Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

June 30, 2004

Patriot Act

Filed under: Bunker's Favorites,Government — Bunker @ 9:03 am

Because of the confusion regarding the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001 (gotta love those Congressional staffers and their acronyms!), I did a little research to see just what the Patriot Act really said. It is 132 pages long in PDF format, and difficult to follow at times as it amends existing laws by replacement or addition of words out of context within this document itself. Relative to other Federal laws, it really isn’t that extensive.

I first went to Thomas at the Library of Congress where the official register of legislative activity is maintained for public consumption. At the time I didn’t know precisely what section of the Federal Code the law was placed in, so I did a search on “Patriot Act” and found about 40 references, including the current bills to rescind the “sunset clause”. But, no version of the law itself. Google took me to the ACLU web site. There they have a PDF of the law, and a flyer with their concerns. I thought it might be a good idea to look at their concerns and verify them in reading the law. These are the issues identified in the law itself:

Expands terrorism laws to include “domestic terrorism” which could subject political organizations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and criminal action for political advocacy.

Expands the ability of law enforcement to conduct secret searches, gives them wide powers of phone and Internet surveillance, and access to highly personal medical, financial, mental health, and student records with minimal judicial oversight. Allows FBI Agents to investigate American citizens for criminal matters without probable cause of crime if they say it is for “intelligence purposes.”

Permits non-citizens to be jailed based on mere suspicion and to be denied re-admission to the US for engaging in free speech. Suspects convicted of no crime may be detained indefinitely in six month increments without meaningful judicial review.

Personally, I don’t know what they really mean by “minimal judicial oversight” and “meaningful judicial review. Nothing in the law allows law enforcement to take actions without judicial approval–warrants are required. additionally, it requires the Attorney general to appear before Congress and detail those investigations:


“(a) On a semiannual basis, the Attorney General shall fully inform the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate concerning all requests for the production of tangible things under section 402.

“(b) On a semiannual basis, the Attorney General shall provide to the Committees on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Senate a report setting forth with respect to the preceding 6-month period–

“(1) the total number of applications made for orders approving requests for the production of tangible things under section 402; and

“(2) the total number of such orders either granted, modified, or denied.”.

Their concern that political organizations might be subject to investigation might be warranted if this hadn’t already been covered by Congressional oversight as well:


“(i) TO CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS.–Seven days before making a designation under this subsection, the Secretary shall, by classified communication, notify the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, the President pro tempore, Majority Leader, and Minority Leader of the Senate, and the members of the relevant committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate, in writing, of the intent to designate an organization under this subsection, together with the findings made under paragraph (1) with respect to that organization, and the factual basis therefor.

“(ii) PUBLICATION IN FEDERAL REGISTER.–The Secretary shall publish the designation in the Federal Register seven days after providing the notification under clause (i).”

This refers to the requirement for any group to be subject to surveillance under the law to be designated by the Secretary of State, with review by Congress, and the name of the organization published in the Federal Register. Not very secretive.

Other concerns of the ACLU outlined in their flyer have to do with Executive actions already in place:

8,000 Arab and South Asian immigrants have been interrogated because of their religion or ethnic background, not because of actual wrongdoing.

This is the standard “law enforcement” approach to anti-terrorism which was extant prior to 9/11. There is no mention of whether these “immigrants” are here legally or not, whether “wrongdoing” includes only terrorism laws or any petty crimes, or if there may have been links with these folks to other, known terrorists or organizations. The implication is that they were simply questioned based on their being (presumedly) Muslim. I doubt law enforcement has time to pick up people at random.

Thousands of men, mostly of Arab and South Asian origin, have been held in secretive federal custody for weeks and months, sometimes without any charges filed against them. The government has refused to publish their names and whereabouts, even when ordered to do so by the courts.

This is reference to, I believe, detainees at Gitmo. There is good reason not to publish their names: Accomplices will operate in the dark. I don’t know whether it is common practice for the ACLU to insist on the publication of names for “ordinary” criminals or not. If someone is looking for this person, they might be smart to ask the Feds if that person is in custody. Or maybe they don’t want to risk that. Further, an “armed combatant” is not a criminal detainee, but more akin to a prisoner of war. POWS, for example, are held indefinitely to keep them from rejoining the fight. The Geneva Accords we hear so much about prohibit a captured soldier from returning to battle. Yet some detainees who were released have already rejoined the fight. There are oversight provisions for this as well:

“(6) LIMITATION ON INDEFINITE DETENTION.–An alien detained solely under paragraph (1) who has not been removed under section 241(a)(1)(A), and whose removal is unlikely in the reasonably foreseeable future, may be detained for additional periods of up to six months only if the release of the alien will threaten the national security of the United States or the safety of the community or any person.

That falls under the semi-annual review by Congress.

The press and the public have been barred from immigration court hearings of those detained after September 11th and the courts are ordered to keep secret even that the hearings are taking place.

Why is it important for deportation hearings to be public? If fact is all that matters, why open the hearing to people wanting to make a political point? Here is the judicial oversight the ACLU says it wants, yet even that doesn’t satisfy what they really want. So what do they want?

The government is allowed to monitor communications between federal detainees and their lawyers, destroying the attorney/client privilege and threatening the right to counsel.

Any court presented with eveidence gleaned from such monitoring would throw it out. The reason for monitoring such discussion is to get leads on other groups or planned operations. Let’s not let an attack actually take place if we can avoid it.

New Attorney General Guidelines allow FBI spying on religious and political organizations and individuals without having evidence of wrongdoing.

As explained above, he can’t do this unless the group is on the approved list published in the Federal Register.

President Bush has ordered military commissions to be set up to try suspected terrorists who are not citizens. They can convict based on hearsay and secret evidence by only two-thirds vote.

A two-thirds majority is standard for military courts-martial. I don’t like the idea of unanimous jury decisions for the most part because a defense attorney can focus his attentions on a single juror and get an acquittal.

American citizens suspected of terrorism are being held indefinitely in military custody without being charged and without access to lawyers.

Actually, I heard John Kerry phrase it in a slightly different manner. He said lawyers aren’t being given access to detainees. Which do you think is more important in his mind? Why, then, is there concern about attorney/client privilege? I can’t think of a single American citizen being held in this condition. Perhaps there are. The ones I am aware of just recently had their hearings before the Supreme Court.

That’s as simple an explanation as I can give in this forum. I would recommend anyone with concerns about the law itself to download a copy and read it. I bet I’m one of the very few non-lawyers in this country who have done it. As John mentioned in a comment on an earlier post, the sunset clause is a good thing. It makes Congress go back and address the issues after some time in place. I only wish they would do this with some intellectual integrity rather than in a political mode.


La Shawn provided this link to a debate on this issue.

June 29, 2004


Filed under: International — Bunker @ 6:57 pm

The Power Of Scraps is our Curmudgeon’s tale of the transfer of power in Iraq.

Can you think of another country which has done this? Great Britain left India with a new government, but only after years of anguish. Yet many will make light of this transfer.

The Declaration of Independence is nothing but a scrap of paper if you have no sense of the commitment by the men who signed it. What did they risk? Everything. And many of them lost everything as an end result. Except their dream for what would become the United States.

I think it would be worthwhile to remember that event in our history, especially as we approach its anniversary. With resolve, the Iraqis will be able to do the same for 28 June in their future.


Filed under: International — Bunker @ 11:42 am

Sam says the Arab media were taken by surprise with the early turnover of sovereignty to the new Iraq:

All the Arab media appaeared confused and in disarry while trying to set out propaganda in hurry. They tried their best to get some of the pro-Wahabi mullahs and Anti-American propagandists to full the gabs.

Alaa has other sentiments to express:

Hail our true friends, the Great People of the United States of America; The Freedom giving Republic, the nation of Liberators. Never has the world known such a nation, willing to spill the blood of her children and spend the treasure of her land even for the sake of the freedom and well being of erstwhile enemies. The tree of friendship is going to grow and grow and bear fruit as sure as day follows night. And the people deep down at the bottom of their hearts, they appreciate. Make no mistake about that.

I hope he is right.

Jacques Chirac

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 6:56 am

Mr Chirac is at it again, complaining that someone else missed an opportunity to keep quiet. This time, he pointed his anger at Dubya.

Stung by Mr Bush’s call for the EU to give Turkey a firm date for accession, Mr Chirac responded: “He not only went too far but he has gone into a domain which is not his own.

“He has nothing to say on this subject. It is as if I were to tell the United States how it should conduct its relations with Mexico.”

Well, it’s not quite the same thing. Turkey is a member of NATO, and more of an ally than France. And the occasion of Bush’s remarks was a meeting with Turkish leaders where he offered his hope that Turkey’s membership in the EU would be looked at soon.

France is not our ally. Even in the 1960s when I lived there, only a decade after we liberated them from the Nazis, there was substantial animosity toward America. During the Cuban Missile Crisis we were told to stay home and avoid contact with the French out of concern they would take sides with the Soviet Union on the issue, and we would be in danger.

De Gaulle pulled the French military out of NATO years ago, which means (in my mind) they really aren’t a member nation at all. NATO is a defense organization. Why be a member if your military isn’t involved?

A summit communique declared that in response to the Iraqi interim government’s appeal for help, “we have decided today to offer NATO’s assistance to the government of Iraq with the training of its security forces”.

NATO officials said they could not say what numbers would be involved but, while US officials evoked “a huge undertaking”, French officials insisted there would be “no NATO flag” in Iraq.

I guess Chirac feels his UN veto power extends to NATO as well.

June 28, 2004

Give the man a Silver Star

Filed under: Military — Bunker @ 7:29 pm

John Ray linked to this letter in the Pasadena Star News:

“I see in the news that an American soldier is going to be court-martialed for killing a wounded terrorist in Iraq. Well pardon me but isn’t that exactly what John Kerry did in Vietnam and he got a Silver Star for it! While in Vietnam, John Kerry finished off a wounded Viet Cong after beaching his boat and putting his crew in great jeopardy. He wrote himself up for a Silver Star and got it. I question why this soldier should be tried for murder while John Kerry, hero of the liberal left, was decorated for doing exactly the same thing. In accordance with International Law, terrorists are subject to immediate summary execution. Perhaps that is the policy that we should adopt. Instead, we are incarcerating these clowns and are criticized for abuse, while they behead American prisoners. And the international press says nothing. We really need to grow up and stop fighting this war like a bunch of liberal social workers. If we do not get things in a proper perspective and start supporting our President and troops we are going to lose this war!”

Why didn’t I think of that?


Filed under: Engineering — Bunker @ 6:01 pm

Well, I kinda like the monochrome version that’s been up all day. But there are a few things I need to work on. So, the GREEN is back…for a while, anyway.


Filed under: Golf — Bunker @ 7:48 am

Some time ago I wrote about Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs as it relates to where we stand after 9/11 in a political sense. Yesterday on the golf course, Maslow came up once again.

Some researcher has spent a lot of time and money (federal money I would guess) to determine that human beings have three basic drives: food, sex, and love. I made the comment that Maslow came up with that years ago, and another of my playing partners made a much more prescient comment. I’ll call it Clary’s Correlary:

Food, Sex, Belonging, and Scratch Golf.

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