In the Time of Disappeared People
Patriot II means Permanent National Emergency





The Bush men have obviously been pondering the imposition of Permanent National Emergency for as long as they have been planning Permanent War. The discovery of a draft of the so-called Patriot Act II, rushed forward by Bush's national security conspirators in January for review by their allies on Capitol Hill, presents the public with a warning of - but not a defense against - a cunningly devised blueprint for the modern, total police state. Combined with the Patriot I, enacted immediately after September 11 by a nearly unanimous Congress, and through gross distortions of existing conspiracy laws plus the catch-22s of secrecy, Patriot II is the perfect tool to "disappear" any number of human beings for any reason to any place for any length of time.

Patriot II destroys the very meaning of citizenship, allowing its arbitrary revocation based on secret evidence, thereby rendering the Constitution a nullity. It is a careful design to abolish the rule of law.

It may not matter whether Patriot II becomes law or not. The document is less a draft bill than a plan and guidance for a kind of martial law - with the "law" part left out. The editors of Harper's Weekly Review for February 10, craftsmen of encapsulation, boiled the abomination down to its essentials:

A copy of the Justice Department's proposed expansion of the USA Patriot Act was leaked to the Center for Public Integrity. The draft bill, entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, contains proposals to radically expand the authority of law-enforcement agencies, to increase the surveillance of American citizens, and to reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over that surveillance; it would also authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database of "suspected terrorists," create new death penalties, and empower the government to strip American citizenship from anyone who "provides material support" to a terrorist organization.

When the axe man comes for your head, lesser extremities diminish in importance. Patriot II is a plan to decapitate the Constitution by removing the impediment of citizenship rights, without which the Bill of Rights is just a piece of paper. Yale Law professor Jack M. Balkin caught his breath long enough to register his astonishment in a February 18 article for the Los Angeles Times.

Perhaps the most troubling section would strip U.S. citizenship from anyone who gives "material support" to any group that the attorney general designates as a terrorist organization. Citizenship is the most basic right of all Americans, one from which other rights - such as the right to vote, to participate in politics and even to live in this country - all flow. Under our Constitution, Americans can't be deprived of their citizenship and the rights that go with it unless they voluntarily give it up.

The measure would get around that constitutional guarantee through a legal loophole. It presumes that anyone who provides "material support" to an organization on the attorney general's blacklist - even if that support is otherwise lawful - has intended to relinquish citizenship and therefore may be immediately expatriated.

"Material support" is whatever "they" claim it to be. "They" don't have to tell you what support you gave, or to whom. Secret arrest means no one knows you were taken. Secret charges mean you will not know what to defend yourself against, and since you have disappeared....

The draft of Patriot II was supposed to be a secret, too, concealed from all but the politically reliable few. Yet legislation is public business, so what is the point of secrecy?

Patriot II is not meant as legislation at all. It cannot possibly be enacted under even what passes for "normal" conditions of life, today, and would never stand judicial review. No, Patriot II is, as we previously described it, a "plan and guidance" for the Bush security apparatus, to be acted upon without legislative approval at a time and under pretexts chosen by the administration. Once full-scale hostilities in Iraq or elsewhere begin, or immediately upon an attack on the United States (or "discovery" of plots for attacks, or staged attacks) the Bush men are prepared to proceed as if Patriot II is law, under emergency decree.

Or possibly, without a decree. The minds that devised this law/plan/guide have every intention of using the powers contained therein. The document was rushed to legislative members of the cabal for informational purposes, in haste to keep up with the movement of men and arms to the Middle East and the universe of pretexts that arise with war.

We now know what Bush's intentions are: to abolish the legal foundations of civil society. We are about to be violated in ways that only a savage could imagine. The Time of Disappeared People is near upon us.

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Issue Number 31
February 27, 2003

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Other commentaries in this issue:

Commentary 1
Al Sharpton’s Battle to Transform the Democrats

The Issues
Clarence Thomas and his Latino clone... The dollar's global death-grip... Bush must co-sign for Turkey money

Dying for the almighty dollar... The "new" Colin Powell... The Moseley-Braun - Sharpton debate

Guest Commentary
Fear, Loathing and Laura Bush: Reflections on the Functions of Mass Panic - By Tim Wise

Commentaries in Issue 30 February 20, 2003:

Why African Americans Should Oppose The War By Dr. Sonja Ebron

Moseley-Braun and the Game to Contain Sharpton

The Issues
Massive affirmative action endorsements... War to defend the almighty dollar... Who owns the streets?

Inside Crazy George’s head... Powell as war criminal: 1968, 2003... The Cave Man calleth

from the Marble Jungle
Testing Head Start to Death by Mark S. Johnson-Lewis

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.