Patriot Act Civil Liberties Violations
     
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"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out...without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable. "-- H. L. Mencken

Patriot Act Civil Liberties Violations

Privacy and Freedom from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The Supreme Court's paramount interpretation of the "unreasonable searches and seizures" clause of the Fourth Amendment is Katz v. U.S. In Katz, the Court held that protections of the Fourth Amendment apply when an individual has a "reasonable expectation of privacy." The second, equally important prong of the opinion holds that: "Searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment- subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions."

USA PATRIOT Act sections 203, 218, 206, 213, 215, 411, and 412 may threaten the amendment's guarantee against "unreasonable searches and seizures." For more information on how these USA PATRIOT sections threaten the Fourth Amendment, see the BORDC's Analysis of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Additionally, the Attorney General's Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering Enterprise and Terrorism Enterprise Investigations (Revised May 30, 2002) rescind anti-COINTELPRO regulations requiring probable cause for surveillance of religious and political groups, authorizing FBI monitoring without evidence of wrongdoing. Of particular note is Section VI(A)(2) of the guidelines, which allow FBI members to "attend any event that is open to the public." For more information on what important revisions Attorney General Ashcroft made to the guidelines, read the ACLU's analysis.

Your rights are going bye bye!
Corporations and the Bill of Rights

From ReclaimDemocracy.org:

"Our Bill of Rights was the result of tremendous efforts to institutionalize and protect the rights of human beings. It strengthened the premise of our Constitution: that the people are the root of all power and authority for government. This vision has made our Constitution and government a model emulated in many nations.

But corporate lawyers (acting as both attorneys and judges) subverted our Bill of Rights in the late 1800's by establishing the doctrine of "corporate personhood" -- the claim that corporations were intended to fully enjoy the legal status and protections created for human beings."

Unfortunately, in our "democracy" the average person has less democratic power than the average for-profit corporation. While citizens' rights are being taken away by counterterrorism law and policy, corporations are gaining power.

Corporations and National Security Policy

The federal government frequently contracts with private corporations, such as Lockheed Martin and Halliburton, to enhance defense and homeland security. For instance, Accenture recently contracted with the DHS to develop technology systems for US-VISIT, a program that has been heavily criticized by privacy advocates. The contract could be worth up to $10 billion dollars over the next decade. Additionally, corporations have benefited from the Iraq War. For more information, read David Nordberg's Corporations are the Only Winners in Occupation of Iraq.

For an in-depth analysis of how corporations benefit from national security policy, read the November 2001 edition of the Multinational Monitor: Corporations and National Security.

Corporate Immunity, Legal Responsibility

In a May 22, 2003 Executive Order, President Bush granted legal immunity to oil companies operating in Iraq. For more information, read EarthRights International's legal analysis of the order or this Common Dreams article. The legal immunity of corporations involved in defense and national security is also a major obstacle for redressing Constitutional Rights violations that occur at corporate prisons.

There are means to hold corporations legally responsible for violating international human rights. For information on a lawsuit charging corporate involvement in Iraqi prisoner torture, see the Center for Constitutional Rights website.

Another contentious area of corporate rights is "commercial speech" protected by the First Amendment. For an idea of some of the issues facing this area of the law, read Democracy v. Corporate 'Free Speech' by Jeffrey Kaplan and Jeff Milchen.

With this background, BORDC believes it is important for Americans to envision a way to create real democracy, a democracy where people are the source of the government's authority. While this task is admittedly not an easy one, it is crucial to the survival of our civil rights and liberties.

Just A Few Patriot Act Realities For Your Reading Pleasure

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