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10/12/2004 Archived Entry: ""

Gordon P. follows up on a previous post about H.R. 10 which has the potential to: 1.) Greatly expand the domestic surveillance powers of the FedGov; 2.) Turn state driver's licenses into de-facto National ID cards; 3.) Interlink all state databases to allow Federal "data mining"; 4.) Give the Attorney General the power to compel all businesses to submit all job applicants to the FedGov for approval.

Gordon writes, Sadly, H.R. 10 passed, 282-134 (with 17 congresscritters Not Voting). Unfortunately, for the prospect of derailing it in the Senate, the lopsidedness of the vote (over 2:1 in favor) in a House split almost smack dab down the middle strongly suggests that turning the U.S. into a fascist police state has strong "bipartisan" support (albeit, the reasons the Red and Blue Teams of the RepDems support it may differ slightly...) Furthermore, since the Senate has traditionally been, if anything, even more favorably disposed toward "Law and order" bills than the House, I have little hope that the Senate will overturn this monster... (IIRC, the Senate passed both "U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T." and "Homeland Security" at least as overwhelmingly as the House :-(

It may be that freedom's only hope of overturning some of the draconian fascist provisions Congress has been passing lately may be the Supreme Court (which seems to _finally_ showing some trace of spine, again...) Unfortunately, court challenges tend to proceed at glacial slowness, and even in those rare cases where a Court sides with "We The People" instead of upholding "The Compelling Interest Of The State," the Judge seldom strikes down _everything_ associated with a given law, leading to the "ratchet effect" There is also the significant risk that a (re)elected Bush may finally get some of his Federal Judge appointees approved... :-(

I think Wendy's comment to Brad & me two weeks ago is probably correct: These episodic "fascism fevers" that the U.S. seems to catch every few decades tend to take about 10--15 years to run their course, and there seems little that one can do but sit tight and lay low until they burn themselves out... :-( (And even after they _do_ burn themselves out, "We The People" will _still_ be left with less freedom afterwards than before... :-( It may well be that it is simply too late for Freedom in the U.S.: Given that various gov'ts now consume almost 1/5 of the GDP and employs almost 1/10 of the general population, the Omnipotent State may well have already grown too large and become too aggressively self-interested in its own continued power and growth. If it _is_ indeed too late for the U.S., it may well be that one needs to start looking elsewhere. (For example, New Zealand and Costa Rica are both starting to look quite good by comparison...)

My comments: Gordon is probably correct about bipartisan and overwhelming support in the House making passage in the Senate likely. It is disturbing: I have heard next to nothing about H.R. 10 from the mainstream US media. Some foreign papers have picked up the story -- for example, The Guardian ran a good piece by Andrew Brown who claimed "The anti-terrorism bill currently passing through the US House of Representatives would put Turkey to shame..."

Again, blogs are leading the way in disseminating information. The so-called "torture clauses" in H.R. 10 -- Sections 3031 and 3032 -- seem to be drawing the most attention. Kuro5hin writes, "Tucked away in Section 3032 and 3033 of H.R. 10, the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act of 2004, is an "anti-terrorist" provision that was never recommended by the 9/11 Commission. Indeed, it is the very opposite of a Commission recommendation - as noted in a critical press release about the bill from Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), quoted here. A sample of commentary from the blog URL (Obsidian wings) just highlighted, "The Republican leadership of Congress is attempting to legalize extraordinary rendition. 'Extraordinary rendition' is the euphemism we use for sending terrorism suspects to countries that practice torture for interrogation. As one intelligence official described it in the Washington Post, 'We don't kick the sh*t out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the sh*t out of them'.

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