Pubdate: Fri, 1 Aug 2003
Source: Cannabis Culture
Copyright: 2003, Cannabis Culture, redistributed by MAP by permission
Author: Daniel Forbes
Bookmark: (Forbes, Daniel)


America's New Patriot Act and Patriot II Trash the Constitution and Brand 
Political Dissent As Terrorism.

America's war on Iraq, and now possibly Syria, has drawn public and media 
attention away from the burgeoning state security apparatus focused on US 
domestic matters. Those who think they know better than the rest of us have 
set their sights on dissidents of all stripes, including afficionados of a 
certain plant.

No matter the Marine Corps Semper Fi inked on your bicep, to indulge in a 
bowl on your back porch brands you a dissident. In the broadest sense under 
the post-9/11 regime, just about any crime is terrorism. If it's been on TV 
it must be true: Drug use equals terrorism. Or so the White House has 
instructed the citizenry to the tune of $150 million and more a year.

The new, enhanced police state tactics have been fueled more than anything 
by the passage of the US Patriot Act, that is, the Uniting and 
Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept 
and Obstruct Terrorism Act - and what right-minded member of Congress could 
oppose that? Not that they were allowed to read the complex 342-page 
legislative package, supposedly written from scratch only one month after 
9/11, and passed amidst the oh-so-conveniently timed anthrax scares.

According to Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), one of Congress's most ardent champions 
for drug reform, the Patriot Act was rushed through Congress without any 
legislative review. In fact, in the anthrax-riddled weeks following 9/11, 
Congress was instructed by the Republican leadership to close their eyes, 
hold their noses, and authorize sweeping new police powers to the executive 
branch. To do otherwise was to risk condemnation by the leadership, blame 
for any future terrorist attack, and certain defeat in the next election.

According to an analysis by Nancy Chang, a senior litigation attorney for 
the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Patriot Act grants vast new 
powers to the executive branch with almost no oversight by Congress or the 
judiciary. Chang writes that the Patriot Act threatens the rights of 
assembly and freedom of speech "by creating a broad new crime of 'domestic 
terrorism.'" Such crimes only have to "appear to be intended to influence 
the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion," the law reads. It 
remains to be seen how far that will go in terms of criminalizing political 

Says Chang, even non-violent protest might fall under the act. 
Environmental, anti-globalization and anti-abortion activists "who use 
direct action to further their political agendas are particularly 
vulnerable to prosecution as 'domestic terrorists.'"

Perhaps the main assault is on the right to privacy through granting, 
according to Chang, "largely unchecked surveillance powers, including the 
enhanced ability to track email and Internet usage, conduct sneak-and-peek 
searches, obtain sensitive personal records, monitor financial transactions 
and conduct nationwide roving wiretaps." All of this can occur based not on 
probable cause, but on the less onerous reasonable cause. And it knocks 
down the wall between criminal and intelligence actions and thus "opens the 
door to a resurgence of domestic spying by the Central Intelligence Agency."

The sneak-and-peek provision, which is currently denounced in a nationwide 
ACLU advertising campaign, means the government can break into your home, 
search your possessions, download files from your hard drive, examine the 
titles in your library - without you ever knowing they were there. Unlike 
standard searches where, to a degree, you can monitor what's happening and 
get a receipt for anything removed, the feds can now delay for up to 90 
days before giving notice.

Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project, said that 
any drug violations stumbled upon during such searches "can give rise to 
further investigations." The delay provision of the law applies to any 
criminal matter and is not scheduled to expire. Chang asserts that the law 
"gives the FBI a green light to resume domestic spying on government 
'enemies.'" She points to prior federal spying on civil rights and Vietnam 
War protesters "who had been targeted solely because they were believed to 
harbor politically dissident views."

The law also allows for monitoring Internet usage, though it remains to be 
adjudicated whether this includes the content of email messages. Boyd said 
that a "low threshold" now applies as to the government monitoring who 
visits what site. "It's now more plausible that the government is watching 
who's going to which site or buying an item related to marijuana."

In fact, Boyd was one of several individuals interviewed, including NORML 
head Keith Stroup, who asserted that when the Drug Enforcement 
Administration busted head shops earlier this year, they diverted patrons 
visiting the shops' web sites to DEA sites which could have then captured 
patrons' computer addresses. For its part, the DEA said it wasn't targeting 
any visitors to the sites.

Rave Culture ATTACKED

As of this writing, Patriot II still lies ahead. That's not the case with 
Joseph Biden's (D-Del) resurrected RAVE Act (Reducing Americans' 
Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act), which was snuck onto a child protection act 
and is now called the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act.

While the reform community, in a rare victory, managed to block Biden's 
original RAVE Act last year, he just passed a virtually identical bill that 
holds club owners, pool hall mavens, even the owners of sports teams liable 
for any drug use on their premises.

As is typical of such legislation, there were no floor votes or committee 
hearings on the bill - just attach it to an unrelated piece of legislation 
and sneak it through.

Venue owners who conduct their business knowing that drug use may occur on 
the premises can now be prosecuted. Never mind that the government can't 
keep drugs out of prisons, let some kid smoke a joint in the back of a club 
and run the risk of huge fines.

Events which promote drug law reform, such as hempfests and the Million 
Marijuana March, might be especially vulnerable to claims that they were 
allowing drug use at their events. Organizers of these events could be 
prosecuted, fined and jailed.

Said Dale Gieringer of California NORML, "What's upset me the most was the 
ease with which Congress slipped through the RAVE Act, just steamrolled it 
through." And while raves are not on an interstate scale typically to 
invite federal scrutiny, Gieringer worries that local authorities will call 
in the the feds to prosecute these cases, since federal penalties are tougher.

- - Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund:

Patriot 2: Permanent Lockdown

Orrin Hatch, Republican Senator from Utah and head of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee, is among those scheming to make the Patriot Act eternal. It was 
originally scheduled to end, or "sunset" in 2005, but Senate Republicans 
now aim to void that provision of the law.

Though the Justice Department denied its existence for months, a true 
patriot finally leaked the provisions of Patriot Act II, the Domestic 
Security Enhancement Act of 2003. Already crafted and given to the 
Republican congressional leadership, there's been no formal consideration 
or even acknowledgment of its existence. It is lying dormant until the 
right terror pretext to speed its "emergency" passage occurs.

At least the existence of Patriot I was acknowledged. Only a leak in 
February to the respected Washington think tank, the Center for Public 
Integrity (CPI), exposed the very existence of the planned Patriot II. 
According to CPI, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee were lied to 
by the Justice Department and told there was no such legislation in the 
works. A month and more following CPI's announcement, the Justice 
Department finally acknowledged the nascent legislation, the vicious spawn 
of Patriot I.

As to its fate, James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the chairman of the House 
Judiciary Committee, told the Associated Press, "I can't answer that 
because the Justice Department has classified as top-secret most of what 
it's doing under the [first] Patriot Act."

According to Libertarian Party national chair, Geoffrey Neale, Patriot II 
"would destroy some of the legal protections that make America different 
from totalitarian states like Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Iraq. For 
example, Patriot II would allow the government to arrest and detain people 
in secret, paving the way for the midnight knock on the door that 
terrorizes the population in police states."

Neale's statement continues: "There's no need to file charges, present 
evidence, or even hold a trial. A simple accusation by the police or an 
anonymous informant is all that's needed to lock up an innocent person for 

What's more, as analyzed by Alex Jones of, if enacted, Patriot 
II would reorganize vast swaths of federal, state and local government 
operations under federal executive branch control. Said Jones, its 
"tentacles reach into every facet of our society. It strips American 
citizens of all of their rights and grants the government and its private 
agents total immunity."

And, as revealed by Gannett Newspapers, New Jersey's chief security 
official declared earlier this year that during a red alert   the highest 
terrorism threat warning, which can be issued at whim   de facto martial 
law will be in effect, and, according to the article, "you will be assumed 
by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your 
home." The official added, "You literally are staying home, is what 
happens, unless you are required to be out."

A New Jersey red alert brochure also warns the public to do as they're 
told: "You must adhere to the restrictions announced by authorities and 
prepare to evacuate, if instructed. Stay alert for emergency messages."

Jones maintains that, should Patriot II pass, people can be grabbed off the 
street, never to be seen again, and it will be unlawful to reveal what 
happened to such individuals. There will be a national database of "anyone 
associated with suspected terrorist groups"; the gathering of information, 
such as the writing or reading of this article, can be classified as 
"clandestine intelligence activities for a foreign power." It provides for 
martial law without a declaration of war; eviscerates the Fourth Amendment 
by granting immunity for searches conducted without court approval; 
destroys federal whistle-blower protection; allows federal officials to 
keep their finances hidden; creates lifetime parole ("basically slavery," 
says Jones) and throws any statute of limitations out the window when 
so-called "terrorism" is concerned.

Jones concludes: "From snatch and grab operations to warrantless searches, 
Patriot Act II is an Adolf Hitler wish list. You can understand why 
President Bush, Dick Cheney, and [House Speaker] Dennis Hastert want to 
keep this legislation secret not just from Congress, but from the American 
people as well."

Pot-People Beware!

While the new security state's enabling legislation doesn't specifically 
target potheads, life sure ain't getting any easier. Seattle-based defense 
attorney Jeff Steinborn defends many an accused toker (see his informative 
site at

In an interview with Cannabis Culture, Steinborn explained that "Under 
Bush/Ashcroft, there's a resurgence in focus on marijuana. The 
sophistication of some of the investigations I see is astounding, with two 
or three inches of paperwork like they're going after a nuclear terrorist, 
all for some two-bit marijuana farm."

"It's ratcheted up only one way," added Steinborn. "Once you get those 
laws, it's tough to get rid of them."

Ron Crickenberger, political director of the Libertarian Party, said, "The 
government has been after marijuana smokers for a long time. Now, they have 
new tools and a different direction. For the average home user, it's not a 
great deal more trouble. On the sales end of things, though, it's now a lot 

On the other hand, Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML, told Cannabis 
Culture that he has remained focused on protecting patients' rights under 
Prop. 215. As to the new security apparatus, he said, "In practical terms, 
it's had no impact on the pot-smoking community in California." That said, 
given all the DEA raids on the patients' clubs, he worries that war might 
suck all the air out of the media and thus provide cover for more DEA action.

Said Boyd, "I haven't seen an explicit connection between the two issues. 
But think of the war on terror and the war on drugs and the importance of 
metaphor. In both, the government panders to fear as an excuse to expand 
its powers which are then used in a wide variety of ways. When the erosion 
of the Fourth Amendment is directed at drug users, it affects everyone."

"Metaphorical wars generally are corrosive to civil liberties," added Boyd. 
"They trade off rights for security, but the ACLU maintains you can have both."

Chris Conrad, a court-qualified expert and co-author of Shattered Lives: 
Portraits from America's Drug War, told Cannabis Culture, "Right now 
there's not a huge amount of difference. People are carrying less for 
personal use, but that hasn't stopped them from carrying." And, says 
Conrad, "Oddly enough, prices are lower these days in California."

Care and Caution

Some among the adept are relatively sanguine. Then there's Steinborn, who 
says, "The right-wing Christians' moral indignation; the fear that pot will 
destroy children; the enormous political power of the pharmaceutical 
industry; the bully pulpit it affords to every two-bit politician; the 
disenfranchisement of people who might vote for progressive 
causes   prohibition suits the interests of a lot of people." Given that, 
it's no surprise, says Steinborn, that nearly 60% of the war on drugs' 
focus is on marijuana.

But, he adds, believing in the rightness of their cause, pot-people often 
take unnecessary risks. Attendees at drug reform conferences, for instance, 
confident in the economic clout that 600 people ensconced in a downtown 
hotel confer, smoke blatantly in chandelier-encrusted ballrooms. That's not 
something two guys attending a wedding in the same room a week later should 
try. "You've got to be secretive these days," Steinborn said. "You can't 
afford to be cavalier. With neighbors looking to turn people in   don't use 
a pipe. Roll a joint instead."

Libertarian Ron Crickenberger agrees. "There is an extra zeal on the part 
of one's neighbors. There's so much emphasis on reporting anything 
suspicious, neighbor informing on neighbor. I'm sure it all spurs the cops 
on just a bit more. But as it is, they're pretty eager to bust people for 
pot," he said.

Med-pot activist, patient, and retired surgeon Dr. Tom O'Connell told 
Cannabis Culture: "When you factor in things like the 
drugs-equals-terrorism ads, there is increased vigilance. It turns a lot of 
security personnel into eager beavers, and even driving in your car isn't 
that safe.

"One problem you have with cannabis is the lack of factual information. 
There's the attitude that people who use pot are still despised. And now 
with the war on, it's very likely that using pot is associated with 
dissent, with the peace movement and opposition to the war   all those pot 
heads, hippies and whiny radicals."

Whether currently much employed against reefer or not, the new legal regime 
manifests its intent in ways both chilling and ridiculous. As to the 
latter, consider, says Privacy International, that the Washington, DC 
conference center now requires patrons to show picture ID before entering 
the food court.

Less ridiculous, according to an outfit called Freedom to Tinker, is the 
legislation pending in Massachusetts and Texas that would ban any 
technologies that "concealed the origin or destination of any 
communication" from your Internet service provider. Both encrypted emails 
that concealed the origins of incoming and outgoing email and most security 
firewalls designed to flag and prevent external snooping in computers would 
be outlawed.

States of Fear

Some of the information sweeps rely on nothing more high-tech than the 
threat of a night in jail and all the ancillary hassles that implies. 
Anti-war protesters caught up in police sweeps in New York in February and 
March were questioned on their political affiliations, participation in 
past protest, where they worked and even where they went to college.

The National Lawyers Guild said that Newsday indicated that arrested 
protesters were quizzed on their views of Israel, Palestinians, and 9/11. 
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the information was 
entered on a form carrying a federal seal. Those who resisted such 
intrusive questioning were told they couldn't be processed and would have 
to spend the night in jail.

Referring to the questioning as "debriefing," not "interrogation," the New 
York Police Department maintained there was no need for legal 
representation. Separately, a federal judge relaxed decades-old 
restrictions on New York cops' surveillance of political groups prior to 
any arrest.

In Pennsylvania, according to a Penn State student publication, anyone 
whose ID is checked while buying beer or liquor has his particulars, 
including what he bought, entered in a state database that's accessible by 
police. Used in every liquor store in the state, the ID scanners are 
supposedly easier to use than actually looking at someone's ID and figuring 
out whether they're old enough to buy beer. So your alcohol consumption is 
recorded for who knows how long and for what purpose. Perhaps child custody 
cases down the road?

The current airline passenger screening protocol, which flags people paying 
in cash or traveling one way or showing up late - or showing up early for 
that matter - will likely soon be replaced by the proposed Computer 
Assisted Passenger Pre-screening.

Civil Libertarian and drug reform advocate John Gilmore attempted to fly 
without presenting identification and was turned away at both the San 
Francisco and Oakland airports. He subsequently sued Attorney General John 
Ashcroft in federal court in California on several grounds, including 
discrimination against travelers who choose anonymity.

Gilmore's attorney, Bill Simpich, stated that under the proposed 
computerized screening, the government will search, "in a stew of databases 
like credit records, previous travel history, criminal records, motor 
vehicle records, banks, web searches, and companies that collect personal 
information from consumer transactions. Your life history will be gathered 
and scanned, using secret criteria, whenever you book a flight or arrive at 
an airport."

The ACLU's Graham Boyd points to the increasing use of ion scanners which 
target microscopic particles. Such devices are used in prisons to search 
for drugs and in airports to check for explosives. They're common, said 
Boyd, but what's coming next is the low-dose radiation X-ray that allows 
operators to see through clothes. They're controversial not only because of 
concern whether the radiation might prove unhealthy to frequent flyers, but 
also due to privacy concerns "since you more or less can make out 
anatomical features."

Summing up the current atmosphere, defense attorney Steinborn minced no 
words: "Law enforcement has been turned over to a right-wing Christian 
cabal, with prayer meetings being held at the Justice Department.

"Bush has figured out what Hitler did in the 30s," added Steinborn. "You 
label the enemy as evil and to disagree brands you a traitor."

Civic Resistance

Along with taking it to the streets, carrying signs, and having the number 
of demonstrators grossly miscounted by the mainstream press, pockets of 
resistance are springing up around the country.

In Palo Alto, California, the Utopian Movement has helped steer the Human 
Relations Commission, a city council advisory board, to consider a 
resolution that the city of Palo Alto will not cooperate with federal 
authorities pursuing unconstitutional aims. That includes federal officials 
commandeering local police during red alerts.

Ron Crickenberger, political director of the Libertarian Party, told 
Cannabis Culture that his party has made similar efforts. In conjunction 
with the ACLU, they have helped the passage of 100 city and county 
commission resolutions that denounce the Patriot Act, and direct local 
police to "not cooperate" with federal officials implementing it.

City councils which have passed resolutions against the Patriot Act include 
the Colorado cities of Boulder and Denver, the Massachusetts cities of 
Cambridge, Northampton and Amherst, plus Berkeley, California, Ann Arbor, 
Michigan, and the town of Carrboro, North Carolina.

As to the drug reform movement specifically, Gieringer pointed to 
November's electoral defeats on state ballot initiatives in Ohio and 
Nevada, along with the failure of the recent well-organized campaign to 
liberalize marijuana laws in the town of Columbia, MO. He said, "I don't 
sense we have a lot of momentum right now. It's a tough year, no?" 
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