An Open Letter to the Tea Party from a Concerned Liberal by Timothy V. Gatto

By Timothy V. Gatto
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
June 23, 2011

fuck the patriot act

Image by dreamsjung via Flickr

This country is in a mess right now. You can blame it on Clinton, Bush or Obama, but the reality is that it’s more like all three, along with most of the people that they brought into their administrations. It also was not only those that worked for and with the executive branch,  included were Congressmen, Senators, and lobbyists, along with just about anyone else that has had any influence in Washington for the last twenty years.

When I first heard about the Tea Party I was curious. I was angry myself and I guess I was as angry as any of the colonists that threw British taxed tea into Boston Harbor. Maybe my reasons for being angry were different than those people that started the modern-day tea party, but the anger was real. I was angry that Congress couldn’t seem to get anything done. I was angry because the Democrats couldn’t compromise with the Republicans and vice-versa. I was particularly upset at the way our elected representatives used vindictive attacks on each other instead of treating each other with the respect that their positions deserved.

Most of all, I was incensed at the way the politicians used rhetoric that seldom contained the truth. The way they attacked personalities over principles was doing a grave disservice to their constituents. I was also more than just a bit disappointed in that the American people didn’t demand that the people they elected stick to the subject at hand instead of getting lost in ad hominem attacks on each other that didn’t solve anything as well as denigrating their offices.’

The war in Iraq was unsettling. I spent almost twenty one years in the military. In fact, after the attack in New York City where I was raised, I volunteered to return to active duty. Apparently they didn’t need my services.

It was after 9/11 when some of the rhetoric coming out of Washington really made me think twice. In what seemed like hours, the administration had the whole conspiracy figured out, even though they claimed to have no knowledge of any plot before the planes hit the towers. What really vexed me was the government’s claim that it was al Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden that planned the attack. If that was the case, why were we claiming that Saddam Hussein was directly involved? When I heard the “evidence” that they were using to make their case, it just didn’t ring true for me. I knew for example that Iraq was greatly weakened by the U.N. sanctions that left most of their military in disarray. It was also revealed that 15 of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. As a former career military person and a student of history, it didn’t make much sense. I started to take information that came out of official channels in Washington with a grain of salt.

One of the most problematic issues I had with the run-up to the war in Iraq was the lack of any sort of empirical evidence or any kind of debate within Congress or even among the majority of the American people. When I watched General Colin Powell present his case at the United Nations, I was struck by the fact that all of his “evidence” of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were artist’s renderings. With all of the spy satellites we had over Iraq and the total control of the air space above that nation, we should have had at least a few pictures of their mobile poison gas factories. Let me get off the subject of the War in Iraq at this point. We invaded the country and no arm-chair quarterbacking will make any difference now. Let’s just say that my faith in the wisdom of Washington was shaken by that time.

The so-called “War on Terror” was something that disturbed me to the core. The Patriot Act, in my opinion, is probably the most anti-democratic and authoritarian piece of legislation ever passed in the history of the United States. This massive bill is 342 pages long and the majority of the lawmakers in Washington have admitted publically that they have never read the entire document. In fact, this bill was passed within five minutes after it was introduced! Another little known fact is that the majority of the Patriot Act was written well before 2001.

“Whether the Administration could have anticipated 9/11 or not, the proponents of the USAPA were waiting to go long before that day. Similar antiterrorism legislation was enacted in the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, which however did little to prevent the events of 9/11, and many provisions had either been declared unconstitutional or were about to be repealed when 9/11 occurred.”

“James X. Dempsey and David Cole state in their book, “Terrorism & the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security,” that the most troubling provisions of the pre-USAPA anti-terrorism laws, enacted in 1996 and expanded now by the USAPA, “were developed long before the bombings that triggered their final enactment.”

The Patriot Act Goes Far Beyond “Good Government” Amendments

It empowers federal agents to cannibalize Americans’ e-mail with Carnivore wiretaps, allows federal agents to commandeer library records, and requires banks to surrender personal account information. It also authorizes federal agents to confiscate bulk cash from travelers who fail to fill out Customs Service forms disclosing how much money they are taking out of or into the U.S. and allows the attorney general to order long-term detentions if he has “reasonable grounds to believe that the alien is engaged in any activity that endangers the national security of the United States.”

Patriot Act II

Section 101 of the bill, titled “Individual Terrorists as Foreign Powers,” revises the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to permit the U.S. government to label individuals who are suspected terrorists—including American citizens—as “foreign powers” for the purpose of conducting total surveillance of their activities. This alteration nullifies all Fourth Amendment rights of the target, allowing the government to tap phones, search computers, and read e-mail—even when there is no evidence that a citizen is violating any statute.

While some parts of the new bill would overturn federal court decisions, Section 106 is more visionary, seeking to negate principles established in the Nuremberg trials: that following orders is no excuse for violating the law. As proposed, it would permit federal agents illegally to wiretap and surveil and leak damaging personal information on Americans—as long as they are following orders from the president or the attorney general. Taken from “The American Conservative”

We all know about the “No-Fly lists, the full-body scanners used at airports and the intrusive TSA “pat-downs” that have reduced women and young children to tears at airports. These are just a few of the measures that the government has taken in order to “protect us from terrorists”.

Recently it has become legal for the President of the United States to authorize the assassination of American citizens without due process.  The Supreme Court has ruled that this is a “political issue” and does not fall under their jurisprudence.

“As part of its war against violent extremism, the Obama administration now claims a right to kill Americans without a trial, without notice, and without any chance for targets to legally object. The US government has admitted that it has added the names of other Americans to a list for targeted killing. The American Civil Liberties Union sued last year to compel the government “to disclose the legal standard it uses to place US citizens on government kill lists,” but was thwarted when the Obama administration claimed the entire program was a “state secret.” Last December, federal Judge John Bates dismissed the ACLU’s lawsuit because “there are circumstances in which the Executive’s unilateral decision to kill a US citizen overseas” is “judicially unreviewable.”

Contact Tim at: Read Tim’s Complicity to Contempt and Kimchee Days or Stoned Cold Warriors from Oliver Arts and Open Press.


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Anwar Al-Awlaqi: Judge Rules that President’s Decision to Assassinate US Citizens Abroad, Without Due Process or Explanation, is “Judicially Unreviewable”

One thought on “An Open Letter to the Tea Party from a Concerned Liberal by Timothy V. Gatto

  1. I. e, the courts are rolling over and playing dead and abandoning all sense of responsibility. What the hell did the judge go to law school for?

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