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Patriot Act: Good or Bad?


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Tonight while decorating the tree with the TV on, a news segment came on with a clip of Bush giving a speech defending his order for the NSA eavesdropping. Before I could get to the remote control to hit the mute button and change channels (luckily I didn't knock over the tree), I heard Bush say "We have to be fast on our feet."

"We have to be fast on our feet." This administration's supply of Orwellian newspeak is inexhaustible. Bush was really fast on his feet on the morning of 9/11, wasn't he, after being told America was under attack? We all remember him sitting there in that reading lesson for 7 minutes or so, never once using his feet to go see what was happening and what was being done or needed to be done.

And Donald Rumsfeld, the other half of the Defense Command Authority, was really fast on his feet too that morning, wasn't he? After being told that the second plane had hit the WTC, he just sat in his office listening to his daily CIA briefer as usual, till his own building got hit. Then, instead of going to the National Military Command Center, as one might expect a Sec of Defense to do when the nation is under attack, to see what was known, what was happening, what was being done, etc., he goes outside and walks around and plays medic, while the NMCC staff is trying to find him. He finally walks into the NMCC about 10:30 am, after they've looked for him for almost an hour. The Defense Command Authority during the terrorist attacks of 9/11 was really fast on its feet.

I would also mention how General Myers, Acting Chairman of the JCS that morning, sat and did nothing instead of being fast on his feet during the attacks, but the point is, there seems to have been a conspicuous team effort by those at the top of the nation's defense during the attacks to NOT be fast on their feet. (To be fast on their feet would involve being confronted with information and having to take some kind of action accordingly.) But now, when it behooves him, Bush justifies illegal spying on U.S. citizens, in the name of fighting terrorism, by saying "We have to be fast on our feet."

The shameless hypocrisy is sickening, but it's just the kind of crap that I expect to hear out of this president, which is why I risked knocking over the tree tonight to try to avoid hearing or seeing him. I wasn't quite quick enough, or fast on my feet, and as you can see I'm still not over it.

Well thankfully Ron....

we are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.
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Hi John,

I really don't have a particularly academic answer to the final question you pose.

I was born when Nixon was president. I don't remember a time in my comparatively short life when ANYONE trusted our government. I think many of the more experienced posters here will remember a time when good ideas and character were more important than good finances and good connections regarding WHO says WHAT occurs in our country WITH the support of it's people.

I grew up on sound bytes and apathy.

You're not American. I don't expect you to know what it's like to live KNOWING that accepting the step by step rejection of our own constitution is not a patriotic act. Probably appears to all of you that Johnny Rotten has sat down for tea with the queen.

The mistake our leaders make is the belief that only a small minority of Americans reject the prelude to and continuation of this war and that we are unable to recognize when we are being controlled.

When historians write of this era, don't discount the possibility of another Boston type "Tea party" internally.

As long as those that still care have a voice, greed and fear will not define what America will become..

Jason Vermeer

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When historians write of this era, don't discount the possibility of another Boston type "Tea party" internally. As long as those that still care have a voice, greed and fear will not define what America will become...

I agree with the member who asserted that 9-11 was the historical equivalent of the Reichstag fire. It would be difficult to overstate the degree of concern that is currently warranted. For things to be worse than my most paranoid imagining is no small matter. I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Goebbels and Orwell had nothing on this bunch.

T.C.

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What do Americans think about this development?
Hi John,

I really don't have a particularly academic answer to the final question you pose.

I was born when Nixon was president. I don't remember a time in my comparatively short life when ANYONE trusted our government. I think many of the more experienced posters here will remember a time when good ideas and character were more important than good finances and good connections regarding WHO says WHAT occurs in our country WITH the support of it's people.

I grew up on sound bytes and apathy.

You're not American. I don't expect you to know what it's like to live KNOWING that accepting the step by step rejection of our own constitution is not a patriotic act. Probably appears to all of you that Johnny Rotten has sat down for tea with the queen.

The mistake our leaders make is the belief that only a small minority of Americans reject the prelude to and continuation of this war and that we are unable to recognize when we are being controlled.

When historians write of this era, don't discount the possibility of another Boston type "Tea party" internally.

As long as those that still care have a voice, greed and fear will not define what America will become..

Jason Vermeer

It is true I am not an American. However, I take these developments very seriously. When you live in the shadow of a superpower you take a keen interest on political developments in the United States. We have a saying in the UK that when the United States sneezes, the British catch a cold.”

The UK did not follow the US example when JFK was assassinated. We continued to remove our leaders by democratic means.

When LBJ sent large number of troops into Vietnam, Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister, despite the threat of economic consequences, refused to follow the US example.

When Richard Nixon ordered members of Operation Gemstone and Operation Sandwedge to break the law in order to sabotage his opponents attempts to gain power, we continued to rely on the democratic process.

However, this has all changed under Tony Blair. Unlike previous prime ministers, he has sacrificed our independence in order to slavishly follow the instructions of George Bush’s masters.

Blair, like Bush, has used the fear of terrorism to restrict the rights of UK citizens. Recently, politicians have blocked measures proposed by Blair to hold citizens for 90 days without charge.

Yet polls suggest that around 80% of the UK supported Blair’s proposals. The reason being is that the public have been persuaded that this measure is vital in the fight against terrorism. I suppose the key factor is that the British people do not think this measure could be applied to them. They think, I am not a Muslim so the police will not think I am a terrorist. Therefore, I am safe from being arrested without trial.

However, there are two pieces of legislation that Blair has got through Parliament. For example, Maya Evans was arrested for reading the names of civilians and soldiers killed in Iraq outside the gates of 10 Downing Street. She was charged under the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act (2005). This act makes it illegal to protest within 1km of Parliament Square without police authorisation. Currently we have 20 cases awaiting trial for this offence.

John Catt, an 80 year old RAF veteran was recently arrested under the Terrorism Act (2000). His offence, according to the charge sheet was that he was “carrying a placard” and “wearing a T-shirt with anti-Blair info”. A recent radio phone-in suggested that this is happening all the time.

At the last Labour Party conference, Walter Wolfgang, 82, a veteran party member who fled Nazi Germany, was bundled out of the conference hall after shouting “nonsense” as Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, defended Britain’s role in Iraq”. When he tried to re-enter, he was stopped and detained under the Terrorism Act.

At virtually every political demonstration that takes place in the UK, people are detained under the Terrorism Act. Isabelle Ellis-Cockcroft was only 11 when she was stopped and searched when she took part in a demonstration outside Fairford air base in Gloucestershire. Others were forced back on their coaches by the police and the drivers were forced to drive back to London. Another 120 protestors were detained for nearly 3 hours without arrest (a breach of the Human Rights Act).

In May of this year, Lindis Percy, a 61 year old veteran of the peace movement, was electronically tagged and ordered to stay indoors in the evenings under another new piece of Blair legislation, the Anti-Social Behaviour Act. This was all done to make sure Lindis did not hold protests outside US military bases.

Another piece of proposed legislation concerns the “glorification” of terrorism. It has not been made clear what this actually means. Another proposal is to make it illegal to “ridicule religion”. I suppose it is only a matter of time before we follow the examples of Hitler and Stalin and make it illegal to ridicule political leaders.

Under the Public Order Act the police are forced to investigate anyone who says something that a member of the public objects to. If found guilty, the person is forced to apologise and to undergo “training”. Recently a woman was questioned by the police under this act after claiming on the radio that it was a bad idea to place boys for adoption with two homosexual men.

Tony Blair is a dead man walking. It is only a matter of time before he is removed from office. The question is, how much permanent damage will he do to our basic freedoms before he goes.

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Guest Stephen Turner

"Ozymandius, king of Egypt" Percy Byshee Shelly.

I MET A TRAVELLER FROM AN ANTIQUE LAND, WHO SAID.

TWO VAST AND TRUNKLESS LEGS OF STONE STAND IN THE DESSERT

NEAR THEM, ON THE SAND, HALF SUNK, A SHATTERED VISAGE LIES,

WHOSE FROWN, AND WRINKLED LIP AND SNEER OF COLD COMMAND,

TELL THAT ITS SCULPTOR WELL THOSE PASSIONS READ, WHICH YET SURVIVE,

STAMPED ON THESE LIFELESS THINGS

THE HAND THAT MOCKED THEM, AND THE HEART THAT FED,

AND ON THE PEDESTAL, THESE WORDS APPEAR

"MY NAME IS OZYMANDIUS, KING OF KINGS, LOOK ON MY WORKS YE MIGHTY AND DESPAIR"

NOTHING BESIDE REMAINS ROUND THE DECAY OF THAT COLOSAL WRECK,

BOUNDLESS, AND BARE THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS STRETCH FAR AWAY.........

Edited by Stephen Turner
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Under the Public Order Act the police are forced to investigate anyone who says something that a member of the public objects to. If found guilty, the person is forced to apologise and to undergo “training”. Recently a woman was questioned by the police under this act after claiming on the radio that it was a bad idea to place boys for adoption with two homosexual men.

Yikes, this one's a bit looney. Don't you guys have any murders to investigate? Your Talk Radio must be awfully tame by U.S. standards.

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Under the Public Order Act the police are forced to investigate anyone who says something that a member of the public objects to. If found guilty, the person is forced to apologise and to undergo “training”. Recently a woman was questioned by the police under this act after claiming on the radio that it was a bad idea to place boys for adoption with two homosexual men.

Yikes, this one's a bit looney. Don't you guys have any murders to investigate? Your Talk Radio must be awfully tame by U.S. standards.

Everyone has heard the adage 'A picture is worth a thousand words' yet music also has the capability to touch 'hearts and minds' as well. I wanted to post these lyrics from a Stevie Wonder song from the Nixon Era to ask 'does this ring a bell in 2005?'

"You Haven't Done Nothing"

We are amazed but not amused

By all the things you say that you'll do

Though much concerned but not involved

With decisions that are made by you

But we are sick and tired of hearing your song

Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong

'Cause if you really want to hear our views

"You haven't done nothing"!

It's not too cool to be ridiculed

But you brought this upon yourself

The world is tired of pacifiers

We want the truth and nothing else

And we are sick and tired of hearing your song

Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong

'Cause if you really want to hear our views

"You haven't done nothing"!

We would not care to wake up to the nightmare

That's becoming real life

But when mislead who knows a person's mind

Can turn as cold as ice un hum

Why do you keep on making us hear your song

Telling us how you are changing right from wrong

'Cause if you really want to hear our views

"You haven't done nothing"!

Yeah

Doo doo wop

Doo doo wop - oh

Doo doo wop - co co co

Doo doo wop - sing it baby

Doo doo wop - bum bum bum

Doo doo wop - um

Sing it loud for your people say

Doo doo wop - um um um

Doo doo wop - stand up be counted, say

Doo doo wop......

"President Bush is to conservatives what the FOX Network is to news"

Edited by Robert Howard
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When you live in the shadow of a superpower you take a keen interest on political developments in the United States. We have a saying in the UK that when the United States sneezes, the British catch a cold.”

I like what the Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz said about his own country: "Poor Mexico. So far from God, and so close to the United States."

Blair, like Bush, has used the fear of terrorism to restrict the rights of UK citizens.

Blair has also announced that there will be no public inquiry into 7/7. This is following the 9/11 script exactly, as both Bush and Cheney called Tom Daschle of the Senate a few days after the 9/11 attacks, asking that there be no hearings on the attacks because it would divert resources from the "war on terror." That's the same excuse Blair is using. Bush eventually had to give in and allow the 9/11 Commission under pressure from victims' families. The British, from what stories I have seen in the British press, have reacted more strongly to Blair's announcement than the American sheeple did to Bush's strong aversion to an investigation, so perhaps Blair too may have to give in and let questions be asked. But IMO the basic reason why Bush and Blair have not wanted public inquiries into the slaughters in their respective countries is identical.

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BBC Report:

President George W Bush has admitted he authorised secret monitoring of communications within the United States in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks.

The monitoring was of "people with known links to al-Qaeda and related terrorist organisations", he said.

He said the programme was reviewed every 45 days, and he made clear he did not plan to halt the eavesdropping.

He also rebuked senators who blocked the renewal of his major anti-terror law, the Patriot Act, on Friday.

By preventing the extension of the act, due to expire on 31 December, they had, he said, acted irresponsibly and were endangering the lives of US citizens.

The president, who was visibly angry, also suggested that a New York Times report which had revealed the monitoring on Friday had been irresponsible.

America's enemies had "learned information they should not have", he said in his weekly radio address, which was delivered live from the White House after a pre-recorded version was scrapped.

Senators from both Mr Bush's Republican party and the opposition Democrats expressed concerns about the monitoring programme on Friday.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there was no doubt it was "inappropriate", adding that Senate hearings would be held early next year as "a very, very high priority".

"This is Big Brother run amok," was the reaction of Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy.

Senator Russell Feingold, another Democrat, called it a "shocking revelation" that "ought to send a chill down the spine of every senator and every American".

But in his address on Saturday, Mr Bush said the programme was "critical to saving American lives".

The president said some of the 11 September hijackers inside the US had communicated with associates outside before the attacks - but the US had not known that until it was too late.

"The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and our civil liberties," he said.

Monitoring was, he said, a "vital tool in our war against the terrorists".

He said Congressional leaders had been briefed on the programme, which he has already renewed more than 30 times.

Mr Bush harshly criticised the leak that had made the programme public.

"Revealing classified information is illegal. It alerts our enemies," he said.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Mr Bush had signed a secret presidential order following the attacks on 11 September 2001, allowing the National Security Agency to track the international telephone calls and e-mails of hundreds of people without referral to the courts.

Previously, surveillance on American soil was generally limited to foreign embassies.

American law usually requires a secret court, known as a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to give permission before intelligence officers can conduct surveillance on US soil.

What do Americans think about this development?

******************************************************************

Deleted by T. Mauro due to article printed in full and posted here without editor's permission.

Edited by Terry Mauro
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Who once argued that that the president has "inherent authority" to order physical searches — including break-ins at the homes of U.S. citizens — for foreign intelligence purposes without any warrant or permission from any outside body?

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My question: do you see any parallels between the Kennedys end-run around the CIA with the Special Group and Bush's similar? end-run in 2003, when the neo-cons ran the Iraq intelligence out of the Pentegon?

There is a very interesting dynamic between President Bush's conflicts with the CIA, and President Kennedy's. On the surface, it appears that President Bush has succeeded in taming the CIA, exactly what President Kennedy attempted to do, and which cost him his life. Yet: the political positions have been reversed. The political position of the CIA during President Kennedy's time - supported by the Pentagon, (what Jim Garrison called "the War Machine") was for a ground war, if not in Cuba, then, better yet, in Vietnam. That President Kennedy would not support that ground war, in large part because he was opposed to the deficit that would result, played a large role in his demise, along with his opposition to the extraordinary powers being exercised by the CIA. Students might be interested in the fact that President Eisenhower defined "national security" as, in part, avoiding a huge deficit and a bankrupted economy.

The CIA by the time of the current President had a policy much more similar to the cautious views of President Kennedy. It discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and said so. It warned against a protracted Occupation in Iraq; it recognized that an American invasion in Iraq would result in a civil war....Because President Bush was furthering pro-war policies similar to those advanced by the CIA in President Kennedy's time, he shattered the CIA into the thousand pieces - exactly what President Kennedy had threatened to do. The clandestine service was eviscerated. The Director of Central Intelligence no longer was to meet with the President on a daily basis and a Director of National Intelligence was appointed. The Pentagon of course remains the same in its furthering the interests of what President Eisenhower warned against, the military-industrial complex.

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It seems in selling the Patriot Act Bush has offered apparently contradictory statements about judicial oversight of these searches. In these remarks he seems to be saying that the Patriot Act powers are carefully monitored. His recent remarks, as far as I can tell, say the opposite.

Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. 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. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

White House

Q -- coming next year. And I find that an important tool for protecting America. And in Wisconsin here, we have Senator Russ Feingold, as you're aware, the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act. Wondering if you can tell us all here the importance of the Patriot Act and what we can do to help get that renewed.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me -- that's a great question. A couple of things that are very important for you to understand about the Patriot Act. First of all, any action that takes place by law enforcement requires a court order. In other words, the government can't move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order.

Now, we've used things like roving wiretaps on drug dealers before. Roving wiretaps mean you change your cell phone. And yet, we weren't able to use roving wiretaps on terrorists. And so what the Patriot Act said is let's give our law enforcement the tools necessary, without abridging the Constitution of the United States, the tools necessary to defend America.

President's Remarks at Ask President Bush Event

I'll tell you another good thing that happened. Before September the 11th, investigators had better tools to fight organized crime than to fight international terrorism. That was the reality. For years, law enforcement used so-called roving wire taps to investigate organized crime. You see, what that meant is if you got a wire tap by court order -- and, by the way, everything you hear about requires court order, requires there to be permission from a FISA court, for example.

President Bush Calls for Renewing the USA PATRIOT Act

The Patriot Act is helping America defeat our enemies while safeguarding civil liberties for all our people. The judicial branch has a strong oversight role in the application of the Patriot Act. Under the act, law enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone or search his property. Congress also oversees our use of the Patriot Act. Attorney General Gonzales delivers regular reports on the Patriot Act to the House and the Senate.

President's Radio Address

The Patriot Act Helps Law Enforcement Fight Terrorism While Safeguarding Civil Liberties For All Americans. The judicial branch has a strong oversight role in the application of the Patriot Act. Law enforcement officers must seek a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone, track his calls, or search his property. These strict standards are fully consistent with the Constitution. Congress also oversees the application of the Patriot Act, and in more than three years there has not been a single verified abuse.

Fact Sheet: Giving Law Enforcement the Tools They Need to Safeguard Our Homeland

Finally, we need to renew the critical provisions of the Patriot Act that protect our civil liberties. The Patriot Act was written with clear safeguards to ensure the law is applied fairly. The judicial branch has a strong oversight role. Law enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone, a federal judge's permission to track his calls, or a federal judge's permission to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of these tools. And these standards are fully consistent with the Constitution of the U.S.

Congress also oversees the application of the Patriot Act. Congress has recently created a federal board to ensure that the Patriot Act and other laws respect privacy and civil liberties. And I'll soon name five talented Americans to serve on that board. Attorney General Gonzales delivers regular reports on the Patriot Act to the House and the Senate, and the Department of Justice has answered hundreds of questions from members of Congress. One Senator, Dianne Feinstein of California, has worked with civil rights groups to monitor my administration's use of the Patriot Act. Here's what she said: "We've scrubbed the area, and I have no reported abuses." Remember that the next time you hear someone make an unfair criticism of this important, good law. The Patriot Act has not diminished American liberties; the Patriot Act has helped to defend American liberties.

President Discusses Patriot Act

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An article in today's Guardian suggests that Bush's poll-ratings have gone up since it was announced that he had ordered illegal spying on the American public (approval ratings have gone up from 39% to 47%).

The same thing happened when Blair was trying to get the 90 day without charge legislation through Parliament.

The problem is that most American and British citizens are unconcerned by the idea of their freedoms being taken away. In fact, it makes Blair and Bush more popular because they believe they are taking action to protect them from terrorism.

As Eric Fromm pointed out a long time ago, if you are brought up in an authoritarian system, you create a fear of freedom.

http://allpsych.com/personalitysynopsis/fromm.html

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An article in today's Guardian suggests that Bush's poll-ratings have gone up since it was announced that he had ordered illegal spying on the American public (approval ratings have gone up from 39% to 47%).

The same thing happened when Blair was trying to get the 90 day without charge legislation through Parliament.

The problem is that most American and British citizens are unconcerned by the idea of their freedoms being taken away. In fact, it makes Blair and Bush more popular because they believe they are taking action to protect them from terrorism.

Over the last few years people have responded to the leadership of Bush and Blair by becoming afraid of freedom.

The polls also reflect that whenever Bush speaks to the Nation, his numbers jump. A certain percentage of dolts out there just like it whenever he talks to us, down-home style, and tells us what he's doing to protect our pathetic sheltered lives. It's the IDEA of him, more than his words, that they like. They also feel protective of him--whenever the evil liberal media begins to team up on him, they rally round him. Can't have another Nixon. Can't have another Nam. Ultimately, as soon as he stops blabbing, and the media onslaught dies down, Bush's numbers will spiral downwards once again. I predict.

There is also the strong likelihood Bush' numbers are cooked. There've been quite a few revelations in recent years on how polls can be manipulated, and I'm sure that Rove knows all the tricks.

Edited by Pat Speer
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