Bashing Muslims, the AMERICAN Way!
President Obama signed into law, another four-year extension of the USAPATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001), while he was in Europe, just hours before it was to have expired…the monster was saved from a well-deserved death.
Just as a gutless Congress voted blindly in 2001 for an a law that would impose major abuses on people (mostly Muslims), a gutless Congress voted yesterday, to extend the abuses because of fears that they would look “weak on terrorism” if they didn’t; neither shame nor courage, are Congressional emotions.
There ARE a few people in Congress who have stated they do not like the Act and want to restrict it…being the loyal servants to the money that “brung them to the dance”, they are concerned about the FBI’s ability to investigate businesses, not about the severe limitations to personal liberty and not in the least concerned about the abuses that have been heaped on Muslims in America because of this monster disguised as “security”; most of us Muslims are keenly aware of how our governments in the Old Country used to and (still do) oppress people…imprison, torture, kill, maim…in order to defend the “integrity and solidarity of the nation”. Americans have also done similar things in America, but being selective in our memories and in our concerns, we have forgotten all that…”let’s keep the country SAFE!” is about all we can say these days, especially when the majority population is not seen as being at risk.
Following are some of the sections of the USAPatriot Act that should continue to cause us all concern:
- Section 215 modifies the rules on records searches so that third-party holders of your financial, library, travel, video rental, phone, medical, church, synagogue, and mosque records can be searched without your knowledge or consent, providing the government says it’s trying to protect against terrorism.
- Section 218 amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), authorizing secret searches without public knowledge or Department of Justice accountability, so long as the government can allege a foreign intelligence basis for the search. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In July 2008, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008, giving the National Security Agency (NSA) virtually limitless power to spy on Americans. This controversial piece of legislation not only effectively legalized the secret warrantless surveillance program that President Bush had authorized in late 2001, it gave the NSA new power to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international telephone calls and e-mails en masse, without a warrant, without suspicion of any kind, and with only very limited judicial oversight.
- Section 213 warrants — “Sneak and Peek” — extend the authority of FISA searches to any criminal search. This allows for secret searchesof one’s home and property without prior notice.
- Section 214 permits the removalof the warrant requirement for “Pen registers” which ascertain phone numbers dialed from a suspect’s telephone and “Trap and trace” devices which monitor the source of all incoming calls, so long as the government can certify that the information likely to be obtained is relevant to an ongoing investigation against international terrorism.
- Section 216 clarifies that pen register/trap-and-trace authority applies to Internet surveillance. The Act changes the language to include Internet monitoring, specifically information about: “dialing, routing, and signaling.” It also broadens such monitoring to any information “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.”
- Section 206authorizes roving wiretaps: allowing taps on every phone or computer the target may use, and expands FISA to permit surveillance of any communications made to or by an intelligence target without specifying the particular phone line or computer to be monitored. This means that if Ahmed is being monitored by the FBI and Ahmed works at Majorsoft, then not only can Ahmed’s phone be secretly monitored, ANY phone at Majorsoft that Ahmed is possibly able to use, is also under surveillance as are all the phones used by Ahmed’s famaily.
- Section 505 authorizes the use of an administrative subpoena of personal records, without requiring probable cause or judicial oversight. National Security Lettersprovision of the Patriot Act radically expanded the FBI’s authority to demand personal customer records from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions and credit companies without prior court approval. If this is not frightening enough, the law also prohibits the recipient of the National Security Letter demand, from disclosing that they received such a demand, in effect even an illegal demand from the FBI (perish the thought!) can not be challenged because that would require disclosing receipt of such a demand. Go Figure.
- Section 802creates a category of crime called “domestic terrorism,” penalizing activities that “involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States,” if the actor’s intent is to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion”. Who exactly decides these arbitrary criteria? The American Prosecutors, of course! What is “dangerous to human life”? It could be obstructing traffic on I-5 while marching in a demonstration, but not if the demonstrators are non-Muslim, African Americans as was the case in Seattle a few years ago. Almost anything can be construed as “a violation of the criminal laws of the United States”.
- Section 411 makes even unknowing association with terrorists a deportable offense. Think about this, if Ahmed were to do some business or, make friends with someone who later turns out to be defined by the government as a “terrorist”….a highly subjective and arbitrary definition…he is deportable, Due Process be damned. This is what allows the government to persecute and prosecute people and organizations who give to charity and the charity gives to some widow or orphan who is deemed to have been the widow or orphan of a “terrorist”. Of course, this applies almost exclusively to “Muzlems“. Most “terrorist” listings are Muslim while non-Muslims are permitted a most indulgent wide path to continue with their activities; let us not even try to draw contrasts between the Palestinian “terrorists” and their Israeli oppressors, Pakistanis and Indians, Russians and Chechens, Moros and Philippines, Uighurs and Chinese, Somalis and Americans…oh, can we go on?
- Section 412 gives the attorney general authority to order a brief detention of aliens without any prior showing or court ruling that the person is dangerous. As late as a few years after 9-11, thousands of Muslims had been imprisoned without charges and without trials, all because, as John Ashcroft said to the Senate, “We are trying to see if the pieces of the mosaic (Muslim prisoners) create a pattern”. There is no definition of “brief detention”, before 9-11 it was expected that a “brief detention” would last about 3 days, today, detention for years does not raise eyebrows…as long as the “detainees” are “Muzlems“.
Of course, there is little outcry from the REAL American patriots…from those who speak the loudest and invoke the “love it or leave it” rule, especially when the targets are non-White, non-Christian people who have strange customs and speak strange languages (Speaking in Tongues is excluded, that is very AMERICAN). We Americans have a great capacity to ignore the problems of those who we cannot identify with, even if they may also be Americans.Muslims in America are not considered American in fact, Muslims in America are considered to be a threat to America by an ever-growing number of our leaders. Our military, our FBI and our law-enforcement agencies are being deeply trained into associating Muslims with terrorism and as active threats to America. Special training programs are in effect all over the country, where “experts” are invited (paid for by the Department of Homeland Security) to speak to law-enforcement officers and agents, informing them of the extreme threat posed by anyone who believes himself or herself to be Muslim. Corporations have made their very existence based on “anti-terrorism training” that essentially specifies Muslims as the terrorist threat to America.This was given loud voice recently (yet AGAIN!) when the Police Chief of San Francisco said Muslims from the Middle East, especially from Afghanistan and Yemen, pose a huge (bomb) threat to the city’s municipal buildings. In the uproar that followed, Chief Gascon offered a public apology, but not for saying what he did; he apologized “for offending” Muslims.Unfortunately, none of this should surprise us Muslims; as long as we remain servile and silent to the abuses heaped upon us. As long as we do not grasp the political power that is sitting idly in our open palms, we will continue to be targeted by those who wish us more harm than our closed eyes and cowering minds can envision.The problem for Muslims is not where to find the power that will protect us and our families, the problem is HOW to close our hands around the staff of political power that is ours to take…if only we can get past our sectarian and social differences…if only for the duration of the crises that face us from time to time.