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News ::
Your papers.....please. (english)
04 Mar 2003
This giant step into the police state of Fortress America, if passed by congress, would put the U.S. in step with those dark totalitarian regimes familiar to North Americans mostly through movies, but all too familiar to people from places like, well… Iraq!
Suppose I told you that certain parties in the U.S. government are making plans to strip you of your citizenship if you do not behave like a good American? Suppose I said these people want to deport such non-citizens or, failing that, round them up and imprison them at some secret location without recourse to a lawyer? You might think I’m some sort of raving paranoid, or that perhaps I’ve watched too many of those films with surly German guys in leather trench coats demanding to see some poor citizen’s papers, right?
No, I’m talking real world here and the name of the game is the yet to be introduced Domestic Security Enhancement Act, or if you will: Son of the “Patriot” Act. This giant step into the police state of Fortress America, if passed by congress, would put the U.S. in step with those dark totalitarian regimes familiar to North Americans mostly through movies, but all too familiar to people from places like, well… Iraq! I’d like to say that Son of “Patriot” looks like a story line from some Orwellian nightmare like “1984”, that it puts the real in surreal, and that Big Brother is alive and well at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue where far-right fanatics like John Ashcroft cook up seemingly endless schemes to rid you of your constitutional rights and mold you into some sort of prayerful consumer automaton. All that would be true of course, but it’s worse than that.
Georgetown law professor, David Cole notes this about Justice Department dreams of disappearing pesky U.S. citizens in the recent issue of The Nation:

“A US citizen stripped of his citizenship and ordered deported would presumably have nowhere to go. But another provision [of Son of “Patriot”] authorizes the Attorney General to deport persons "to any country or region regardless of whether the country or region has a government." And failing deportation to Somalia (or a similar place), the Justice Department has issued a regulation empowering it to detain indefinitely suspected terrorists who are ordered deported but cannot be removed because they are stateless or their country of origin refuses to take them back. “

So, perhaps Son of the “Patriot” Act is not so much like an Orwell story line as it is one conjured up by Kafka on a bad night. The emperor’s minions strip you of your U.S. citizenship, say for organizing protests in opposition to state policy or being just a little too critical of the Bush regime in your e-mails or phone calls, then banish you to some far-off sketchy place that refuses you entry. Since you are then a stateless person fitting the already legislated definition of “terrorist” (see “Patriot” I) you can be imprisoned indefinitely in an undisclosed location, most likely without a lawyer. Like a mobius strip in a funhouse mirror, your existence within your country of origin, your.., ahem, …homeland, becomes the plaything of stupid white men, people who were not elected and who have more-or-less overthrown the U.S. government and established a plutocratic theocracy. Like inquisitors of old, they throw you in the deep water, if you float you’re a witch and must be destroyed, if you drown, well, perhaps you weren’t a witch but hey, who can be certain?

This is it, dear reader: all those imagined fears of midnight poundings on the door, the roundups, the camps, the shunning, the betrayals, all the trappings of the McCarthy era writ large and magnified ten-fold, could become the chilling and disastrous reality. This time around, with the Bush regime and its corporate handlers entrenched in your nation’s capitol, the McCarthy era would look like a cakewalk. We are, as Bush the elder once said on another matter: in deep do-do. Some legislative outrage like Son of the “Patriot” Act could actually pass in the House of Representatives filled as it is with frothing-at-the-mouth right-wingers with zero respect for the Bill of Rights and not a whole lot going on between the ears. If the heretofore spineless Democrat poseurs in the Senate can’t muster the will and wherewithal to stop this death blow to the Constitution in its tracks, even if it should reach the floor in the midst of some curiously timed national crisis (like its predecessor), you and your left-of-center friends and family might just as well start looking for false-bottom wardrobes and late-night flights in small planes on fog-bound airstrips. Sound extreme and overblown? Read the text yourself. I’m just the messenger. One thing’s for sure, if those Democrats and a good portion of mainstream America don’t feel the chill from Son of the “Patriot” Act or the heat from activists trying to drive a stake in its dark heart, we’re all in for a very bleak future.

See also:
http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/patriot2-hi.pdf
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