Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027
Phone (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959
January 8, 2004
Is This Your America? Secret Laws and Public Prisons
PART I: SECRET LAWS
"While the nation was distracted last month by images of Saddam Hussein's spider hole and dental exam, President George W. Bush quietly signed into law a new bill that gives the FBI increased surveillance powers and dramatically expands the reach of the USA Patriot Act."
These are the opening lines of a new article in Wired magazine, "Bush Grabs New Power for FBI."
What Congress did was to take some of the worst provisions of the notorious "Patriot Act II"a draft bill furiously rejected by the American peopleand sneak them into a must-pass appropriations bill. Your representatives just gave the FBI the (unconstitutional) authority to snoop into your records at any financial institution without any form of court order whatsoever. And remember, the federal government recently re-defined "financial institutions" to include car dealers, real estate agents, coin dealers, jewelers, the post office, and even your Internet service provider!
The article goes on to say:
"The so-called Patriot Act II was discovered by the Center for Public Integrity last year, which exposed the draft legislation and initiated a public outcry that forced the government to back down on its plans.
"But critics say the government didn't abandon its goals after the uproar; it simply extracted the most controversial provisions from Patriot Act II and slipped them surreptitiously into other bills, such as the Intelligence Authorization Act, to avoid raising alarm.
"[James] Dempsey [executive director of the Center for Democracy & Technology,] said the Intelligence Authorization Act is a favorite vehicle of politicians for expanding government powers without careful scrutiny. The bill, because of its sensitive nature, is generally drafted in relative secrecy and approved without extensive debate because it is viewed as a "must-pass" piece of legislation. The act provides funding for intelligence agencies.
"'It's hard for the average member to vote against it,' said Dempsey, 'so it makes the perfect vehicle for getting what you want without too much fuss.'"
That's right. The will of the American people is simply "too much fuss."
PART II: PUBLIC PRISONS
Now along comes another article that seems unrelatedbut these two stories are in fact, one in the same.
Paul Craig Roberts, that astute watchdog of the U.S. justice system, writes today about three Americans sent to federal prison in this country for eight yearsfor violating a *Honduran* law it took federal agents six months even to uncover. Seems the hapless citizens were selling lobster tails shipped to them in plastic bags instead of cardboard boxes. Even the Honduran government has protested the outrage. But no one's listening. (http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts24.html)
And governments (especially the federal government) don't want to listen.
According to the online reference Wikipedia (http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_prison_population), of all the prisoners rotting in all the jails around the globe nearly 1/4nearly one in fourare in the United States.
"Russia, which is currently in the process of releasing a number of improperly incarcerated citizens, has a[n incarceration] rate of 644 per 100,000, and a 2002 total [prison] population of around 900,000. For the most part, the U.S. rate is five to eight times that of the Western European nations and Canada. The rate in England and Wales, for example, is 139 persons imprisoned per 100,000 residents while in Norway it is 59 per 100,000."
In the free and freedom loving U.S., 474 out of every 100,000 people are in prisonthe majority of them for non-violent offenses. That's more than two million individuals, about one in every 143 Americans.
Dr. Roberts notes, "Naive Americans tend to regard miscarriages of justice, such as the lobster import case, as rare examples of legal idiocy that somehow will be corrected by the legal system. However, such cases are routine and are seldom if ever corrected. In America today law enforcement boils down to the exercise of power by unaccountable prosecutors. Justice is not served by ensnaring the innocent. ...
"Americans are uninformed about the tyrannical nature of their criminal justice system. Until they become personally ensnared in the system, Americans believe that police and prosecutors would never convict an innocent person. Once they experience the system, Americans are terrified by the system's indifference to whether a defendant has committed a crime."
TWO STORIES, ONE MORAL
So there they are. Two very different stories, one from the legislative branch and one from the judicial, with the assistance of the executive.
But they grow from the same root. And they feed on the same nutrients.
Both outrages spring from an attitude that threatens to consume what little is left of our republica republic in which citizens were sovereign and the government served only with citizens' consent.
This attitude is: Government can do whatever it wantsand citizens must be either manipulated or coerced into serving the government's purposes.
Both stories also show how the government feeds on the people. Secret lawsof which the "Patriot Act II" outrage is only one recent exampleare impossible to obey. Secret laws and harsh violations for paperwork errors help fill courtroom dockets, and eventually prisons, with confused and abused citizens.
This is NOT how a government of free people works!
The government of a free nation of informed citizens does not needand would not wantto enact its policies through secret rulings or secret legislation.
The government of a free nation would not need to snoop into any peaceable citizen's business, and would certainly never seize private records without a court order. This is how communist East Germany operated. The Bill of Rights forbids such things from legally being done in the U.S.
The government of a free nation would not waste taxpayers money and human lives on prosecutions whose only purpose is so prosecutors can run up impressive conviction statistics.
The government of a free nation would never desire to imprison the innocentlet alone go out of its way to do so.
The two developments aboveand hundreds more revelations from the last two U.S. administrationsuncover a pattern of government by ruthlessness, government by deception, government by brute force, government by paranoia, government by by arrogance, government by "whatever we can get away with." Above all, they are signs that any real rule of the people, by the people, and for the people is dead, dead,dead.
OUR ONE HOPE: PEOPLE POWER
The executive branch has become brutally dominantone of the key signs of a developing police state. Congress has totally abdicated its responsibilities to become a mere rubber stamp for the will of the executive branchanother police state characteristic. The courts, too, routinely put their stamp of approval on the worst abuses of federal power, then they add their own consuming will to punishagain, both deeds are those of an incipient police state.
There is only one power left in America that gives us any hope of redemption or restoration as a free land: People Powerthe power of the people to rise up and demand a return of rights and liberty
We admit that even People Power has only a slight hope of restoring America. Few citizens seem to care, and the government is often ruthless in attempting to silence the few who do care and do resist its grasp.
Nevertheless, People Poweryour poweris the only power remaining that can restore liberty in the face of such corruption and outrageous injustice.
The foundation of all People Power is knowledge. Before we can restore freedom, we must persuade our friends and neighbors to understand and appreciate freedom.
We can't tell you how the battle for freedom will come out, but we can tell you where the fight begins: with the Bill of Rights. It doesn't require complex legal or philosophical arguments to begin restoring freedom. All it takes is reminding people that they possessed certain rights *before any government ever existed*, and to remind them that the Bill of Rights is a declaration and affirmation of the most important rights of individualsincluding they, themselves, and the beloved members of their families and their communities.
The government, though its arrogant use of power, has trampled the Bill of Rights in the dirt under its feet. But pick that Bill up, dust it off, show it to everyone you know and *explain why it matters* (especially explain it to children and students) ... and we have real hope of taking our country back.
Here are some resources that can help in the battle:
The Bill of Rights with modern-language explanationsYou'll find it in 11 languages at http://www.jpfo.org/bor.htm.
The State vs. the People: The Rise of the American Police State This book by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelmanwhich is probably on the government's list of top 10 books to burn will show you exactly what a police state is and how our own government is growing to resemble one. (http://www.jpfo.org/tsvtp.htm)
"The Last of the BOHICANS"Read this article (http://www.jpfo.org/bohica.htm) and practice alternatives to the useless practices of politics-as-usual
"Reach Out for the Bill of Rights"Then use this article to find common ground with people in other parts of the political spectrum who may share your convictions about fundamental liberties. (http://www.jpfo.org/outreach.htm)
This may be a long and difficult fight. We may not win. But if we don't put heart and soul into restoring the Bill of Rights for all citizens, the alternative is more deadly than any battle. The alternative is surrendering to the growing tyranny of the American police state.
The growth of government power is like the growth of a tumor in our flesh. A Band-Aid approach won't fix it. We mustall of uscut the cancer of all-powerful, all-ruthless government out of our society.
The Liberty Crew
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