Overview of Changes to Legal Rights
By The Associated Press

September 5, 2002, 11:44 AM EDT
Some of the fundamental changes to Americans’ legal rights by the Bush administration and the USA Patriot Act following the terror attacks:

  • FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Government may monitor religious and political
    institutions without suspecting criminal activity to assist terror investigation.
  • FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Government has closed once-public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records requests.
  • FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information
    related to a terror investigation.
  • RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Government may monitor federal prison
    jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to
    Americans accused of crimes.
  • FREEDOM FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES: Government may search and seize Americans’ papers and effects without probable cause to assist terror
  • RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Government may jail Americans
    indefinitely without a trial.
  • RIGHT TO LIBERTY: Americans may be jailed without being charged or being
    able to confront witnesses against them.


167 thoughts on “FYI”

  1. Its scary either way. I am normally always suspicious of most government Investigations but the threat is very real this time and I think many Americans realize this thereby allowing certain infringments of liberty to hopefully prevent or slow down the next 9/11. Of course the libertarian in me screams no way.

  2. This will continue until we can educate the rest of the population. This may get me flamed…..but I do believe that the over use of patriotism in this country is the sign of ignorance. I love the US and have mostly respected it’s laws, but the way that 60% of the population has this unwavering belief that anything the President does is for the common good scares the crap out of me.

  3. I’m confused. Have these changes already been made or are these just proposed changes?
    There can’t be any way that this would actually happen in America, right? Or did I just wake up in Superman’s alternate bizarro universe?

  4. is not surprising to read about this unfortunate turn of events. but the really sad part is that we as America have been overthrowing democratically elected regimes in other countries for years, and supported the mass slaughter of countless innocents because what is good for America is good for the world! i love my country more than anything, but i cannot stand by and listen to the hypocrisy of our government. we get irate and mad when so-called terrorists invade our soil and murder thousands of innocent people, but we do it all the time. remember grenada? remember vietnam? remember korea? we invaded another sovereign countriy’s soil to promote our own selfish agenda without regards to welfare and thoughts of the people whose country we invaded. but in order to stop the insanity now gripping our country, we must stand up and speak out.

  5. People are to busy worrying about their neighbors planning on doing anyhing, then to worry about what is happening to THEIR rights.

  6. And the funny thing is most Americans have no idea that their fundamental rights are being taken away. They’re too blinded by their ‘great leaders’ rhetoric. When I flew back home from Japan, they don’t check your stuff as minutely as they do in North American airports. So technically, you can still take a bomb into the country. You just can’t fly it anywhere within the country….

  7. The hell?! I can’t even begin to comment on this. It hurts my soul (very, truly). I just can’t believe it…Most importantly, I’m afraid. What else can go wrong?

  8. read Z magazine
    get involved
    do something to effect change.
    whenever and wherever you can.
    untill then, allow me to paraphrase a little:
    Spoon boy: Do not try and excerise your civil rights. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
    Neo: What truth?
    Spoon boy: You have no rights.
    Neo: I have no rights?
    Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the laws that bend, it is only yourself.

  9. Can anyone say Joe McCarthy?
    It’s interesting to note that, in the southeast US at any rate, there have been an unusual number of productions of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible springing up. Clearly I’m not the only one who has made the Bush/McCarthy link…

  10. Canada doesn’t look so bad now, does it?? HAHAHA
    We should close our borders to American citizens who think that their country is better than ours even AFTER reading this. Of course, celebreties and cool people like Wil would be given full Canadian citizenship and cushy, high-paying, non-thinking jobs within the government.
    As Yo!Philly wrote: “America the free my ass”

  11. Well this is what you get when the Supreme Court appoints the guy who came in SECOND in an election simply because they like the sort of people he woould appoint (Aschcroft) instead of the guy who actually got the most votes in the elction.
    Goodbye democracy, hello dictatorship!

  12. And I yet continue my personal mantra of “First, graduate from college. Second, move to Canada. First, graduate from college. Second, move to Canada. First…”

  13. I’ve been finding it difficult to not over react to various things during the past year. Its the things like this that make it so difficult.
    I’m now thinking of those who don’t believe the Patriot Act and things like it are just too extreme. I’m thinking of those who don’t know what jingoism is yet they live it nearly every day.
    Ok, have got to calm down. Some how those of us who are sane, intelligent, know how to balance idealism with common sense will find a way to make it better. Let’s just try to keep calm so we don’t go running too far into another extreme position & become just as dangerous.
    Now, where to we begin to make the necessary changes so this doesn’t go any farther? I think I’m going to start by writing to all my elected officials (local, state & fed) and tell them about what really matters to me, what has me concerned, afraid, so on. But what else?
    You know what else is scary? How many people were more upset about a potential baseball strike? How many people were more informed about the details of that potential strike? How much more are people STILL talking about that near-strike than about stuff like this? How much more news coverage was there for the strike than things such as this?
    I’m not knocking baseball or baseball fans. I did pay attention to the strike. But I have priorities. Some things matter more. Yet, I wonder if others have their priorities in order.
    Americans to terrorists: You can have our freedom, but you can’t have our baseball!
    Poor taste? Sorry. I’m tired & I think I’m starting to over react. I’m going to go clear my head so I can think about this more rationally in the morning.

  14. I wonder why the supreme court has not stepped in and struck the patriot act down. Have we lost the checks and balances provided by the judicial branch?
    How long until we are no longer americans in our own country?

  15. I’ve been repeating that mantra for some time, now…
    “I love the US and have mostly respected it’s laws, but the way that 60% of the population has this unwavering belief that anything the President does is for the common good scares the crap out of me.”
    The thing is… I don’t think that 60% of the population really DOES think that way… I’m convinced they get their poll data from the White House cafeteria or something.

  16. Wil, I am pleased that you linked your souce. However, I wish would present their sources/evidence on that article. I find many of those hard to believe. But I’m not saying they aren’t somewhat right. I just wish to see where these changes have been made (and if they have been made, that will also give me a place to start with my complaints to my Reps).

  17. How many people from how many different countries were killed? Too many. And that was just Sept 11….. now there was the USS Cole bombing not too long ago, and then some US Embassies in Africa were bombed in 98 . And the list goes on and on as we all know. So are any of you who are spouting opinions doing/or have done things to protect this country? Or are you just going to complain and then talk about running off to Canada? Do something , be constructive where it will help, be a good citizen, be aware , be ready.

  18. WTF?! I can’t wait to see what Spudnuts has to say about THIS…
    I actually read somewhere that a few years or so back a huge poll of people were read certain rights. They were then asked if they would vote for these rights. Many people said they would vote AGAINST the rights read to them… without realizing/knowing they were part of the constitution or bill of rights ALREADY.
    No wonder the terrorists hit us so hard and we never saw it coming. We’re like Ancient Rome before all the crud hit the fan and the barbarians sacked the place.
    [/bad rant]

  19. God forbid anyone makes sure those protecting your country are actual fighting for something worthwhile….

  20. I’ll tell you exactly how this happened. It started with that coupe of an election that we let the Supreme Court TAKE and give to the Bush family. No one to blame but ourselves.

  21. *scrolls up and sees Spuds’ comment* Whoops… heh… Either he doesn’t care or he’s actually asking that question. The insanity in me says he doesn’t. I assume I’m wrong. *shuts up now*

  22. Thanks for posting this Wil.
    For what it’s worth I’m behind the regime change idea; Saddam is a very bad man but the problem is bigger here- Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft are far worse bad men who we can be CERTAIN have at their disposal weapons of mass destruction and mass distraction.
    IF Saddam has gotta go then I think it’s only fair that Bush and Company go too.

  23. I can’t believe how many of you are so suprised at this. Have you been living under a rock?!? It’s called the Patriot Act, people. It’s only been law for NEARLY A FREAKIN’ YEAR now. Too busy with that flag in your front yard?!?

  24. So lemme get this straight. We can’t burn the flag, but we -CAN- burn the Bill of Rights? Right… Got it. Thanks.

  25. I’m ashamed to say that I knew about all these occurrences, but didn’t put them together into one big picture until you spelled them out here, Wil.
    This is being pasted into a letter and an email which I’ll be sending to all the senators and representatives who are supposed to represent me in Sacramento and Washington.
    Thanks for the wake up call!

  26. I was watching “Vicki Gabero show” (Canadian morning show) and an actor who was being interviewed on there said something that struck my mind as pretty damn correct about the USA. The outside world while mourning the horrible event of 9/11…hoped that that event would bring about a change to the US and make it walke up and realize its actions and try to improve its relationship with everyone. But instead the US pulled out the flags and patriotic music and has blinded itself in red white and blue.

  27. hey its me hops..
    just don’t do anything bad and u will be ok.
    ild rather live in europe so i can do bad things and kill people without the scourge of our government holding me indefinitely.

  28. Who’d have thought that September 11 2001 would result in the USA becoming like an extremist Middle East nation?
    Looks like the terrorists have infiltrated the committee that developed these proposed changes.
    Now that’s a sneaky way to combat capitalism and Western freedom. Those terrorist really were calculating and organized!

  29. Wil,
    Maybe it’s time for at least some disagreement. These laws mostly have a narrow application, and are to be reviewed in 2005. I’ve read quotes from several constitutional scholars who say this is less restrictive than in previous wars, and that individual rights have been expanding for the past 30 years, not contracting. I can think of several areas where that’s true.
    1. FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION. This is regrettable, but I think absolutely necessary. We were attacked by radical Islamists, who find justification and impetus for their terrorism and jihads in their brand of Islam. Some mosques all over the world have been centers for indoctrination and recruitment for terrorists. The shoe bomber, and the so called 20th hijacker now on trial, both were affiliated with a radical mosque in London. Any mosque involved in such activity should be surveilled and there are some in North America). Any place of worship not involved with terrorism will be of little or no interest.
    2. FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Distasteful, but so librarians will not tip-off those being investigated. I think we have many laws desiged to prevent suspects from knowing who might have been questioned in a criminal investigation.
    3. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION. This large round-up is unlikely to recur unless there is another major terrorist attack. A public list of everyone detained would have told the real terrorists how well the investigation was going. The families, friends and employers certainly knew if one of theirs was being detained. Does the ACLU and the world also have to know?
    4. RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION. Convicted terrorists and mob bosses have tried to continue running their operations from prisons, and even use their attorneys as messengers. An attorney was recently charged with this. A rare circumstance that should be dealt with if attempted.
    5. UNREASONABLE SEARCHES. Don’t know any details of how this might work under the Patriot Act. Courts will certainly scrutinize it.
    6. RIGHT TO SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL. Same as 5, but probably meant to hold uncooperative detainees, or those at high risk of flight, until satisfied they do not have info related to terrorist activity.
    7. RIGHT TO LIBERTY. Doesn’t bother me. This has been applied to two citizens, and the non-citizens at Guantanamo, people actually “caught in the act,” so to speak. Padilla was trailed from Pakistan by the FBI, and the other apprehended in Afghan. with the Taliban or al Quaeda. They are held to obtain any information they have, and so they will not return to the terrorist activity, or association with the enemy, they were engaged in when apprehended. Do you think we brought all the German and Japanese POW’s to the US for jury trials during WWII? I think the evidence against citizens should be reviewed by a court. Beyond that, hold them until they are no longer a threat. That could be a long time, but they made their bed so to speak.
    I don’t like any contraction of rights either, but this is for a specific situation and will be reviewed. The first to hide behind our constitutional protections are the absolutely guilty. We’ve seen what terrorists can do, and preventing further attacks seems to justify this.
    None of us here really understand all the details, I think it’s safe to say. The courts will review those details, and already are doing so in fact.
    As terrible as most seem to consider the Patriot Act, I’m surprised we don’t have numerous anecdotes of how the posters have fallen afoul of these laws that have been in effect for eight or ten months. Or, maybe it won’t be as bad as most seem to think.

  30. I won a school public speaking competition years back with a speech about prisoners of conscience, mentioning someone in Chile my mother had been writing to for years, who was in prison, and I paraphrase from my speech:
    ‘Not only without a trial, but even a reason as to why she is there’
    I’d like to know if these changes listed are proposed or authorised.
    Your Government (I’m in the UK) is going to have Amnesty International swarming all over them if this happens. Rightly so.
    You can’t, you just can’t react like this. It’s living in fear.

  31. I bet anything that a good 90% of the population does not even realize that these changes have been made already. It is scary. The people that used to be laughed at for being conspiracy theorists now are having the last(?) laugh.

  32. This terrorist has won, and his name is Dick Cheney. You don’t honestly think Osama Bin Laden could of pulled off 9/11, do you? Why do we think is was Osama? Because DIck Cheney appeared on TV within an hour of the attacks and told the whole world “I know who this is, its Osama Bin Laden”.
    Me thinks it was Dick Cheney :)

  33. Oh, and whoever mentioned moving to Canada, nix that one. I am an American living and working here and you would not believe what it is really like. The legal system is much more infuriating here, and those freedoms aforementioned by Wil mostly never applied in the first place. If it weren’t for business obligations I would be headed back to the States faster than you could say Bush.

  34. He who would sacrifice liberty to preserve safety deserves neither.
    – Benjamin Franklin
    The wisdom of our forefathers still rings true.

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