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. Dear Mr Wheaton,
    Thank you for your latest post, which has been carefully noted down by my team of monkeys, and will in due course be added to the crate of “Wheaton, aka Crusher” evidence currently held in an FBI vault.
    I very much look forward to meeting you in person some day. Fairly soon.

  2. In France people would be on the streets for this,
    in revolution mode.
    why do US citizens just sit and take it ?
    great site Wil, I’m becoming a regular monkey.

  3. Danielle, while your right about parts of our Canadian legal system being fustrating at times… I’m betting part of that is because your not a citizen.
    Also, the truth of the matter is that right now Canada isn’t a democrocy either. Good old Jean, our ‘Prime Minister’ is really a dictator. Every Member of Parlament thats Liberal (Jean’s party) that disagrees with him end up being forced out of their positions. Thankfully hes out of office soon though.
    Vote Reform! LoL
    Seriously now though… As a non American looking in… I’m at least glad that our dictator isn’t takeing away our freedoms and rights. Patriots my ass… You call giving up what your supposed to be fighting for Patriotisim? I call that ignorance.

  4. Well, it’s your own fault – if you hadn’t fought for independence you’d all be British now… oh, hang on, we’ve got Tony ‘concerned smile, shifty repositioning’ Blair.
    Au Res.,

  5. i think its fake
    to tell you the truth
    i thought it was real,
    but i mean read some other storys on that site.
    like the one about how they “solved” tupaks murder.
    last time i checked that was still unsolved.
    dont you think if it wa solved it would be kind of a big deal?
    and the story doesnt read very well.
    it reminds me of all that religious propaganda i have read,
    claims made with no facts to support them,.
    i smell a rat.
    maybe i am wrong but i dont care.
    the way it looks is like,..
    this whole site is like an unfunny onion.

  6. You sheep are all so funny.
    If Wil asked you all to jump off a bridge you would all happily do it.
    Research these obviously biased posts Wil makes before you just agree with him out of kneejerk alarmism.
    It’s quite funny how you all put down US citizens for not thinking when you are just as guilty of it.
    If Wil was a Rush-loving conservative, you would be agreeing with his call to end welfare.
    Yuo=oblivious sheep.

  7. It’s funny how you immidiatley agree with someone that has a book on his front page called “EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG”. These books are for richkid anarchists and any self-respecting intellectual would be embarrassed to have such a biased,overly-marketed book on their shelf.

  8. To hops.
    I live in europe and there are several countrys over here and they are all quite different. In my country most of the people are quite nice to each other. The police doese not have to watch every dark skinned man (or women). And also, our leaders doese not use terrorist hunting to gain poularity.
    To the others.
    I am sorry to watch the country from where the bluese was born fall apart because of some bad leadership. I know plenty of americans and they are all sane people with moral.

  9. I’m not really surprised at the tone of the article. It seems to be Wil’s usual “Republicans are evil and Democrats are good” slant.
    Frankly, it wasn’t merely the Bush administration that created and passed this thing. Most of the Democratic controlled Senate and divided congress voted for it.
    Regardless, most of those things listed as removing our rights were already occurring. This, unfortunately, just makes it easier.
    And before I get flamed, as I know I will, I’m not for these things either. I hope that enough of a backlash will occur that it will get repealed. But I’m merely concerned that slanting it against one specific group will cause that group’s defenders to be forced to defend the patriot act whether or not they believe in it.

  10. Not to dis Canada- a beautiful country, but Canada has more holes in its security than swiss cheese.
    I always find it funny how people get so up in arms about their freedoms in this country. No one cares when the elections come- as witnesses by voting stats. But mention losing a “god-given” right and everyone gets crazy upset.
    The problem with all this is that people have too much freedom. I am all for constitutional rights, but does anyone ever notice that criminals always hide behind them? This is because what’s missing from the constitution is respect for your neighbors and for people in general. I only wish the founders had put that a “basic right” was to expect kindness and respect from your neighbor. And perhaps they could have put in that rights are not free- one has to earn them by being a good citizen- one who cares about the effects their actions have on their neighbors. That is, being moral and a good citizen becomes a contract between you and America.
    So what am I saying? I don’t know- but all this crap about leaving America and whining about the rights people are losing when no-one ever gives a shit about voting or gives a fuck about how their daily actions affect other people really seems hypocriticial and idiotic.
    Go to Canada if you want, stay here and bitch if you want. But don’t forget that being an American means acting like an American- not expecting everything under the sun without any obligations on your part…..

  11. Right. Of course the people who are doing the least harm or don’t plan on doing any harm will be the ones who have to suffer in the face of these changes. It’s just like the feeling you get while passing through Theft Detector systems in stores: I’d never steal anything, but whenever I pass through those gates I always feel my heart skip a beat, like I’ve done something wrong. All hail legal rights!

  12. Bish wrote:
    Vote. Remember to vote wisely
    or thou shall have no right to
    bitch and moan.
    Dammit, i did vote and as a voter from Missouri, I voted for a DEAD MAN rather than see ashcroft anywhere near a seat of power. I find it repugnant that anyone could even select him as AG, and I’m still a little upset that no one mentioned the fact that he was unseated by someone who had ceased to live during his confirmation hearings!

  13. I see the drooling mouth-breathers from Fark and AICN have joined us. Welcome! And please don’t eat the toilet cookies.
    That is all.

  14. Oi Wil,
    I posted those changes to freedom on a local bulletin board and here is what a crazy fucking Nazi Republican had to say back to me:
    “Freedom vs Terrorism by PapaDoug
    I really don’t know where you draw the line. We know the reason for monitoring religious organizations. I would think that if Baptists start flying planes into buildings and murdering people, we will probably have some agents in our pews. It is probably not fair to the Muslim people that have no part of terror organizations, but we have found out that a bunch of them do. Some that are not directly involved are actively participating in financial support. If you will remember, it was Clinton’s group that pulled the teeth of the organizations we counted on to keep a lid on this. I know that generally speaking, military intelligence is an oxy-moron, but there were some good people doing good work. They were stripped of manpower and funding. Clinton and crew knew things were brewing with Osama and his crowd yet almost all surveilance was taken off. I don’t understand this.
    As far as Freedom of Information, I will leave it to the people that know more about National Security than me to make those decisions. We were set up ripe for picking with all the freedom of information in this country. Terrorists were using the same email systems we use to coordinate attacks from within our country and due to a relaxed atmosphere, they were able to find out anything they wanted. I had a Top Secret security clearance while in the service and didn’t know squat. I guess there were things that an 18 year old didn’t need to know. I had to depend on my leaders for guidance. I surely would not have wanted politicians to know what we were doing. We might as well have telegraphed the enemy with our plans. Things have not changed much. Our “reporters” have repeatedly endangered our service men and women by printing “leaked” reports. Politicians cannot keep from blabbing to make themselves look good, regardless of the cost. I agree that anyone involved in an investigation on terroristic activities should treat that material as National Security. Does this leave the door open to miss use? Of course it does but how else do you propose to keep information from the people being investigated.
    I don’t know of anyone being denied a lawyer. I know the second part of the Okla bombing has spent over 1-1/2 million dollars of the taxpayers money on lawyers. I am sure there are some suspected terrorists out there that do not have representation. To tell the truth, looking at the images of 9-11, I don’t really care. There were obviously some knee jerk reactions after 9-11 but I think most were proper.
    Due to the sheer magnitude of the attack, I am sure it will take some of the heathens a while to get to trial. I was and still am all for the military tribunals. This is a war and we are trying our enemies. Do you really think Lindh deserves to be treated with kid gloves? War isn’t nice. It isn’t pretty and people will be hurt. Regardless of what some of our European “friends” are saying, we did not start this war.
    For those of you that have not had to be in a war, you need to understand there are different rules. In this war in particular, there is no clear front to fight on. The enemy does not wear different uniforms. With the racial structure of the U.S., it is hard to tell the enemy from your next door neighbor. Remember how many terrorists were trained right here? Had the FBI or another organization started asking them questions prior to the bombing, all you Liberals would have gone crazy protecting their rights! I believe that anyone in jail now probably deserves to be there and I just have to trust our country’s leaders to find out the truth.
    I hope that the political agenda doesn’t keep our elected officials from doing their jobs. I watched a mockery of our system tonight when Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee kept a good woman from being able to accept the position she was very qualified for. A lot of Democrats are embarrassed by this also. She would have been accepted easily had it gone to a floor vote but partisan politics, namely pro-abortion Liberals laughed at the Constitution and kept her from being approved. There is no question why they did it. I just wonder if the American people will let them get away with it.
    I am also wondering how you are enjoying President Bush taking a beating for not releasing information that would probably send Bill Clinton to jail? He is trying to preserve the integrity of the office after Clinton besmirched it and he will pay the price for it.”
    And here is my response to him:
    “Freedom’s Death by Mr_Hate
    You’re right PapaDoug. Imagine that, MrHate saying PapaDoug is right. The rules really are different in a time of war. Let’s just throw the constitution out the window and give the government free reign to do whatever it likes. Aw, heck, why don’t we just make George W. Bush King of The United States. Better yet, let’s rename the United States. We could call it Texas, or how about Bushtopia or Bushland, that one kind of sounds like England or Ireland. Old Glory could be replaced with a whitebackground that would symbolize the American people’s surrender of their rights with a big green $ plastered in the foreground.
    So why did I share this with you wonderful people? Because I want a big HELL YEAH from everyone who thinks “PapaDoug” is an insane motherfucker. Can I get a shout?

  15. Follow along, please, for a point-by-point explanation of the SLANT provided by this post,
    FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity to assist terror investigation.
    This does nothing to prevent our freedom of Association! It only lays out the fact that you have no protection against being “looked at” if you are grouped with Less-than-savory people in so-called religions or political parties. While potentially dangerous if taken too far, it is not a clamping down on our freedom
    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.
    There have always been some closed hearings. Changing what should be closed is a simple policy change, not a change of a freedom. We have also “detained” many while papers are verified, stories are checked out, asylum is looked into, etc. this is not new. Then again.. Where is the proof? A simple list of wrong doing seams to be enough to garner a guilty verdict even though no list of people, places, or sources is available. Don’t be suckered in by a long list of horrible things that have happened. Demand Proof!
    “Encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records requests? How? Where? Who? Let’s see some evidence. State sources, not hearsay.
    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.
    This is nothing new. Gag orders have been commonplace for nearly as long as the USA has BEEN the USA. It’s called “tipping off the target” while a few of the people that read these posts would most likely prefer to have a “heads up” about being investigated, I prefer that law enforcement be able to investigate without that kind of tip-off.
    RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Government may monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.
    Convicted felons are not citizens of the USA in the common sense. They cannot vote, own a gun and lots of other things. They are in PRISON. The right to privacy is NOT something they are entitled to damn it, they are CRIMINALLS!
    And Americans accused while in the Military are not guaranteed a Lawyer.
    In short (for a long post) Get Some FACTS before you come to judgment. Stop being sheep! THINK!

  16. The Republikinz are goin’ down goin’ down.
    The Republikinz are goin’ down.
    My Fair Lady.
    Bush and Cheney and Ramsfeld and Ashcroft are putting together a situation that is making Americans more and more queasy about what is going on in this country. This is not the America I thought might emerge from the seeds of cooperation sown in the furrow of 9/11. It might be the manure on top.
    Here in PA, home of Homeland Security Boy Tom Ridge, Barbara Hafer (now State Treasurer, former candidate for Governor, and Republikin) recently dissed Mike Fisher, this year’s Republikin candidate for Governor. She gave her complete endorsement to Ed Rendell, Demokrat of Philadelphia. I think the cracks are showing in our policical system. And I think when the next Presidentail campaign rolls around, Bush will have one or two albatrosses slung around his neck (vote shenanigans in Fla. last time, resriction of rights during his term, turning away from international cooperation).
    The kinds of rhetoric and laws we have seen recently remind me of the kind of thinking that emerged in Nazi Germany and in Red-Scare era United States. Even the comments to this blog suffer the contaigion of this kind of thinking:
    “If you’re not guilty, then you have nothing to worry about.”
    “As long as you’re a Citizen, don’t worry, we’re just mistreating non-citizens”
    “Move along, move along. Nothing to see here.”
    The administration is asking me to trust them too much.
    I salute Colin Powell and those who support his way of thinking in these matters. What does it mean for the US when the former 4-Star General, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and leader of the last kicking of Saddam Hussein’s buttocks, is telling the rest of the administration to calm down and stop being buttheaded righteous hawks? His last Presidential boss, George Bush I, had enogh smarts to rally a huge international coalition before striking out to liberate Kuwait. The current group seems to be saying “My way or the Highway, buddy.”
    The administration is asking me to trust them too much.
    I see that the Newsday article was provided by the Associated Press. We must watch the newswires for more details (like actual cases, sources, and evidence for these points), and be vigilant. Vigilant that our freedoms don’t get trampled by those who would profit from our fear.

  17. WIL,

  18. Hmm…This kinda reminds me of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. “All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
    Well, it seems that in the beginning during our forefathers that all (white) men are created equal. As history progressed, all (white) men and women are created equal. And as time went on, all men and women are created equal. Nowadays, all Americans are created equal, except for those that the government deem to be of suspicious nature, in which case, the Bush administration are more equal than others. Well, all we can hope for is to do what we can, I mean, the public was one of the main reasons why we finally withdrew from Vietnam…although somehow I get the distinct feeling that Junior is too busy following in daddy’s footsteps to even notice…he’s gonna be the plague upon our houses!
    …Ahhh, good ol’ George Dubya! One step away from changing his name to Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin…hats off to megalomaniacs everywhere!!!

  19. Gaf wrote: “But don’t forget that being an American means acting like an American- not expecting everything under the sun without any obligations on your part…..”
    I thought that *was* “acting like an American”….
    American: To expect everything under the sun without any obligations on your part.

  20. Okay, judging by the fact this comment thread was Godwin’ed about halfway into the post, shouldn’t we end it now?
    VOTE LIBERTARIAN! All other parties are some version of collectivism and socialism.

  21. ‘Glad I’m not American. ‘Love your people and the land, but not your current government. As someone said above, “‘Land of the Free’, my ass.”

  22. I think all Americans should read the book “What Uncle Sam Really Wants” a rather short book by Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is a celebrated and noted American politcal scholar, and although it was written late 80’s early 90’s, a hell of a lot of it applies today. It really describes exactly what US foreign policy has been aboutfor the past 50 years- for instance corporate America wants Western Europe to stay poor so they can eploit it. The best thing is it is heavily footnoted to provide those skeptical with a way to check Chomsky’s facts. (Many of his books are good, by the way.)

  23. This is totally horrific. It won’t be long before all Americans go from “citizens” to “subjects” like Canadians. Oy!

  24. Does this really surprise anyone?
    In a country where the Supreme Court is allowed to choose the President (who received 500,000+ less votes) because “a recount would undermine his rightful claim” (Thank you Mr. Scalia) this should come as a shock to no one.
    Day in & day out, we learn more & more about how corrupt this administration is yet there is never any reaction. Secret underground gov’t, Bush knew 9/11 would occur, the attempted coupe in Venezuela, the murder of Candian troops under the guise of “friendly fire,” the bombing of an Afghan wedding, Ashcroft’s FEMA detainment camps, ENRON, Halliburton’s connection to Iraq, etc etc etc.
    Still there is no outrage. I guess the majority just feels safer have the lieks of Limbaugh, Coulter tell them what to think & taking a “blame Clinton at all costs” mentality.
    PS. Don’t be too surprised if the 2004 election is suspended due to martial law. It is a scary reality that is becoming all to clear.

  25. Yeah, I remember all that when it was passed way back when. Fortunately, I haven’t heard of any gross abuses of it in the Media – which, I’ve been hoping, has been trying to be all over this – or maybe, the Media can’t report on it? Wouldn’t you expect to be reading outrageous stories about this by now? But we’re not! Iffy. It (the Act) has a two-year limit on it, doesn’t it? Anyway I pray there’s a limit, a fail-safe on it… maybe I better go look that up and make sure right now…

  26. Lots of Spudnuts wannabes are emerging here… – how sad.
    First and foremost: I guess we all forgot that little bitty article that Wil discussed a few days ago called “Open letter to America by a Canadian.” Well, I am a Canadian as well, and my dear compatriot could not have put it better. So – please Americans, stay put, do not move to Canada, we love it just the way it is and we do not need an influx of fanatic patriots form the south turning our country into the next US state. United we stand, my ass. The Bush administration ensured that you are ON YOUR OWN.
    Artisticspirit was absolutely right in their post: “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.”
    Gaf said: “Canada has more holes in its security than swiss cheese.” Perhaps we don’t have a NEED for such extreme security. Think about it. And when 9/11 happened, everyone in Toronto was NOT worried about our tallest buildings and landmarks as potential targets, but about the U.S. embassy! Think about that too. And get this, then the Canadians were blamed for allowing the terrorists to LEAVE Canada and enter into the U.S.! What the heck happened to YOUR responsibility to ensure that the terrorist don’t ENTER the U.S.?
    Someone mentioned that 9/11 was just one of many attacks on Americans – a long history of numerous armed conflicts with people all over the world obviously taught you nothing. Instead of taking notice and reevaluating your military and foreign policies, you charge on in the name of “patriotism” and “democracy”. Same person said too many people died in these attacks – well, ask yourself then, is this the America your husband/wife is willing to die for? Is this the cause you are willing to lose them to? Violence begets violence begets violence – not very “constructive”, is it? There will never be an end. Someone very insightfully made a comparison with Ancient Roman Empire. Well, if you need a reminder, it fell with a big crash. So did Napoleon. So did Hitler and Stalin. Americans, as a nation, must educate themselves and stop buying into all that “patriotic” fanaticism your government is feeding you. Talking about being misinformed, danielle (an American regretfully living and working in Canada), you obviously never bothered to find out that we have a Constitution.
    American: To expect everything under the sun without any obligations on your part. (by Cynical Foreigner)
    And alexis, I am proud to be a CANADIAN “subjects”.

  27. My Gawd Carrowsboy, are you still believing THAT crap? Even the New York Times, who performed their own recount, said Bush actually won the election. True, they burried it in a small back page, but it was there. If you are going to carp on a point, at least use correct information.
    (let the flames begin!)

  28. Hmm. Posting a 2nd time after skimming all the comments – First, I have to agree with Mitzelflick, danielle, and William. I am surprised at the violent reactions coming from people in this comment box who obviously weren’t paying attention last October when this was all over the news, being debated on the house floor, and many scathing articles were being written/ CNN crossfire commentaries being produced. Second, I have take YaKnow’s comments and piggy-back off of them – referring to what I will not blatantly label “Wil’s sheep”. Wil, don’t let your sheep talk you into running for office. They don’t realize that the ability to make political distinctions and discuss them intelligently is not the only requirement for making a good politician/leader for the people. If it were, why hell, why don’t we all run for governor, congressman, senator? Then we can be a 20382 party system? *chuckles to self* No offense, y’all, but you have to take a step back and read yourselves. Chaos!!!

  29. Oh crap – that’s “will NOW blatantly”, not “not blatantly” – sorry, I hate to post a 3rd time, but that typo changes the meaning of the sentence. Now i’m frickin’ annoyed at myself. *laughs!*

  30. I can only say I’m glad they re-opened the airports so I could leave the country. Every piece of news I see from the States makes me glad I chose to leave when I did.
    Sadly with many of the changes, I don’t feel I can make any firm plans to come back to visit friends and family (not too keen on being “detained”); think I’ll just “wait and see” first.

  31. All I have to say is DUH!!
    ok, that’s not ALLL I have to say, but for the most part it sums it up.
    The thing that really gets me however, is the fact that all the people who are outraged and whining are, more likely than not, just simply going to sit back down on their asses and not do a damned thing about it.
    there’s a simple motto that I hold dear and near…
    if you don’t like something then change it. if it can’t be changed then don’t FUCKIN bitch about it!! This whole issue just gets me pissed. Not because of the whole rights being taken thingie, which trust me isn’t a surprise nor is it really that tragic seriously (how is it different??) but simply that so many damned Americans just sit down on their fat asses, letting them get fatter by the minute, and just bitch and complain about how fat they are!!!!!!!!!!!!! DUH DUH DUH!!!!!
    ok, i’m getting off my rant because it’s makin me crabby……AND, i’m gettin off my FAT ASS and making a difference!!!!!!! you should try it too!!!

  32. I semi-agree with Canadian when they said about not making Canada the next state by flooding our country with american patriots. However, it WOULD be very “American” or “un-Canadian” of us, if you’ll pardon the generalizations, to not allow anybody into our country. As far as being subjects, we’re subjects in the British Empire, we’re “Canadian CITIZENS”. It means that we’re people who live in Canada and have ties with Britain.
    I do not hold anything against americans individually. I think that as a whole, the majority of the country is so blind with the “right to bear arms” section of the constitution that they’d be willing to let ol Dubya do whatever he wants, as long as they can keep their guns.

  33. Where have you all been? You’ve not had any of these rights for years. Specifically, the last two rights listed were denied to one Kevin Mitnik for a number of years.
    Youre rights are an illusion, always have been.

  34. There was a report a few weeks ago that more than half of all Americans now believe the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.
    Sometimes this country disgusts me.

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