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A US Gestapo?

Nancy Miller Saunders

March 6, 2006

Congress is about to renew the USA PATRIOT Act. After the act was first passed in 2001, members of Congress excused away their votes by saying they didn't have time to study it and were still under the influence of 9/11 shock. By now, they have had ample time to study it, and even to examine "improvements" added to the bill, such as section 3056A.

Others have had the time, like the author of the following.

            A provision in the "PATRIOT Act" creates a new federal police force with the power to violate the Bill of Rights. . .

            Go to House Report 109-33 USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and check it out for yourself. Sec. 605 reads: 'There is hereby created and established a permanent police force to be known as the "United States Secret Service Uniformed Division."'(1)

When my trusty friend Troll first forwarded this story to me, I believed the author, who noted, "We can take for granted that the new federal police will be used to suppress dissent and to break up opposition. The brownshirts are now arming themselves with a Gestapo."(2)

I believed because I have, unfortunately, good reasons to believe some presidential administrations work to erase the Bill of Rights and the freedoms that make this nation great. My reasons reach back to my childhood and the McCarthy witch-hunts, when even the neighbor woman I stayed with after school was targeted.

But my training as a scientist's daughter made me step back from paranoia's slippery slope and think, "Wait a minute. I need to check this out before I will accept this story as really and truly so." I sincerely hoped that Troll had been suckered by a hoax or by someone blowing a few out-of-context details into a paranoid fantasy -- the way the Swift Boat Vets did with bits of John Kerry's background during the 2004 election.

I knew that, like me, Troll has reasons to expect the worst from the Bush cabal. Neither of us needs much evidence to believe a story like this one. But there is a difference between believing and knowing. For example, a woman knows that a baby is hers. Her husband only believes it is his. I like to know.

Troll's reasons to believe the worst go back at least to the Nixon administration (about the time I met him), when we antiwar activists were the "terrorists," no matter how peaceful we were in our opposition to the Vietnam War. Both of us were put under surveillance similar to what the Bush administration is doing today in the guise of protecting the American people. We have personally experienced police and intelligence agents invading our homes, tapping our phones, following us, jailing us, sending informers to spy on us while pretending to be our friends, fabricating charges against us or our dearest friends, and so on. No fun.

But neither is paranoia. So I did my homework and learned for myself that what amounts to the United States Gestapo is in the works.

The information I was looking for is overlooked behind the media hype about NSA's wiretapping of US citizens and is buried in legislative legalese. House Report 109-33 USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 Section 605 refers to an "improvement" in the USA PATRIOT Act, section 3056A, which is to be inserted into title 18 United States Code, chapter 203, following section 3056, and appears to repeal title 3 U.S.C., chapter 3. Trying to sort it all out made me dizzy.

Then, when I was at my dizziest, I finally ran across a news item that read, "A new provision tucked into the Patriot Act bill now before Congress would allow authorities to haul demonstrators at any 'special event of national significance' away to jail on felony charges if they are caught breaching a security perimeter."(3)

This item wasn't in any of the more liberal of our "liberal media." It was from Fox News, which helped convince me that, sad to say, this story is for real. And the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division (SSUD) may already be operational.

It was under such an authority that Cindy Sheehan was arrested at a "special event of national significance" -- Bush's State of the Union sales pitch -- for wearing a T-shirt that gave the number of US fatalities in Iraq, including her own son. Despite misleading reports designed to discredit her, Sheehan did not make a spectacle of either herself or her T-shirt. And she was an invited guest (though not by the Bush cabal). Another example of a "special event of national significance" was the Super Bowl even though no top administration officials, who are guarded by the Secret Service, were expected to attend.(4)

According to the new bill, officers of the Secret Service Uniform Division will "carry firearms" (sec. 3056A (b)(1)(A)) and be authorized to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony" (sec. 3056A (b)(1)(B)).

What constitutes "reasonable grounds" is not specified, which leaves them up to the discretion, prejudice, and mood of the officers. Another woman, the wife of a congressman, was also removed from the Capitol gallery before Bush's speech because she wore a T-shirt. Hers said, "Support the Troops." If wearing a T-shirt is "reasonable grounds" to remove or arrest someone before 3056A has been enacted, I shudder to think what the Bush cabal will do with it once it becomes law.

But can we expect any better from a president who came into office in 2000 in an unprecedented, and probably an illegal, manner? Jeffrey Toobin studied that election and concluded -- after all the legal votes were finally counted -- "Al Gore should have been declared the victor over George Bush -- in the popular vote, in Florida, and in the Electoral College."(5) In other words, We the People elected Al Gore, but got stuck with Bush.

Florida state law specifically stated that "no vote shall be declared invalid or void if there is a clear indication of the intent of the voter."(6) That was the prevailing law, so Bush v. Gore should have gone no higher than the Florida State Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled to let the counting of ballots continue.

But the Bush cabal went whining to the U.S. Supreme Court and convinced five of the nine justices to stop the count. Judicial conservative Terrance Sandalow called this "incomprehensible" and an "unmistakably partisan decision, without any foundation in law."(7)

Aren't Republicans the ones who have been campaigning against "activist judges?" Yet stopping the count, thereby giving the election to Bush, was as activist a judicial action as you'll find anywhere.

The GOP is also the party of fiscal conservatives, who keep running up astronomical deficits

The GOP is the party of Homeland Security guards, who let millions of strangers cross our borders illegally every year and who still haven't figured out how to protect our ports from terrorists or hurricanes (remember that "heck of a job" in New Orleans). And now they want to turn control of six of our major ports, including military shipments, to the United Arab Emirates after their pre-emptive war in Iraq and other stupidities have inflamed Muslims against us even in friendly countries.

And the GOP is the party that promised to return morality and virtue to the White House. Yet this self-proclaimed moral administration pushed through Congress a prescription drug plan that denies many US citizens medications their lives depend on and it submitted a budget that cuts essential programs for the needy, while it gives more tax breaks to the wealthy. These moralists rob workers of money they have been investing in Social Security all their working lives and send troops into battle without equipment they need to survive. And so on.

But what else can we expect from a presidency that has defied US laws by jailing US residents for indefinite periods of time, denying them recourse to legal assistance, and eavesdropping on what assistance it does permit? Or from a presidency that smears the reputations of those who publicly disagree with it, and that allows the Pentagon, NSA and FBI to spy on innocent civilians, among other outrages?

What else can we expect from a president who repeatedly said a dictatorship would be a lot easier than a democracy; who has protestors penned in "Free Speech Zones" out of his sight and hearing; who has told the FBI not to follow "a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed"?(8)

What else can we expect from a president who lets his supporters smear the good names and reputations of Senators John McCain, Max Clellan, John Kerry, and Representative John Murtha, as well as those of antiwar Vietnam veterans who served honorably, while Bush and many of his staff and cabinet officers supported but dodged the war?

What else can we expect from a president who ignored warnings about 9/11, then said of it that he had "won the Trifecta" and stonewalled investigations of that horror?

And what can we expect when leaders of the Democratic Party -- the only political party large enough to fight for us against the Bush cabal's assaults on our laws and constitution -- run like a pack of scared rabbits whenever a Republican scowls in their direction, and apologizes when caught speaking up for us?

And what can we expect when the people are more interesting in Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's baby than in what Bush and Cheney are doing to the country and to the world?


1) Paul Craig Roberts, "Antiwar.com - Unfathomed Dangers in PATRIOT Act Reauthorization," January 24, 2006.

2) Ibid.

3) Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, "New Patriot Act Provision Creates Tighter Barrier to Officials at Public Events," Fox News, January 31, 2006.

4) Ibid.

5) Jeffrey Toobin, Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election, Random House, New York, 2001, p. 280. Contrary to often repeated claims, not all of the presidential votes in Florida were counted and recounted. Saying that they were was more Republican smoke and mirrors to convince the general public of a falsehood. Like most dirty tricks, it worked. Gullible people were convinced and blamed Gore for being a bad sport in not conceding that Bush had won Florida and thus the presidency.

6) From Alan M. Dershowitz, Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000, Oxford University Press, New York, 2001, p. 33.

7) Dershowitz, p. 50.

8) Barton Gellman, "The FBI's Secret Scrutiny: In Hunt for Terrorists, Bureau Examines Records of Ordinary Americans," Washington Post, November 6, 2005, p. A1.

Copyright ę 1998-2006 Online Journal

:: Article nr. 21286 sent on 07-mar-2006 04:21 ECT


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