15 Years Later: The Patriot Act

15 Years Later: The Patriot Act

Fifteen years ago George W. Bush signed the PATRIOT Act Into Law
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On October 26, 2001, George W. Bush signed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 into law; 15 years ago last Wednesday. Today we know it as the PATRIOT Act. But despite the sound of this act, has it actually made America safer and more secure?

The Patriot Act was designed to be a response to the attacks on September 11, 2001 and the anthrax attacks that followed. The American people were afraid and Congress rushed legislation. The bill was introduced on October 23rd in the House, passed on the 24th and then went to the Senate. In the Senate it passed only a day later. The vote was 98 yeas and 1 nay with one non-vote. 98% approval in a Democratic majority led Senate. An almost unprecedented vote in the U.S. Congress. (The Senate voted 82 yeas and 0 nays when President Roosevelt wanted to declare war on Japan after the attacks on Pearl Harbor.) It is not impossible, but how likely is it that each and every Senator read the entirety of the act within a day? Highly, unlikely as only two amendments were proposed.

Here is how likely it is that every Senator and Representative read it:

Congressman Jim McDermott: “No one read it. That’s the whole point. They wait till the middle of the night, they drop it in the middle of the night, it’s printed in the middle of the night. And the next morning when we come in, it passes.

Congressman John Conyers: “We don’t read most of the bills. Do you really know what that would entail … if we were to read every bill that we passed?” (Fahrenheit 9/11)

So what exactly does the Patriot Act do? Well, the Patriot Act has ten main areas of concern that may give us a hint.

  • Title I: Enhancing domestic security against terrorism
  • Title II: Surveillance procedures
  • Title III: Anti-money-laundering to prevent terrorism
  • Title IV: Border security
  • Title V: Removing obstacles to investigating terrorism
  • Title VI: Victims and families of victims of terrorism
  • Title VII: Increased information sharing for critical infrastructure protection
  • Title VIII: Terrorism criminal law
  • Title IX: Improved intelligence
  • Title X: Miscellaneous

The Patriot Act was a tool George Bush wanted to use in his War on Terrorism. War is defined by Merriam Webster as “a state or period of fighting between countries or groups.” But how can we declare war on an act? Who is the enemy? Anyone that commits terrorism? The War on Terrorism is such a vague term that it allows our governing bodies to expand the war as they see fit. Enhancing domestic security allowed for certain civil liberties to be denied. Surveillance procedures paved the road for the NSA and their mass collection of data from the American people. Border security has not been solved and has driven some to want to build walls and divide nations further instead of working together. By removing “obstacles” to the investigation of terrorism the fourth, fifth and sixth amendments of the Constitution which protect citizens, investigating citizens for any reason of suspicion became easy for government officials to do.

The Patriot Act was passed with built in expiration dates for certain provisions. However, in 2005 parts of the Act were renewed by Congress and then the President. In 2011, President Obama resigned provisions of the Act into law once again, these provisions expire in 2019. The provisions he signed into law are the Roving surveillance authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and the “Lone wolf” provision which states “a target can be considered an ‘agent of a foreign power’ without any evidence that they are acting with a group” (American Bar Association). A target can be considered a foreign agent without ANY evidence; let that sink in.

In 2001, after the Patriot Act passed, government officials were able to monitor and search medical and financial records of citizens. The Constitution Center wrote “As Americans, we’re torn – as our Founders were – between a need for security and a commitment to our liberties. Have we found the right balance? We look to the Constitution for the answers. But the Constitution depends on us as much as we depend on it.” Today this still applies just as much as in did 15 years ago.

My issue with the Patriot Act is not with the intent of it, to protect Americans from terrorists, but instead with how the government applied it to Americans in cases where it did not have any relevance. Here are some examples:

Adam McGaughey, the webmaster of a fan site for the television show Stargate SG-1, was charged with copyright infringement and computer fraud. The FBI used a provision of the Patriot Act to obtain financial records from the site's ISP, internet service provider. In no way were this man’s actions related to terrorism. Yet the government used the act to to obtain information when typically, they would not be permitted to do so. All for copyright infringement. The end result was someone getting punished for a crime, but that means to achieve that end are unjust, something we do not want in our system of government.

The New York Times reported that in 2003 the Patriot Act was being used to investigate potential drug trafficking without probable cause (New York Times). Article One of the U.S. Constitution states: “No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed” (Cornell University). This means that Congress cannot pass a law which deems a specific person or group guilty and then punish them. A law cannot be applied retroactively. By prohibiting an ex post facto law, literal translation is after the fact, it means that the US Congress cannot make any act a crime after the time when that act has been committed. This applies to the Patriot Act because of the ability to name certain crimes or acts as acts of terrorism instead of the legal act or minor crime that is actually seen as in the legal system.

Susan Lindauer is an example of another American that has been oppressed by the Patriot Act. Susan was an antiwar activist who was deemed “an unregistered agent of foreign power” under the “Lone wolf” provision (Department of Justice). Unfortunately, the page is no longer available. After battling the FBI and DOJ for 5 years. The DOJ attempted to forcibly medicate her and institutionalize her for psychotic concerns. Then suddenly on January 16, 2009 the Department of Justice dropped all charges and pending investigations against her stating “prosecuting Lindauer would no longer be in the interests of justice.” Four days before the Bush administration would officially leave the White House.

So far, I have only given examples of injustices against Americans under this Act. Not mentioned above are the egregious crimes against humanity committed at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The Bush administration claimed these were prisoners of war but a study done by Seton Hall Law School concluded that “over 80% of the prisoners were captured not by Americans on the battlefield but by Pakistanis and Afghans, often in exchange for bounty payments” (Huffington Post).

Given the examples above of the implications of the Patriot Act, along with Constitutional law and with the general principles of liberty and freedom that American attempts to uphold, I do not support the Patriot Act because of how it has been applied to Americans and internationals. It is important for the American people to be informed about the actions of the officials they have elected and the level of respect those officials have for the civil rights all people. Days before a critical presidential election we reflect on 15 years of the Patriot Act.

Cover Image Credit: MSNBC

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JFirQekVo3U

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The American Paradox: ​Colonial-Settler Capitalism Vs Native International Federalism

The European Nation-State Structures Supporting Colonial-Settler Systems Towards Capitalism; And The Native American Confederation That Is An Internationalist Collective Towards The Unity Of All The Tribes Of Humanity.

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Throughout the history of the United States there has been two major contradictions: the state apparatuses formed off of the model of European nations, and the federal structure modeled off of the native tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy. While these two systems have evolved side-by-side with one another; there are differences that need to be highlighted. There is a clear connection between the atrocities committed by the European structures that caused the genocide of the native population and the enslavement and forced migration of African populations towards the end goal of profiting economically. There is also a clear connection with the ideals embodied in the federal structure and act of unity designed to integrate and concentrate a multi ethnic, multi cultural structure towards the aim of a transcended system designed to bond human species.

When we look in closer details to this colonial settlers heritage, it has a lot in line with Anglo Saxon superiority, which extended into Anglo American superiority, which we consider today as "white supremacy". This perspective of racial supremacy and ethnic identity has conflicted with the basic pretexts of the model of native designed federalism by sheer fact that the atrocities of mass genocide of the native population and enslavement of Africans populations. Defense and justification was rationalized by the ideas of European style nation-states which became a main aspect of the colonial-settler structure that has built the United States's States and defended the corresponding structure of capitalism it supported. This structure of capitalism, white supremacy, and nation-states serve to culminate into the colonial-settlers apparatus that ultimately embodies some of the worst aspects of imperialism and other forms of exploitation. The colonial wars with native peoples, the manifest destiny against the rest of the native population in the continent as well as the conquest of Mexico, the overseas expansion that occurred during the Spanish-American war, and the modern imperialism/neocolonialism via corporations and global military domination of the post World War II "Pax Americana"; just to name a few examples of the colonial-settlers atrocities. As Martin Luther King Jr once said, this is the mentality of the "triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism"; which was another way of describing what has been embodied in the colonial-settler structure, and is something dating back to the origins of the United States. But even with these atrocities, the origin of the United States is shared by its federalism.

Federalism was the basis that formed the United States in its beginning via the Articles of Confederation, and later the adoption of the Constitution and the formation of the federal government. While the colonial-settler structures blended with this, Federalism was a creation of native peoples in America. The idea of federalism was rooted in the collective native tribes of America who formed a confederation most know today as the Iroquois Confederacy. It was a coalition of tribes that came together to form a collective that worked in the interests of the group as a whole rather than any one individual tribe. These basic pretexts of political organization, coupled with native economic values of resource conservation and egalitarian distribution towards members of the collective tribe; formatted an institutional system that strikingly contrasts the individualism of European nation-states and their economic structure of capitalism with its privatization and self-serving incentives. This manner of transcended organization beyond any one particular tribe structure allowed for a system of unity that could be seen as a proto-form of internationalism, given theoretically the tribes welcomed all other tribes. The development of this international perspective likely was influenced by the interconnected trade network systems that intertwined the Americas in multiple structures of trade and commerce. It has been said that the Iroquois Confederacy developed the concept of a peace belt, a belt used to signify members of the confederation and a sign of friendship to the tribes connected in the vast North American and Pan-American trade networks. One could compare this to a proto form of universal citizenship/international passport. It is worth noting that this internationalist mentality has corresponded with the US federal structure in its motto E Pluribus Unum.

In the end, the atrocities of the European nation-states and its corresponding loyalty to capitalism has all but destroyed the native Federation and its corresponding economic system and mentality of international unity of the human species. The colonial-settler structure of the United States continues to wage a campaign of imperialism as a means of expanding the economic capacity of its capitalist structure via exploitation internally of the populace within its borders!and colonial territorial apparatuses; as well as protruding externally with an expanse of militarism on a global scale as a way of consolidating economic domination and exploitation. The loss of the memory of the history of federalism, the native mentality of egalitarian internationalism, and other tragedies inflicted by the cruelties of the colonial-settler imperial occupation derived from European systems of government do not hold unilateral hegemony over the course and path of the United States federal government. While the two corresponding structures have codeveloped, the inherent nature of the colonial-settler system is not one that is unalterable or invulnerable.

The basic pretexts outlined in early draft of the Articles of Confederation, such as the model written by Thomas Paine, outlined a federal government that instituted universal citizenship, voting rights for all, abolish of slavery, economic protection and egalitarian distributive methods, amongst many other attributes lost to placate the colonial-settler heritage. Entire wars have been fought to curtail this colonial-settler imperialism, and in the end the federal Union has repelled and advanced, even if slower than desired. The momentum of history will approach a point in which the colonial-settlers structure collapses internally and externally, just as every imperial power has; but with the legacy of the native union embodied in American federalism, the potential for a rebirth and rejuvenation of that lost perspective is possible. And when that perspective is revived and re-instituted, the United States can finally live up to its motto: Out of Many, One.

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