Civil libertarians are noting with unease how Washington is whitewashing the law’s impact with unimpeachably popular nick-names.
Concealing the sinister aspects of a new bill with a heart-warming name is nothing new. Americans have already learned to equate “Agricultural Reform” with farm subsidy, “Equal Opportunity” with glass ceilings, and “Family Values” with systematic class discrimination.
The PATRIOT Act already expands unnecessary surveillance and other police powers that threaten civil liberties, across a broad front of ordinary America.
The PATRIOT Act does so many things it’s hard to keep track of. According to tonight’s San Francisco Chronicle, we can already: “engage in secret surveillance, phone and Internet monitoring, and searches of personal records with little or no judicial review.” We can use roving wiretaps, secret record searches, dentention and deportation of noncitizens, monitoring of religious institutions, and we can make sure that only US citizens get to screen our persons and baggage at airports.
Ashcroft points out that “Patriot” only extends to the rest of America the tools we gave law enforcement decades ago to fight organized crime and druglords. To be fair to the others, so to speak.
It’s getting worse. And so are the naming conventions.
The “VICTORY Act”. This new John Ashcroft/Orrin Hatch bill will make some drug offenses a terrorist crime, allow expanded questioning of people and demanding or seizing personal documents without court order, wiretap without a court order, and expand the use of the death penalty. This bill will reintroduce parts of the leaked PATRIOT Act II that were rejected from the original PATRIOT Act drafts.
Our nominees for future legislation:
The PEOPLE FIRST Act: Instead of divisive classifications like “citizen”, “resident” and “illegal alien”, non-government people will be classified and documented as “civilian, registered”, “civilian, alien” or “unrecognized”.
The BACK TO BASICS Act will strip all remaining rights from everybody, making Constitutional rights a privilege once and for all, not an automatic right. People will finally get to start from scratch, tabula rasa. Domestic civilians will not need to bother our pretty little heads with silly nonsense we have no further use for. People who can establish “sufficient cause” may apply for pre-set basic levels of liberty (probably via tear-out coupon books), through Tom Ridge’s Homeland Security.
The FREEDOM FROM PAPERWORK Act will ensure that when the government asks you for your “papers” and travelling documents, and any $5/hour petty official does not like them, they can be summarily confiscated.
The FREEDOM OF INFORMATION Act is being revised to correct an oversight. Formerly, citizens could require the government to surrender documents in their dossier. Now, as originally intended, it will be the other way around.
The SMOKY THE BEAR Act will guarantee all registered civilians have equal opportunity access to jobs, fresh air and health care at free government labor camps, in a desert near you.
The FAMILY VACATION ENTITLEMENT Act will fund the free railroad cars that transport eligible civilians to the labor camps.
The BAMBI AND THUMPER Act will allow the government to torture and dismember household pets as needed to elicit the voluntary cooperation of citizens in implementing the new government rights.
The DIF’RENT STROKES Act will merely extend to the rest of the family the tools which we give law enforcement for dealing with suspect household pets.
© September 25, 2003
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