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Bush “Spy Story” Is 4 Year Old ACLU Lawsuit

Somehow the geeky Wired News managed to scoop the vaunted New York Times by more than four years:

Bush Submits His Laws for War

By Declan McCullagh
10:15 AM Sep. 20, 2001 PT

WASHINGTON — President Bush sent his anti-terrorism bill to Congress late Wednesday, launching an emotional debate that will force U.S. politicians to choose between continued freedom for Americans or greater security.

Created in response to last week's bloody attacks, the draft "Mobilization Against Terrorism Act" (MATA) rewrites laws dealing with wiretapping, eavesdropping and immigration. The draft, intended to increase prosecutors' courtroom authority, also unleashes the government's Echelon and Carnivore spy systems.

"We will call upon the Congress of the United States to enact these important anti-terrorism measures," Attorney General John Ashcroft said this week. "We need these tools to fight the terrorism threat which exists in the United States, and we must meet that growing threat."

Although Ashcroft has said he hopes Congress will approve MATA by Saturday, Capitol Hill appears to be taking a more cautious approach. The House Judiciary committee has pledged a speedy but careful consideration, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has his own legislation he'll highlight at a hearing next Tuesday.

At a press conference Thursday in Washington, scores of organizations from across the political spectrum urged politicians to tread carefully and protect civil liberties during wartime. The In Defense of Freedom coalition says it hopes to prevent a repetition of earlier wars that heralded greater government powers and sharply curtailed freedoms.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, interfered with freedom of speech and of the press and ordered that suspected political criminals be tried before military tribunals. After declaring war in 1917, Congress banned using the U.S. mail to send any material urging "treason, insurrection or forcible resistance to any law."

President Wilson asked Congress to go even further: His draft of the Espionage Act included a $10,000 fine and 10 years imprisonment for anyone publishing information that could be useful to the enemy. The House of Representatives narrowly defeated it by a vote of 184-144.

This is the inevitable result of war: In national emergencies, even in liberal democracies, the uneasy relationship between freedom and order edges toward greater government power and control.

"There is no reason to think that future wartime presidents will act differently from Lincoln, Wilson or Roosevelt, or that future justices of the Supreme Court will decide questions differently from their predecessors," William Rehnquist, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote in a book published in 1998.

"It is neither desirable nor is it remotely likely that civil liberty will occupy as favored a position in wartime as it does in peacetime," Rehnquist wrote in All the Laws But One.

This time, there seems to be little interest in enacting laws against free expression — but the draft version of MATA would curtail privacy in hopes of thwarting future terrorist attacks. It says:

  • Police wiretap powers would be expanded, and Carnivore's utility increased. Any U.S. attorney or state attorney general could order the installation of the FBI's Carnivore Net-surveillance system in emergency situations without obtaining a court order first.
  • Voicemail messages would be easier for law enforcement investigators to obtain. A search warrant would be required, instead of a wiretap order that brings with it a higher level of court scrutiny.
  • Wiretapping would become easier. Currently, police are required to perform "normal investigative procedures" before tapping, a requirement that would no longer apply.
  • Echelon, the National Security Agency's shadowy data collection system operated in conjunction with friendly nations, could be used against Americans. Information gathered from Echelon and other electronic surveillance by foreign governments could be used against Americans "even if the collection would have violated the Fourth Amendment," according to the Justice Department's analysis of MATA.
  • The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a law that created a secret court to approve spy investigations, would be broadened and made more powerful. Searches and surveillance under FISA would become permissible for one year, instead of the current limit of 45 to 90 days.
  • Using this new version of FISA, prosecutors could look through the records of any business, credit card company or Internet provider with an "administrative subpoena" that does not require a judge's approval.
  • A non-U.S. citizen suspected of being a terrorist could be detained immediately by federal authorities without a court order.
  • The statute of limitations for terrorism-related crimes would be eliminated.
  • Nobody would be able to possess certain chemicals or biological agents unless they can prove they have a "peaceful purpose" for doing so.
  • State bar associations' ethics rules — that may limit the ability of Justice Department attorneys to approve undercover investigations — would no longer apply.
  • DNA samples would be taken from all convicted felons.
  • In a statement, the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation said that this "broad legislation would radically tip the United States' system of checks and balances, giving the government unprecedented authority to surveil American citizens with little judicial or other oversight."

    The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday: "Under the proposed legislation, legal and non-legal immigrants alike would be denied a hearing or any way to contest the accusations against them. This is an unprecedented move inconsistent with the pledge of our leaders not to respond to the terrorist attacks in a way that degrades our system of justice."

    And low and behold, those jackbooted fascists in the Bush regime even sent out a press release — which I guess the New York Times deemed unworthy of their attention at the time:

    Department of Justice Seal


    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2001 (202) 616-2777

    TDD (202) 514-1888




    WASHINGTON, D.C. Attorney General John Ashcroft today presented the Mobilization Against Terrorism Act to Congress. Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Ashcroft outlined the comprehensive legislative initiative which will redefine the antiterrorism effort while protecting civil liberties. The purpose of the legislation is to provide the President and the Department of Justice with the tools and resources necessary to disrupt, weaken, thwart, and eliminate the infrastructure of terrorist organizations, to prevent or thwart terrorist attacks, and to punish perpetrators of terrorist acts.

    "The danger that darkened the United States of America and the civilized world on September 11 did not pass with the atrocities committed that day," said Ashcroft. "It requires that we provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to identify, dismantle, disrupt and punish terrorist organizations before they strike again. Terrorism is a clear and present danger to American's today."

    The proposed legislation seeks to combat terrorist activity on several fronts. Title I enhances the Department's capacity to gather intelligence necessary to combat terrorist organizations who increasingly employ sophisticated modes of global communications. Existing wiretap authority and procedures have not kept pace with the development of modern technology or the mode of operations of international terrorist organizations. Since current wiretap authority is often restricted to specific property as opposed to allowing law enforcement to follow suspects, current authority is inadequate for investigative personnel to monitor terrorist agents and associates. These proposals update the law to the technology. Terrorist offenses necessitate and justify comprehensive intelligence gathering.

    Title II enhances the authority of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to detain and remove suspected terrorists by expanding the definition of terrorists to include those who lend support to terrorist organizations. The ability of terrorists to enter the United States and operate within the country is the obvious prerequisite to their capacity to inflict damage on citizens and facilities. These proposals protect the integrity of the United States borders without sacrificing the ability to welcome law-abiding visitors and legal immigrants.

    Title III proposes changes to enhance prosecutors' ability to disable terrorists organizations through the legal process. The proposal amends current law to encourage investigation and prosecution prior to successful completion of a devastating terrorist attack. Terrorism should be considered no less than murder and the elimination of the statute of limitations on terrorist acts is reflective of these sentiments. In addition, this legislation provides for alternative maximum sentences, up to life, for the commission of terrorist acts, giving judges the ability to punish terrorists commensurate to their crimes. A number of other proposals are designed to punish or deter those who would assist terrorists and their organizations through concealment of their activities or their members. The lending of support that works to further terrorist organizations and to perpetuate terrorist attacks is expressly criminalized. In these specific changes to the law of crimes and criminal procedure, the constitutional rights of the accused are respected.

    Title IV aims at the financial infrastructure of terrorist organizations whose sophisticated operations require substantial financial resources. Often such resources are provided by those not directly responsible for terrorist acts. These proposals will cripple the capacity of terrorist organizations to finance their illegal activities through criminal and civil forfeiture of resources. In addition, criminal liability is specifically imposed on those who knowingly engage in financial transactions involving the proceeds of these acts.

    Title V authorizes emergency operations in response to the September 11 attacks and assists the Attorney General in providing support and relief to the victims. These proposals provide the Attorney General greater discretion and authority to disburse funds with regard to rewards to be offered in connection with crimes of terrorism.

    So the obvious question becomes, why did our one party media decide to trot this story out again? You may well ask why these same "watchdogs" thought it was important to regurgitate the "CIA prisons" stories that were first reported last May.

    But you know why. The DNC/MSM cannot allow the good news coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan to be reported.

    They have to throw up something to keep their defeat America agenda on-track. That is job number one.

    This article was posted by Steve on Monday, December 19th, 2005. Comments are currently closed.

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