Many Americans believe they understand the dangers of the Patriot Act, which Congress has vowed to extend 4 more years in a vote later this week. Trust me when I say, Americans are not nearly frightened enough.
Ever wonder why the facts about 9/11 never got exposed? Why Americans don't fathom the leadership fraud surrounding the War on Terror? Why Americans don't know the 9/11 investigation failed? Why the "Iraqi Peace Option" draws a blank? Somebody has known the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden--- or his grave--for the past 10 years. But nobody's talking.
In significant part, that's because of the Patriot Act--- a law that equates free speech with sedition. It's got a big agenda, with 7,000 pages of Machiavellian code designed to interrupt individual questioning of government policy. In this brave new world, free speech under the Bill of Rights effectively has been declared a threat to government controls for maintaining "stability". And the Patriot Act has become the premiere weapon to attack whistleblowers and dissidents who challenge the comfort of political leaders hiding inconvenient truths from the public. It's all the rage on Capitol Hill, as leaders strive to score TV ratings, while demagoguing their "outstanding leadership performance" on everything from national security to environmental policy.
Truth has Become Treason
But wait---Congress promised the Patriot Act only targets foreigners, who come to our shores seeking to destroy our way of life through violent, criminal acts. Good, law abiding Americans have nothing to fear. The Patriot Act restricts its powers of "roving wiretaps" and warrantless searches to international communications among "bad guys." Congress has sworn, with hand on heart, it's only purpose is breaking down terrorist cells and hunting out "lone wolf" mad men.
And you believed them? You trust the government. Well, that was your first mistake. With regards to the Patriot Act, it's a fatal one. Would the government lie to you? They already have.
The Patriot Act reaches far beyond terrorism prevention. In my home state of Maryland, State Police invoked the Patriot Act to run surveillance on the Chesapeake Climate Action Network dedicated to wind power, recycling and protection of the Chesapeake Bay. They infiltrated the DC Anti War Network, suggesting the group might be a front for "white supremacists," and Amnesty International, claiming to investigate "civil rights abuses." Opponents of the death penalty also got targeted (in case they got violent).
Truth tellers who give Americans too much insight are vulnerable to an arsenal of judicial weapons typical of China or Mynamar. In the Patriot Act, the government has created a powerful tool to hunt out free thinking on the left or right. Anyone who opposes government policy is at risk.
How do I know this? Because I was the second non-Arab American ever indicted on the Patriot Act. My arrest defied all expectations about the law. I was no terrorist plotting to explode the Washington Monument. Quite the opposite, I had worked in anti-terrorism for almost a decade, covering Iraq and Libya, Yemen, Egypt and Malaysia at the United Nations. At the instruction of my CIA handler, I had delivered advance warnings about the 9/11 attack to the private staff of Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Office of Counter-Terrorism in August, 2001. FBI wiretaps prove that I carried details of a comprehensive peace framework with Iraq up and down the hallowed corridors of Capitol Hill for months before the invasion, arguing that War was totally unnecessary.I delivered those papers to Democrats and Republicans alike; to my own second cousin, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card; and to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who lived next door to my CIA handler. Gratis of the Patriot Act, we had the manila envelope and my hand written notes to Secretary Powell, dated a week before his infamous speech at the United Nations. My papers argued that no WMDs would be found inside Iraq, and that the peace framework could achieve all U.S. objectives without firing a shot.
In short, I was an Asset who loudly opposed War with Iraq, and made every effort to correct mistaken assumptions on Capitol Hill.
Then I did the unthinkable. I phoned the offices of Senator Trent Lott and Senator John McCain, requesting to testify before a brand new, blue ribbon Commission investigating Pre-War Intelligence. Proud and confident of my efforts, I had no idea Congress was planning to blame "bad intelligence" for the unpopular War.
Over night I became Public Enemy Number One on Capitol Hill.
Thirty days later I awoke to hear FBI agents pounding on my door. My Patriot Act nightmare lasted 5 years --- Four years after my arrest, the Court granted me one morning of evidentiary testimony by two supremely credible witnesses. Parke Godfrey verified my 9/11 warnings under oath. Otherwise, I never got my day in Court.
The Patriot Act's Arsenal to Stop Free Speech
Progressive or conservative, if you care about America's traditions of freedom, you should be angry about this law.
First come the warrantless searches and FBI tracking surveillance. My work in anti-terrorism gave me no protection. I got my first of two warrantless searches after meeting an undercover FBI agent to discuss my support for free elections in Iraq and my opposition to torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqi detainees. (Sorry guys, body wires don't lie.)
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