SENATE PASSES ANTI-TERRORIST BILL
The Senate passed S_735, their "you are all terrorists" bill, on to the House of Representatives this month. The House has passed its own version, HR_1710, out of committee. These bills have some particularly odious passages. There is an expansion of the budget for the BATF of $20 million per year through 2000. There is expansion of Federal wire-tapping authority. There is authority for use of military forces in local law enforcement. There is an extension to the statute-of-limitations on the 1934 Firearms Act. A number of amendments attacking the Constitution were beaten back in passing the Senate bill, but Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) promised that they would be submitted as separate bills later in this session.
The Senate bill, which was proposed by our Republican "friends" in the Senate, and the one put forward by Representative Hyde (R-IL) and crowd (including our own Bono) are direct attacks on the Constitution. These legislators would like to place restrictions and oversight on people and activities which threaten them. Many of the provisions are pointed directly at groups which disagree with the established politically-correct position of politicians now in office.
One provision would give the President authority to declare any group or person "terrorist." There would be no provision for appeal and no trial or finding of fact. Any "terrorists" so declared by the President would forfeit their rights as citizens of the United States and could be penalized for speaking out against or otherwise protesting government policies and activities. Groups and members of groups designated by the President as "terrorist groups" would not be allowed to raise or accept funds. The definition of "terrorist" activities to be used by the President in these declarations is, "anything that is intended to coerce, intimidate or retaliate against a government or urban population." This means that if you attempt to intimidate your hired hand in Congress by threatening to withhold your vote, you can be classed as a "terrorist." While that idea might stretch the intent of the proposed law, it would be the law. It would be up the discretion of the President (and his staff) to decide whether you are a "terrorist." (They wouldn't do that. Would they? - ecr)
A provision in the bill would allow the use of Army, Navy or Air Force personnel against civilians in enforcement of federal or local laws. One provision states that one reason for calling out the Standing Army against civilian citizens of the United States would be to assist in enforcing laws against "weapons of mass destruction." Existing federal law definition of "weapons of mass destruction" includes all firearms. The Founding Fathers had a reasoned fear of standing armies. We are beginning to see one of those reasons.
A provision of the bill will grant the FBI, IRS, DEA, BATF, the military and other government agencies the authority to infiltrate and investigate any group they suspect might be involved in "terrorist" activities. This means groups involved in pro-life, pro-choice, Christian right, pro-gun, animal rights, or other such activities could expect to have government agents wandering about in their membership and leadership, fomenting and fostering as they did to protest groups in the sixties. (They wouldn't do that. Would they? - ecr)
A provision of the bill sets up a "special court," "special prosecutors" and "special attorneys" for deportation hearings. The proceedings of this "special court" could be kept secret and has special provisions preventing defendants' access to evidence and witnesses.
A provision of the bill prohibits caching of any material which might be of use in "terrorist" activities. This would include food, clothing, fuel, communications equipment, medicine, water or shelter. If followed literally, this would make all practicing Mormons "terrorists." (They wouldn't do that. Would they? - ecr)
A provision of the bill authorizes increased wiretapping and monitoring powers. They would be able to tap your phones and monitor your activities if you are ever visited by a person whom they are monitoring. This additional monitoring would not require additional warrants. Federal agencies would be allowed to obtain bank records, credit records, hotel and travel records, monitor credit card, bank and other financial transactions. The State Department would become a law enforcement agency, with jurisdiction in matters of passports, visas and international travel. A provision would place conspiracy to commit an illegal act on the same footing as having actually committed that act. It has been long held that thinking and talking about an act is not necessarily a crime. This bill would change that. The bill would recognize minor paper work violations of Federal firearms regulations as "conspiracy" to commit "terrorism." Linking this with the definition of "terrorism" found above, you could spend 10 years in prison for "appearing to have intended to coerce, intimidate or retaliate against a government or civilian population." (They wouldn't do that. Would they? - ecr)
You need to get on your hired hands in DC and have them work against S_735 and HR_1710. There are others out there which need attention, also, but are not as active as these two. When you contact your hired hands, make sure you tell them you are concerned about the intrusions against the Constitution by all of these so-called anti-terrorist bills.