While we were still reeling from this blow, the administration set out to protect us by passing the Patriot Act. This piece of legislation, which was produced much too fast for me to believe that it wasn't cobbled together from a wish list just waiting for a disaster to attach it to, was too big and shoved through Congress too rapidly to be read before it was voted on and gave the administration new powers -- some protect us, most protect the government from us. There was such an assault on our civil rights that
Since then we have had Patriot II, which further broadened the ability of the government to interfere in the lives of its citizens and ignore the Bill of Rights and, indeed, common law that goes back centuries regarding trials and privacy.
Amnesty International is concerned that the USA PATRIOT Act:
Creates a broad definition of "domestic terrorism" that may have a chilling effect on the US and international rights to free expression and association.
Allows non-citizens to be detained without charge and held indefinitely once charged.
Permits the government to scrutinize peoples' reading habits by monitoring public library and bookstore records, without notifying the suspect. It also allows for "sneak and peak" tactics such as physical search of property and computers, wiretapping and monitoring of email, and access to financial and educational records, without providing notification.
These activities contradict the right to be free from arbitrary interference with individuals' privacy, as protected in the US Constitution and the ICCPR.
The President admitted using warrantless wiretaps and instead of censuring him, the Congress passed a retroactive law to make his infringement of our rights legal.
Now we have the newest abomination, allowing the President to declare anyone an enemy combatant and have them locked up indefinitely without recourse to habeas corpus or any other protections, tortured, and forgotten if he so wishes. There is no clause that forbids him to move in on your maiden aunt in this manner, and indeed he is even allowed to delegate this identification of status to anyone he desires.
Now, out of South Dakota comes the latest news in the abortion ban. First the legislature passed a law outlawing abortions except to save the life of the mother. The goal was to have the law challenged and take it to the Supreme Court, where Bush's newly appointed judges could use it as an excuse to take down Roe vs. Wade. The people of South Dakota were having none of that, and put a referendum on the ballot to allow the citizens to vote on this issue directly.
The forces in favor of the ban are trying a new tactic. They are claiming, with some 70 pages of findings based on pseudo-science at its best, that women must be protected from abortions. They do not know what it is that they want. They are not competent to decide these issues for themselves, and if allowed to do so will be pressured into abortions by unprincipled boy friends and abortion clinics, which will result not only in breast cancer, but a lifetime of regret. To support this, the report makes some amazing claims about the nature of women straight out of the heart of sexual stereotyping -- that the mother has a connection to her unborn that is greater than her perception of her own interests. Her biology knows more than her mind. Her impending motherhood is more important than her current circumstances.
Isn't it interesting? When they claim to be protecting the citizens, they use it as a cover to take away our civil rights. When they claim to be protecting women, they use it as an excuse to take away our reproductive rights.
It reminds me of a story I heard about Golda Meir. There was a move to declare a curfew for women, keeping them off the streets of Israel after dark, and thereby keeping them safe from attack. Golda Meir's response was to suggest that since it is men who attack women after dark, the curfew be passed to restrict them. No more was heard of the gender specific curfew.
Somehow, protection is always a racket.