by James R. Elwood & Jarret B. Wollstein
“I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people, and the West in general, into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”
Osama bin Laden, October, 2001 (quoted in NewsMax.com 2/1/02)
At 5 am in the morning on September 12, 2001 – less than one day after the 9/11 Attack – a half-dozen heavily-armed federal agents raided the home of Dr. Al-Hazmi in San Antonio, Texas. Without any search warrant, the agents ransacked his home, while his wife and young children (6 & 8) were held at gunpoint. Then – without being charged with any crime – Dr. Al-Hazmi was shackled and thrown naked into a freezing cold FBI holding cell. Even his eyeglasses and bronchitis medicine were taken away. Next, Al-Hazmi was flown to a New York prison, where he says he was repeatedly beaten while the FBI interrogated him.
One week later, he was finally allowed to talk to an attorney and learned the reason for his arrest: Dr. Al-Hazmi’s name (the “Smith” of the Middle East) is similar to that of two 9/11 hijackers, and he had booked flights through Travelocity.com, which some 9/11 hijackers (along with a few million other people) had used.
On September 24th – 12 days after he was arrested, Dr. Al-Hazmi was released – without his belongings and without even an apology from the FBI. He says he may now have to quit his job and leave the U.S. because his co-workers no longer trust him. (Source: “Justice Kept In the Dark,” Newsweek,12-10-01, p. 41.)
Since September 11th, over 2,000 people, including many U.S. citizens, have been imprisoned by the FBI and police in the name of “fighting terrorism.” Only two of them have been charged with a crime associated with 9/11. Many say they have been denied food and sleep, access to an attorney, and have even been beaten. The FBI has even called for legalizing torture of such “suspects.”
In the wake of the horrific 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, America is a changed country. Dozens of “anti-terrorist” laws have already been enacted by Congress and state legislatures, and many more are on the way. As you are about to learn, these laws are a much greater danger to you than to terrorists.
The centerpiece of the new “anti-terror” laws is the USA PATRIOT ACT (Public Law 107-56). Here is how this law affects you.
Cops can now rob your house or office at will: Under Section 213, police can now secretly break into your home or business if they merely suspect you’re involved in any criminal activity involving a computer.
Once they break in, they can seize your records, alter or destroy your computer files, and even plant bugs that report every keystroke you type. They can also secretly seize anything and everything you own, including family heirlooms, your computer, cash, jewelry, and gold. Since the “search” is secret, it will be impossible to legally challenge it – much less get your property back.
In effect, the USA Patriot Act legalizes home break-ins and robberies by cops nationwide – not unlike the corrupt LA police Rampart Division which routinely robbed and assaulted citizens they were sworn “to serve and protect.”
Big Brother is Watching: Under Section 207(III) the Feds can now eavesdrop on your phone calls, faxes, and e-mail at will – without any search warrant. Internet Service Providers must turn over your e-mail records and customer information upon government demand. Telephone companies also must turn over detailed phone records, including any credit-card or bank-account numbers used for payments.
According to CBSNews.com (11/21/01), the FBI is developing new “Magic Lantern” software that can record every keystroke you make on your computer. It could be inserted into your PC via the Internet, and may even be capable of real-time monitoring! [Shades of 1984]
Your financial privacy is being wiped out. Section 358 compels U.S. and foreign banks – along with stockbrokers, credit-card companies, and credit-reporting agencies – to provide detailed information about you to intelligence agencies on demand. You won’t even be notified that this information has been requested.
Section 361 greatly expands the power of the IRS Financial Crimes Center (FINCEN) to collect financial information on you from “non-bank networks” (like check-cashing services and barter-systems). This information will be entered into a new federal database accessible to thousands of cops and bureaucrats, who can use the information to criminally prosecute you or seize your assets. The IRS has already forced MasterCard and American Express to turn over all records of millions of U.S. citizens who have foreign credit cards.
If you are a foreigner who owns U.S. assets, they can be seized upon the mere request of a U.S. prosecutor.
Finally, carrying $10,000 cash in or out of the US (without reporting it) is by itself now considered a federal crime. Your cash will be immediately confiscated.
Anything and everything you own can be seized without trial. Section 302 allows “forfeiture of any assets in connection with the anti-terrorist efforts of the United States.” If you contribute even $1 to an organization that the President brands “terrorist,” everything you own can be confiscated.
Since September 11th, over $400 million in assets has been seized, including all of the assets of the Global Relief Foundation in Bridgeview, Illinois, which raises some $5 million a year for poor Muslims. According to CBS News, FBI agents removed “furniture and fixtures as well as records.” Justice Department officials say they will also go after large contributors to Global and 39 other Muslim charities.
Section 802 of the USA Patriot Act says “domestic terrorism” includes any illegal acts which are “dangerous to human life” or which are “intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population [or] to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”
This wording is so vague, that police could brand you a ‘supporter of terrorism’ simply for protesting an unjust law, taking part in a political demonstration where a fist-fight breaks out, or even writing an article that criticizes the War on Terror! Already, similar laws have been used to arrest protesters at anti-abortion demonstration, seize the assets of some defense attorneys, and even arrest 6-year-old children for making “terrorist threats.”
Section 813 further states that such “terrorist acts” fall under RICO (the Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act), which allows police to confiscate everything you own based upon mere “suspicion.”
In the wake of 9/11, scores of new anti-terrorist laws and policies have already been enacted including:
Robbing and assaulting airline passengers. Airports (and many other public places) are now “rights-free zones.” Under the eye of armed soldiers, thousands of airline passengers have had legal items like toenail clippers, jewelry, and belts confiscated as potential “weapons.” Many are also being molested.
Columnist Rebecca Hagelin reports that a female airport security guard “ran her hands across my breast and up my thighs.” Then her 9-year-old daughter was subjected to the same treatment. WorldNetDaily.com publisher Joseph Farah says his 15-year-old daughter was “told to unbutton her pants and roll them down below the beltline.” In Atlanta, 72 women have filed suit for sexual molestation by male airport security screeners.
National ID cards and internal passports.The “Drivers License Modernization Act of 2002” (HR 4633) mandates that all state drivers licenses be standardized “smart cards” that would include your Social Security number, digitized photo, and “biometric” identifiers such as your fingerprints or retinal scan. This won’t stop criminals or terrorists, who routinely steal or forge IDs.
However, your license will be linked to a national database now being created which will enable the government to control your every movement and track every dollar you spend.
Some officials are even calling for these ID cards to be mandatory for boarding a bus, train, or cruise ship – or even to rent a car! That would transform your driver’s license into an internal passport. Just like in the former Soviet Union, government bureaucrats could prevent you from traveling!
“Star chamber” military tribunals. These tribunals strip away your most basic legal protections. Before these tribunals, you have no presumption of innocence, hearsay evidence can be used to convict you, and there is no independent jury. Instead you are judged by military officers who work for the same boss as the prosecutors trying to convict you. Military tribunals can even order that you be summarily executed – without appeal.
So far, these military tribunals are supposed to try only foreign “terrorist” suspects. But a Presidential Executive Order could make you subject to them in a heartbeat – just as Lincoln ordered during the Civil War.
Universal surveillance, arbitrary property seizures, imprisonment without trial, “kangaroo-court” tribunals, and summary execution of “suspects” were the hallmarks of the brutal dictatorships in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia – and continue today in repressive countries like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. These abuses have no place in a free and civilized society.
But now in America, the USA Patriot Act and the other new anti-terror laws and edicts virtually wipe out our Bill of Rights and give government officials absolute power over your life and property. As Lord Acton warned: “Power corrupts – and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
Certainly in the wake of 9/11 and the continuing terrorist threat, government should hunt down and get rid of real terrorists. But vicious attacks on our freedom and privacy will not make our country one whit safer.
There is still time to fight back, as many people – including some members of Congress – are starting to do. Join us in insisting as a free and just people, that the “rule of law” enshrined in the Bill of Rights – which protects the innocent – must be strictly upheld, and that the new “anti-terrorist” laws be repealed.
Allowing government to destroy our liberty in the name of fighting terrorism will destroy everything that has made America a great, prosperous and decent society – and give Osama bin Laden and his wretched ilk their final victory.
James R. Elwood is the executive director of ISIL.
Jarret B. Wollstein is a co-founder of the original Society for Individual Liberty, a prolific writer, and the author of over 25 books including “Surviving Terrorism, Protecting yourself, your business and your community from terrorism and martial law.”
This pamphlet is part of ISIL‘s educational pamphlet series. Click here for the full index of pamphlets online.