Yes, I and I want it badly. Do you, as an American, not feel the same?
When I was a child, I attended a private school. We began our day by reciting The Lord’s Prayer and The Pledge of Allegiance. I hope, in writing this article, I can in some small way honor that pledge.
On occasion, we were taught emergency procedures. We had fire drills, and we were also taught what to do in the event of a nuclear strike. We were to go to the basement, sit on the floor, and place our heads between our knees.That strike, we were taught, was an imminent threat, and that our assailant would be Russia. Russia was bad. Not only was the nation bad, but its citizens rotten to the core. They had no freedoms, no liberties. They could, for instance, be jailed without explanation and after arrest receive no representation. They could be locked up, the key thrown away, and they would be left to waste away, forgotten. They hated us. We should hate them, too. I’m still unclear about the explanation given to us children about this. A convoluted argument about, being evil, they wanted to destroy our God-fearing, democratic way of life.
I’m confused. Those reasons to hate a demonized nation have become status quo for a country I love. Now I find that it’s perfectly legal for my own country to treat me in the same way that a country which, I was taught, was clearly an instrument of the devil, to treat me in the same way that it treated its citizens. What am I to make of this?
I was also taught that, next to the Bible, The Constitution of the United States was the most important document ever written. That its framers were heroes and saints, who risked life and limb to bring liberty for future generations of Americans. That only the Constitution and the also sacred Bill of Rights stood between freedom and slavery for all of us. That my future depended on them.
If you have not done so, I ask you to do your patriotic duty. Read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Think about what they mean. Then read the Patriot Act and the adjuncts to it, and ask yourself how these documents mesh up. Is the Patriotic Act in keeping with the intentions of our founding fathers?
I will share just a few examples of what I believe are policies instituted in recent years that are not in keeping with the intentions of the framers, and are thus undemocratic and un-American.
The Patriot Act expands the meaning of terrorism so that many Americans who engage in nonviolent civil disobedience may be branded as terrorists. The Government may now prosecute record-keepers of all kinds if they reveal that the government requests the information in the course of an investigation. It is a crime to protect your privacy. This includes your banks, employers, physicians, and even librarians.
Government agents may monitor First Amendment protected activities of religious or political institutions, and infiltrate these groups with no suspicion of criminal activity. Shades of McCarthyism. You may be investigated because of advocacy groups you are involved in, or statements you make in their support. Record keepers by law may not tell you that your personal information was revealed.
Search and Seizure. Law Enforcement may now conduct secret searches and wiretaps in your home or office without demonstrating probable cause. They need only assert that intelligence gathering is the reason for intrusion, even when the goal is normal law enforcement. They may also monitor your e-mail and Internet activities, and may record every e-mail address and website you contact with. Note that the 1st Amendment constraints apply here as well. Judicial oversight of such matters is gone. The Patriot Act directs judges to consent to secret searches solely on the assertion that the purpose of an investigation is gathering information related to terrorism.
Due process and arrest without charge. U.S. citizens may be jailed without a formal charge brought against them. They have no right to confront evidence or witnesses. Americans citizens may be held in military jails without charge and without appeal for an indefinite period of confinement.
Right to legal representation. Right to a speedy and public trial. No one knows how many, but at least hundreds of U.S. occupants are detained for months at a time and denied access to an attorney. The Government may now monitor conversations between attorneys and clients in federal jails. The Bush Administration claimed that legal counsel would interfere with interrogation. There is no limit for detention, no guarantee of public trial, and not even a promise that a detainee’s family will be informed of his/her whereabouts.
Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. Individuals may be held in solitary confinement for indefinite lengths of time. They may be subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation.’
Moving away from your inalienable rights, which, as demonstrated, are quite alienable indeed. The Department of Homeland Security has 200,000 employees with an average salary of $69,000. Its 2011 budget was 98.8 billion dollars. It operates on a reactive, not proactive basis. One idiot puts a half-assed bomb in his shoe, the world must take off its shoes before boarding an aircraft. Your odds of being killed in an aircraft, post 9/11, are thirteen million to one. Flying is far safer than driving to the grocery. While airports teem with security and are loaded with tremendously expensive gadgetry, borders around the country are largely unguarded. A terrorist can walk into the U.S. if he chooses to. The Department of Homeland Security is not a deterrent to terrorists, it is a massive industry.
I could go on at great length, write a tome of a book about this issue, but I will bring only one more item to your attention. It is called The John Warner Defense Appropriation Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Section 1076 of H.R. 5122.ENR empowers the President to (I’ve chopped out the agonizing reading bullshit) “…employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to… restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States…, where the President determines that,…domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order; suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy…”
I don’t think I need to translate that for you or explain its ramifications. Are you frightened yet? Wouldn’t you like to have your freedoms back, too?
August 8, 2012
James Thompson is an established author in Finland. His novel, Snow Angels, the first in the Inspector Vaara series, was released in the U.S. by Putnam and marked his entrance into the international crime fiction scene. Booklist named it one of the ten best debut crime novels of 2010, and it was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Strand Critics awards. His second Vaara novel, Lucifer’s Tears, released in March, 2011, earned starred reviews from all quarters, and was named one the best novels of the year by Kirkus. The third in the series, Helsinki White, was released on March 15.
FB: james thompson author