View Full Version : What is our Congress trying to do???

02-07-2006, 12:23 PM
This is troubling

The secret police and political dissent

Guest Commentary by John Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute

Once upon a time, a handful of colonists, fed up with being arrested and jailed for speaking out, decided to take on the British Empire. These great dissenters won the war. And when it came time to write the Constitution, they made sure that they included the rights to free speech and to protest by enshrining these essential freedoms in the First Amendment.

Unfortunately, many of us have not learned the lessons that our forefathers tried to teach us. Indeed, as we move further into the new millennium, the American government increasingly resembles the empire against which our ancestors fought.

This fact was made abundantly clear with the passage of the USA Patriot Act and more recently with the revelation that President Bush bypassed federal law in approving warrantless electronic surveillance of Americans. And a new bill, sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), gives the Secret Service unbridled authority to suppress political dissent-one of the most basic and essential elements of democracy.

The proposed law, with the Orwellian title “Secret Service Authorization and Technical Modification Act of 2005,” states: “It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons to willfully and knowingly enter any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.” Without defining what a “special event of national significance” is, the provision continues: “It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons to willfully, knowingly, and with intent engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any building or grounds designated a special event of national significance.” The phrase “engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct” is not defined, either. This means that whatever constitutes an event of “national significance” or “disruptive conduct” is left entirely to the discretion of the secret police.

And the penalty for breaking this law would increase the maximum imprisonment from 6 months to 10 years if committed with a weapon or 1 year if committed without a weapon.

The proposed law also creates a new federal police force: “There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the ‘United States Secret Service Uniformed Division.'” And: “Under the direction of the Director of the Secret Service, members of the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division are authorized to carry firearms; make arrests without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence.”

This law reaches a legitimate and necessary concern. And to the extent that it merely intends to protect the President without trampling on the civil liberties of Americans, the law makes sense. But that is precisely the problem-it provides law enforcement officials broad authority and discretion over our most basic rights. By giving federal agents the ability to prevent a citizen from attending a political event based on the belief-unfounded or not-that they will protest or speak unfavorably about the government, the law violates the right to speak freely on matters of public concern. After all, at the heart of the First Amendment is the ability to criticize the government and have an open and free discussion about its policies. The law also allows these new federal police agents the power to arrest and conduct warrantless searches, arguably in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

All this despite the fact that federal law currently provides criminal penalties for entering a restricted area where the President or other person is protected by the Secret Service. However, even under current law, the Secret Service has participated in harassment of individuals who have appeared at taxpayer-funded forums with the President if they are perceived to disagree with the Bush Administration's position.

For example, on March 21, 2005, two Denver students who had obtained tickets from their Congressman were expelled from a “town hall” forum because they had an anti-war bumper sticker on their car. Officials, including one who identified himself as a Secret Service agent, told the students the event was limited to audience members who shared the President's views and that they would have to leave, even if they had no intention of disrupting the event. It apparently made no difference that the topic of the forum was Social Security reform, not the Iraq war. Similar incidents have occurred at presidential visits throughout the country.

The new law could seriously worsen the impact on free speech by banning any form of dissent, peaceful or not. It would allow the Secret Service, in effect, to declare martial law, cordon off areas and enforce exclusion zones at any event deemed a “special event of national significance.” This even if no Secret Service protectee were scheduled to speak or attend.

In fact, it most likely would be used against groups from diverse political backgrounds. For example, if the Secret Service declares the next U.N. conference on population control an “event of national significance,” it could arrest members of anti-abortion groups who want to protest. And under this new law, the Secret Service could shut down areas throughout the conference and arrest any potential protester who might violate the zone.

Sadly, the targets of the Secret Service under this law will not be terrorists or threats to national security. Perhaps that is the problem with post-9/11 America-the cloud of fear is so pervasive that we can no longer make commonsense judgments about own security and safety.

All law enforcement officers-federal, state and local-take an oath to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States. And while many of them make a commendable effort to fulfill this obligation, others fail to understand the very document they swore to uphold. Countless congressional actions are passed every year seeking to address legitimate and pressing problems. But many of them, like this one, naively assume that they will be enforced by individuals who have a clear understanding of and appreciation for our Bill of Rights.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He can be contacted at [email protected]

Workin' 4 Toys
02-07-2006, 02:11 PM
I don't know the answer to your question, but I am impressed with your typing ability................:rolleyes:

02-07-2006, 02:23 PM
the king of copy and paste :toast:

captain planet
02-07-2006, 02:35 PM
Milk, I read this article and I agree with it as most people would. Our civil liberties are under attack. But the sad thing is, we won't be able to have a discussion about this here because, for some stupid reason nobody wants to talk about what is happening in this country. I find it disturbing that these types of things can go on and most people just don't care.

It's sad, really sad. :noface:

captain planet
02-08-2006, 08:30 AM
See, I told you nobody would shed any light on this topic or comment on it.

Sad. :noface:

Workin' 4 Toys
02-08-2006, 11:27 AM
I kept clear because I hate to debate politics among friends. Sorry if that offends you.

captain planet
02-08-2006, 11:36 AM
Not offended, just troubled.

Workin' 4 Toys
02-08-2006, 11:40 AM
I am sure there are an awful lot of people here that could do alot better job than I at debating any political agenda. I am assuming most have the same opinion as me thats it why no one commented. I know there are some strong opinions out there are these subjects. And there are other forums for that.

02-08-2006, 11:43 AM
I'm gona throw a little religon in this too.There is talk about incerting microchips in sex offenders to "make it easier to track their movements." Useing the name of sefety for the public, they want to violate a persons civil rights. Kinda like 911 laws. My big concern is writings in the book of Revelations talking about "marking" citizens and the comming of the end.Makes ya think don't it.Every day our governmant makes laws designed to limit the publics freedom.Until people open their eyes and do something about it(vote) it's gona get worse. :twocents: Sorry, I'm being 'that guy' again.

02-08-2006, 01:11 PM
Look out, the guys in the black helicopters are circling.

But seriously, can we throw a little "common sense" into this, too?

We live in a "free" society and everyone is granted certain rights and certain privileges. Don't confuse the two. There are no absolutes, either.

Your "freedom" to join NAMBLA and to molest little boys is not guaranteed under our system of law because you would be infringing on someone else's rights.

Our system of law removes certain privileges for those who cannot live within the constructs of our society.

Generally speaking, in society today Governments, Private corporations, and private citizens have the right to conduct video surveillance:

In retail stores
In liquor stores
In 7 - 11's
In department stores
In banks
In private offices
In government offices
On public streets
At public sporting venues
On private residences
At ATM machines
In casino's
In restaurants

And there are probably quite a few more.

I wish people would stop worrying about these conceptual "perceived" threats and start living in the real world.

Also, every time you pay for anything with a credit card, or use your "discount card" at the grocery store, "personal" information is being tracked.

But lets all worry about the convicted child molestors "Right" for complete anonymity and the ability to go grab someone elses kids or grandkids.

02-08-2006, 08:41 PM
Well put all, i really don't like to comment on the way that the country is being run, only becuase its not going to pay off for me to pi$$ and moan about something I could never change. I just think that maybe the govn't should think a lot about the future, it seems like we are running everything by "living in the now" Just my worthless opinion...

02-09-2006, 08:29 AM
All I can say is.... I'm not offended if they listen in to all of my international calls. If it means that the next time I fly, the plane lands safely - I'm a happy camper.

02-09-2006, 08:48 AM
First of all, this is only a proposed law which may (hopefully will) get struck down on the Senate floor.
Second, if you live in PA and vote for Arlen Specter after this, well then -- thanks a lot buddy... :cool:
Third, if you don't live in PA and feel strongly about this law you should at least let your senators know how you feel.
Finally, if you don't live in PA and vote to re-elect any Congressman who votes to pass this law, shame on you. :noface:

02-09-2006, 10:07 AM
Workin'- it's a good thing the Colonists had no problem debating and discussing politics with their friends, or we would all have British accents.

The colonies had laws against unlawful assembly that didn't come from Parliament, which they used against the British troops when they came over to enforce several new acts. Britain was trying to force the colonists to pay taxes on things that they didn't necessarily want, wouldn't necessarily need and never asked for or demanded. For example, an American trapper could trap, skin and sell pelts but couldn't make a fnished product from them. They were required to send the skins to England, a finished product would be sent back (whether it was from the same skin is debatable) and the shipping (both ways) was paid by the Americans. Same thing with iron- they could smelt the iron but were required to send it to England, paying for the shipping in both directions, and couldn't manufacture what they needed or wanted. All of this without any kind of proper representation in Parliament. I'm not aware that the British actually had jails in America (most likely, they kept the prisoners at their forts) for housing people arrested for protesting and civil disobedience since the colonists worked their butts off to not live under British Law, but made their own laws, based on the British Constitution. Britain had certain governors and representatives in the colonies who were essentially "puppets", but after the colonists became highly agitated by the Crown, they were generally run out of government and replaced.

The difference in the US is that we are represented in Congress and while most representatives and senators do a lousy job of looking out for us, I think some of them would be making a lot of noise if what was said in the article, actually happens.

Maybe we should send a copy of the article to our senators and representatives with a demand for a reply. If the article is accurate, it's not a good thing. I personally think it's a little far-fetched, but I could be wrong. Where's Matt Drudge when you need him?

I'm sure there is a political forum where we could look into this further and discuss it.

Workin' 4 Toys
02-09-2006, 10:18 AM
Workin'- it's a good thing the Colonists had no problem debating and discussing politics with their friends, or we would all have British accents
I agree....... See, "avoid the debate";)

You want to razzle me about religion too now......8p

02-09-2006, 10:41 AM
Only if we were in a bar.

Workin' 4 Toys
02-09-2006, 10:47 AM
Only if we were in a bar.

Let's make it happen.. Here is my list of preferences..
If I knew where you were we could arrange that.

02-09-2006, 11:02 PM
This little tidbit was in my local paper tonight (Defiance Ohio Crescent News)
36 have been accused of spousal abuse
7 have been arrested for fraud
19 have been charged with writing bad checks
117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted atleast two buisnesses
3 have served jail time for assult
71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
14 have been arrested on drug related charges
8 have been arrested for shoplifting
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
84 have been arrested for drunk driveing in the last year

Can you guess what one group these numbers represent?

Give up yet?

You gessed it... members of the United States Congress! :rant: