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> From: Salim Virani
> Date: Thu Mar 20, 2003 9:11:11 AM US/Pacific
> To: Ian Bell
> Subject: Bend over.
> US drafts draconian sequel to Patriot Act
> Jeet Thayil in New York | March 19, 2003 17:49 IST
> In February, the non-profit Center for Public Integrity, a
> Washington-based watchdog organisation, posted on its web site an
> 86-page draft of the secret Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003.
> United States Attorney General John Ashcroft’s staff had drafted the
> document even as the Justice Department denied persistent rumours
> about the creation such a bill.
> The draft bill proposes more than 100 changes in law, and allows
> increased electronic surveillance and data collection from sources
> such as e-mail, chat rooms and cell phone conversations.
> For the first time encryption will be made a criminal offence, a
> daunting idea considering the increasing daily usage of encryption in
> internet communication.
> The draft bill allows the attorney general to deport any foreigner,
> including permanent legal residents whose presence is considered
> ‘inconsistent with national security’. The summary deportation can be
> carried out even if there is no evidence of crime or criminal intent.
> Section 501 of the DSEA allows the Justice Department to revoke
> permanent resident alien status. It gives the government power to
> strip the citizenship of, and detain as aliens, Americans suspected of
> helping those ‘designated as a terrorist organisation’.
> The draft bill dramatically increases the government’s domestic spying
> capabilities. It permits wiretapping of citizens and residents for 15
> days without a court order, at the discretion of the Attorney General.
> It allows a citizen’s internet and chat room visits to be monitored
> for 48 hours without a judge’s permission.
> The document also protects federal agents carrying out illegal
> surveillance while Section 312 invalidates court-approved curbs on
> police spying.
> Authorities may create a DNA database from ‘suspected terrorists’ or
> non-citizens suspected of ‘ordinary’ [read non-terrorist] crimes.
> For the first time in US history secret arrests will be permitted in a
> section titled ‘Prohibition of Disclosure of Terrorism Investigation
> Detainee Information’. It allows federal agents to carry out
> indefinite detentions while denying the identity or existence of such
> detainees.
> In fact, proposed Section 201 of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act
> overturns a federal court order that the Bush administration must
> reveal the identities of detainees. The relevant section notes that
> ‘the government need not disclose information about individuals
> detained in investigations of terrorism’ until criminal charges are
> filed.
> Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity and a former
> television personality, was interviewed on Bill Moyers’s PBS programme
> Now, on the same day the document was leaked.
> The draft bill would ‘give the attorney general unchecked power to
> deport any foreigner’, Moyers said.
> Soon after the show aired on the enormously influential PBS station,
> the leaked document began to make its way to mainstream radio and
> media outlets.
> Civil liberties group dubbed the proposed bill ‘Patriot Act II’ after
> the USA Patriot Act, which was passed soon after September 11, 2001.
> That act gave the government unprecedented powers while limiting civil
> liberties.
> “If you liked the Patriot Act, you’re going to love the sequel,” said
> George Getz, communications director of the Libertarian Party.
> “Patriot II offers awesome government power, rapidly disappearing
> freedom, and an action-packed war on the Constitution.
> “You’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat as your liberties are
> stripped away,” he added.
> Other civil groups said much the same thing. “The DSEA of 2003
> encroaches on the rights and protections of Americans even more than
> its predecessor did,” said Mel Lipman, president of the American
> Humanist Association.
> Lipman said the bill ‘would see our basic freedoms diminished along
> with key checks and balances on executive branch powers’.
> He said certain individuals would be targeted not on their actions but
> on whether they were a ‘potential threat’ according to ‘ethnicity,
> belief, appearance, or other unrelated factors’.
> Lewis, who is executive director of the Center for Public Integrity,
> said the leaked document provided startling evidence of ‘another
> tectonic shift in the historic constitutional balance between security
> and liberty’.
> The Department of Justice has not yet officially released the draft
> bill, but a ‘control sheet’ attached to the bill indicated copies were
> sent to Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Dennis
> Hastert.
> No official statement has been made on the draft bill or the fact that
> it was leaked to the Internet, and subsequently to the media. The only
> response from the Department of Justice was a written statement from a
> spokesperson saying it would be ‘premature to speculate on any future
> decisions, particularly ideas or proposals that are still being
> discussed at staff levels’.
> Salim Virani
> 604.773.4436

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