The Assassinated Press
The Enemies Among Us
By MIKE WHITNEY
The Progressive Trail
"Progressive Trail" -- The new Intelligence reform bill is a more stunning attack on the Bill of Rights than the Patriot Act. Most people have no idea how dramatically their "inalienable" rights have been savaged, or to what extent the Congress has sold them out. It's no exaggeration to say that the foundation of personal liberty, guaranteed in the law, is cracking at the base. It'll be a miracle if we can put it back together in time to pass it on to our children.
As usual, the role of the media has been pivotal in obfuscating the details of the bill. They've fed the hysteria over the establishment of a NID; (National Intelligence Director) a glamour position that has been represented as vital to stopping another 9-11. What rubbish. Teaching Condi Rice how to read a simple e-mail from bin Laden would be twice as effective.
The media has done little to expose the real nature of the conflict between the Pentagon and the 9-11 panel. That battle was a straightforward "turf war" that threatened to take a chunk of money away from Rumsfeld, who presently gets 80% of the Intelligence budget. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) defended Rumsfeld by claiming that "battlefield operations" would be endangered if the bill passed. It was nonsensical argument reflective of Hunter's indebtedness to the Defense industry (Dig around the internet and you'll find that Hunter is even more of a corporate streetwalker than most of his peers) As for Rumsfeld, he just wants his $32 billion, so that he can persist in bankrolling his clandestine detention centers, death squads and propaganda facilities (now called strategic intelligence). In reality, Rumsfeld is conducting his own secret government, and has been for some time. That takes money, and lots of it.
The creation of the NID is an appalling idea. It puts all 14 intelligence agencies UNDER A POLITICAL APPOINTEE, which is an invitation for disaster. We all know how corrupted information was before the Iraq war; imagine what it will look like after it travels through the executive sausage-making unit. It's unlikely that anything remotely resembling the truth will ever emerge from the Bush White House.
The new bill creates a new national ID card ("Let me see your papers") by federalizing driver's licenses. The plan is to establish federal guidelines in the design of licenses that can be used as a means for tracking people. These standards are unnecessary unless the government is developing a social strategy that is so heinous that it's bound to generate more enemies. The increased repression and the greater disparity in personal wealth suggest that this is the case.
Democracy Now elaborates on the new national ID: "There's all sorts of new technologies that could be incorporated into the driver's license to link it to all sorts of public and private-sector databases. And you could also imagine putting an RFID chip in the license that would allow it to be tracked remotely. So, this is something the 9/11 commission had actually recommended be done, that the driver's license should be something like an internal passport of the sort that we've seen in the Soviet Union in the past, and although the Congress wasn't willing to explicitly go that far, they have laid the groundwork for that kind of checkpoint society in the future."
Did you hear any complaints from Congress over this hallmark of fascist's regimes?
The Intel bill also creates a "Civil Liberties Board" charged with investigating whether the new legislation adversely affects civil rights.
Regrettably, the board is a complete sham. It has no subpoena power and is subordinate to the NID, the President and the Attorney General. In other words, it's merely a public relations ploy intended to conceal the bill's harsher measures (Undoubtedly, this "Board" will be used by Bush to defend his steadfast concern for civil liberties)
The powers of the FISA court have also been seriously expanded. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act basically allows the secret court to overturn the "probable cause" provision of the 4th Amendment in the investigation of terror suspects. John Ashcroft gravely abused the statute by extending it to the surveillance of identity-theft suspects and drug traffickers (Ashcroft actually boasted to Congress about the success of using the Patriot Act to apprehend criminals who were entirely unrelated to terrorism. He obviously considered the 4th Amendment nothing more than an unnecessary nuisance) Now the law has been expanded to include a "lone wolf" provision; supposedly aimed at an individual terrorist acting without the support of a foreign government. In fact, the purpose of the new provision is to allow unlimited surveillance of any American without the hassle of having to prove even the "remotest" connection to organized terror or a foreign government. It is a "blank check" for law enforcement to eschew all privacy laws without fear of reprimand. It is the end of the 4th amendment.
More importantly, if someone is arrested (as was the case with 1200 Muslims after 9-11) as a terrorist suspect, he can be refused bail and IMPRISONED INDEFINITLY WITHOUT CHARGES. The moniker of "terrorist" trumps the underlying principle of American jurisprudence, that is, the "presumption of innocence" Now, prisoners will have to prove that they aren't guilty; a difficult prospect when there is no process in place to challenge the terms of their detention. Consider the comments of Judge Antonin Scalia in this regard: "The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive."
This sounds like empty rhetoric coming from Scalia, but his point is a valid one. Where arbitrary imprisonment begins, the rule of law ends. American citizens are no longer protected by "inalienable rights"; their safety depends on the discretion of the President.
This brief summary doesn't cover all the repressive elements of the new bill. It does, however, show how personal liberty is being sacrificed to enhance the power of the state. The Intelligence Reform legislation is 615 pages long. Not one was written by either a Senator or a Congressman. This entire campaign to strip Americans of their civil liberties is being orchestrated by private interests; the "silent partners" who wrote this legislation in its entirety. Think about that.
The document that will be signed into law next week is a frontal assault on the fundamental rights of man. Even Habeas Corpus, which goes back 600 years in English law, is struck down.
The enemies of freedom are among us, and they're moving quickly. But, don't take my word for it. Consider the meaning of these attacks on basic rights and make your own judgment.
Copyright: Progressive Trail