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Friday, June 25, 2010

Patriot Act is unpatriotic

From Wichita Peace and Freedom Party Examiner:

Since 9/11, The US has pushed for extremely repressive, anti-freedom and anti-democratic acts, under the label “The Patriot Act.” Now the Supreme Court has upheld the George Bush government’s attack on international political connections, according to Kasama Project . Seriously repressive government moves, launched in the name of anti-terrorism, criminalize “material support” for groups on the government’s terrorists lists. Now the Supreme Court has upheld this dangerous policy.
This act is a direct violation of freedom of speech. For example, one of these acts allows the government to arrest people for expressing support for organizations that our elected leaders have listed on a “terrorists” list. The problem with this list is that it is up to government officials to decide who is a terrorist and who is not lacking any clear cut guidelines or definitions. With the exception of Al-Qaeda who has actually attack the US directly, most groups are simply armed parties or militias that simply disagree with our government’s foreign policy.
No pro-life group has actually been added to this list even though such groups as the Army of God have aided and encouraged attacks on American citizens. On the other hand, groups that have not attacked any Americans who have given up armed actions and actually won elections, such as The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) remain listed as a terrorist group.
And how do they decide who a terrorist is? It is entirely up to them. Any government or foreign organization they are at odds with the US can be labelled “terrorist” and those who might sympathies or agree with them can be put in jail for supporting terrorists.
Some other problems with this act are the definition of “material support.” This has been radically widened (both by government assertion, and now by Supreme Court decision). Material support could include offering such groups “expert” advice (possible examples: sharing simple advice on law, on translation, on websites). Again, there are no clear guidelines on what makes a person supportive of terrorism.
There are a number of reasons a person might sympathize with a political party from another part of the world. They may have ethnic roots, such as a person with parents still living in the Gaza. Hamas has been labelled a terrorist group and yet it has won an election and is the recognized leadership of the Gaza.
Some people may have political sympathies with parties such as the communist parties in Nepal. These parties pose no threat to the US at all. They have never made any threats against the US and want only to improve conditions in Nepal.
So far the law has been used against people who have had connections to Islamic persons, such as Faisal Shahzad who tried to set off a bomb in Time Square. However, there is nothing to stop our government officials from using torture on people who may simply know Shahzad, but have no knowledge of what he was planning to do. Some Muslems have already been interrogated simply for their religious beliefs.
While this has not been a problem for the majority of the population, things could change for the worse. If the war in Afghanistan goes badly, this act could be used as a tool against legitimate opposition. Such arrests were made at the Republican convention in Minnesota in August of 2008. Such politically motivated arrests are a violation of the US constitution and no “act,” patriotic or otherwise, can legitimately over-ride our constitution.
There is nothing patriotic about the Patriot Act.

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