
-Rumsfeld on Strategic Information; http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2002/t11212002_t1118sd2.html
-Ridge on Terror Alerts; http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8813.htm