Welcome to Amerika!: Tell the truth, go to prison
Summertime: when living is easy, sunshine is plentiful, and pink lemonade disappears as if by magic. Your lawn needs cutting, the garage is a mess, and your truck is filthy, but a novel is calling your name. The hammock in the backyard sucks you in. Suddenly, it’s two hours later and time to light the grille for dinner. This is Liberty, but State agents are busily plotting to take it away from you, just like every other day.
Patriot Act II is back and on track to take away even more of your freedom. This time around pending legislation provides for up to five years in prison for the heinous crime of telling the truth. Really. Welcome to Amerika!
Kim Zetter writes, “While activists and politicians work to repeal or change parts of the Patriot Act that they say violate constitutional rights, Patriot Act II legislation — which caused a stir when it came to light last year — is rearing its head again in a new bill making its way through Congress.
“The bill would strengthen laws that let the FBI demand that businesses hand over confidential records about patrons by assigning stiff penalties (up to five years in prison) to anyone who discloses that the FBI made the demand.”
Tell the truth, go to prison. What a country!
Martha Stewart is currently headed to prison for lying to a federal agent. Disregard the fact that she committed no crime. In the near future you may find yourself in the same situation for telling the truth. What’s wrong with this picture?
“The bill, known as the Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Tools Improvement Act of 2003, or HR 3179, was introduced last September by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and was co-sponsored by Rep. Porter Goss (R-Florida). … [C]ritics, like conservative former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Georgia), say that rather than abandoning the legislation altogether, the department has been extracting provisions and having sympathetic lawmakers slip them one by one into new bills to pass the legislation piecemeal. At least five other bills pending in Congress also contain provisions from Patriot Act II, but HR 3179 is the one that’s in imminent danger of being passed under the radar.
“The new bill, HR 3179, was set to pass through Congress without a hearing last year, but the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sensenbrenner, changed its mind and held a hearing May 18. The bill is waiting for markup in that committee, but critics fear that Rep. Goss and the House Intelligence Committee will slip the bill into this year’s Intelligence Authorization Act during a closed-door hearing on June 16, and pass it quickly before lawmakers can revise or further debate it.
“Under the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II provisions passed in the Intelligence Authorization Act last year, the FBI doesn’t need a court order or probable cause to obtain the transaction records for patrons of libraries, Internet service providers, telephone companies, casinos, travel agents, jewelers, car dealers or other businesses.
“The FBI can simply draft a ‘national security letter’ stating records are needed for a national security investigation, without being specific about the data being sought or the people being investigated. A nondisclosure provision prevents the letter recipient from telling anyone about it, including patrons whose records may be investigated.
“Under HR 3179, anyone who knowingly violates the secrecy clause could be imprisoned for up to a year, and anyone who violates it with ‘the intent to obstruct an investigation or judicial proceeding’ could be imprisoned up to five years. The bill also lets authorities force individuals and companies to comply with security letters under contempt-of-court threats.”
Telling the truth gets you up to a year in prison, but telling the truth with intent gets you up to five years in prison. HR 3179 allows the FBI to issue a letter and then force the recipient to comply with its terms, including nondisclosure, under threat of contempt of court for noncompliance.
Now, just which court would that be? The one that didn’t issue a court order? The one that didn’t require probable cause? Or the one that was not desired by State agents? No, it is the court that will suddenly appear when a recipient refuses to comply with the terms of the FBI’s letter. Such a deal!
These letters currently allow no due process, appeal, or oversight, and they will result in being jailed for noncompliance or imprisonment for telling the truth if HR 3179 passes. This is justice? No, this is Amerika.
The State has only one tool: force. Compliance is achieved by making noncompliance painful. If you tried the same methods on others you would end up in prison.
Lying, noncompliance, and telling the truth all become crimes if and only if the State prohibits them. Note that truly free men are always free to choose to engage in any of these behaviors. What does that make you?
HR 3179 makes disclosure of an FBI letter a crime only if one is received. Telling the truth then becomes a crime. Lying in court or to a State agent are already crimes because the State has previously decreed so. If you are not in court or addressing a State agent, lying is not a crime. So what you say?
Let me be perfectly clear: I received an FBI letter.
Am I worried? Of course not, because it’s not true, so I have nothing to fear.
When your day comes and you actually do receive an FBI letter, you will fully understand.
State secrecy is good so more State secrecy is better, but coerced participation in State secrecy — under threat of jail for noncompliance or imprisonment for telling the truth — is by far the best.
Welcome to Amerika!
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”