See what I mean? Just because I wrote to them with concerns about the bill, it was automatically assumed that I was advocating violent political protest. And I was threatened with being removed from their e-mail list. Being deeply opposed to violence and mortified by anything immoral, I was of course doing nothing of the kind.
Imagine what would happen as government infiltrators (as proposed by the Thought Crimes Bill) stomp our college grounds while targeting our vocal college students as “Terrorists”. Won’t the “terrorist suspects” be all the more subject to such scrutiny by the general public as you see written to me by The PEN? Imagine all the more what scenarios will be generated as vocal college students are spied on and stalked by Federal agents who are just as agenda-crazed and hyper vigilant as those border guards at the former Iron Curtain.
Does such legislation as S. 1959 the Thought Crimes Bill “protect” Americans or actually endanger us? Let’s not forget that these Feds who have to please their bosses, will themselves be sitting on the proposed panel of Federal agents conducting trials of American “terrorist” citizens. That’s a very dangerous proposition, lacking the checks and balances of a Judiciary and an unbiased citizen jury. It was exactly because of such unilateral powers, that people in dictatorships all said the great big “SSSHHHH!”
So much for “protections”. In fact, it was such “protections” which resulted in the border incidents at the former Iron Curtain: After all, the government had to “protect” its country from “Spies” (like then-nine-year-old me who was guilty of standing at the border for ten minutes and looking at the scenery in their country).
In parallel, the ACLU’s website is over-crowded with examples of “state secrets” and “national security” being evoked every time there is a torture case or a civil liberties violation to be covered up. The ACLU also reports so many incidents of activists, environmentalists and peace groups being targeted as “Terrorists” under the Patriot Act that it’s not even funny:
"Since when did feeding the homeless become a terrorist activity?" asked ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson. "When the FBI and local law enforcement target groups like Food Not Bombs under the guise of fighting terrorism, many Americans who oppose government policies will be discouraged from speaking out and exercising their rights."
The ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Gun Owners of America plus a dozen conservative entities ALL agree: The Patriot Act’s definition of “terrorism” includes peace groups, religious groups and activists in its sweep.
Think about it: Is this definition deliberation or coincidence? No wonder the ACLU’s link above is concerned with political intimidation cases obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIA’s).
I myself was present at an ACLU Town Hall Meeting in San Francisco in which University of California, Berkeley students against the Iraq War testified that they were being repeatedly queried by police about speakers on campus and being tracked by surveillance cameras. Most students were reported to be “piping down” out of fear of being on some government list. This is the Patriot Act at work, folks and it too was designed to keep us “Safe”. Yet look at the result of that “Safety” and how it actually endangers the students. The vocal students, specifically. IE, free speech is under attack.
The truth is, that criminal wrong-doing does not like to see the light of day. Guised in the name of “protections”, the aim of dictatorships ALWAYS is to shut vocal people up. It’s always done to protect power, money-based agendas or to hide wrong-doing. That’s why Greenpeace is one of the “terrorist“ entities according to the Bush Administration: Too much against oil for profit. Peace/religious groups such as the Quaker American Friends Service Committee, an anti-war group: Ditto. Branded “terrorists” by the Administration itself. Too obstructive of the money-making war machine. 9-11 Truth-tellers: Ditto. Shut them up! Too likely to expose heinous crimes (“state secrets”) and undercut evil war profiteering.
The former Iron Curtain forbade travel without government permission: God forbid that citizens would tell a soul about what was going on under their oppressive rule. Friends of ours who were actually granted permission by the Hungarian government to study in Austria told us that if they had left without such permission, their family members would have been taken hostage. And God knows what would have happened to them thereafter.
This would never happen in the USA? Think again. CAPPS II was a post-911 U.S. law which sought to profile passengers and disallow flying privileges, and which was toppled by the business-oriented travel industry abroad.
On Friday, January 18th 2008, Democracy Now interviewed the brother of a detainee held for five years in Guantanamo. He reported that the USA’s condition for the captive brother’s release was to require that he never leave his native country, never tell a soul what happened to him (now matter how horrific: No therapy or support!) and that he be at the beck-and-call of the CIA at all times. IE that he be at the end of their choke chain: One word and yank! Back he would go to the hell of torture he came from. Like more than 70% of the Guantanamo detainees, this “terrorist” has never been charged with a single crime.
The true story of our late friend Alan Levy, NY Times journalist and author of the book “Rowboat to Prague” which became an Iron Curtain underground classic, is permanently imprinted in my brain. He told us that while writing the book and living in Prague, he snuck the manuscript out of the country, one or two pages at a time, to avoid being caught in the act of free speech (exposing the dictatorship). When the Czek Government opened up a piece of his mail (do you “hear” the parallel with letter opening in post-911 USA?) he was given 72 hours to leave the country, with his wife and two children, with a literal death threat fanning the jets behind him. Even after he left and escaped to Vienna, the Czek Government issued a warrant for his arrest, dead or alive, for 250 years. The miracle is that once the Iron Curtain fell, he not only went back to his beloved Prague but even became a head journalist of a Czek newspaper, until he finally (and fairly recently) passed on.