Capitol building

Legislative Terrorists Kill First Amendment!

 

    Timothy McVeigh's recent conviction for the Oklahoma City bombing is the event hailed as closure for the family of victims who died in that attack. It should, instead, be a reminder of the unconstitutional Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995 that was drafted by the Clinton administration and passed by Congress one year after the bombing.

    Clinton's Omnibus Counterterrorism Bill was introduced into Congress in February of 1995. The bill was a death knell to the Bill of Rights and was designed to grant sweeping powers to the executive branch. Included in the bill's provisions was a much broader wiretapping authority for law enforcement with less judicial oversight, access to personal and financial records without a warrant. Most of all included in the bill are sweeping powers granted to the President to designate certain groups as "terrorist" organizations, to seize the assets of said groups and their supporters, and to imprison U.S citizens and deport aliens supporting such groups, aliens being denied due process under the law.

The Reichstag Fire

    Clinton's counterterrorism bill was certain to run into stiff opposition from civil libertarians in Congress, that is, until the Oklahoma City bombing provided the needed bipartisan support. The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building is widely viewed as the "Riechstag fire" that gave impetus to the enactment of "emergency powers" for the President, just as it did for Chancellor Hitler in 1939. Congress passed Clinton's bill in the form of "The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996", minus the craved wiretapping provisions. Clinton signed it into law on April 24, 1996.

    Although the Murrah building has been razed and hauled off, the Bill of Rights continues as the target of legislative terrorism. The First Amendment takes a direct hit from a provision in the above mentioned bill entitled, "Changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act to Facilitate Removal of Alien Terrorists". The federal definition of terrorism is extremely broad and may include anything from intimidation to destruction of property.

Presidential Dictatorship

    Under the current law now in effect, the President, the Secretary of State, or the Attorney General may designate any group as a "terrorist organization". Section 202(a)(B)(i) makes deportable "representatives" of "any terrorist organization designated by proclamation by the President after he has found such organization to be detrimental to the interests of the United States." While this designation appears to be intended for Middle East "terrorist" organizations such as Hamas, it applies to all groups that "threaten the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States." Once the President has declared who the "terrorist" groups and their "representatives" are, the determination is "conclusive". The law states that this determination by the President "shall be controlling and shall not be subject to review by any court" and "no question concerning the validity of the issuance of such designation may be raised by a defendant in a criminal prosecution." Section 2339B(c)(6).

    Supporters or representatives of "terrorist" organizations are no longer determined by their connection to terrorist activities, but by their mere association with and material support of groups that have been designated as "terrorist" by the current administration. This is what is called "guilt by association", a violation of the First Amendment. Under this law the government must only prove that the actor has afforded "material support to any individual, organization or government which the actor knows or reasonably should know has committed or plans to commit terrorism activity." Section 202 (a)(B)(iii). (Of course, this would mean that everyone who pays federal income tax must be imprisoned or deported for supporting the terrorist activities of the United States government).

"Alien Terrorist" Removal Procedures

    While U.S. citizens may be imprisoned for up to ten years for humanitarian fund raising for any group designated as a "terrorist" organization, aliens are hauled off to detention and held without bail. The government may use "secret evidence" that the alien and his lawyer cannot see or examine because of "national security", and the government has the right to an "ex parte" hearing where the defendant and his lawyer are excluded all together. Even in sensational spy cases secret evidence is not allowed, but due process may be denied an alien who has given humanitarian assistance to an organization that supposedly committed property damage at one time.

    Once the Star Chamber proceeding orders deportation, the alien remains in custody until deported. If no country is willing to receive the deportee, he or she remains in the custody of the Attorney General indefinitely, with no judicial review. The law states that "the Attorney General may, notwithstanding any other provision of law, retain the alien in custody. ...Any alien in custody pursuant to this subsection shall be released from custody solely at the discretion of the Attorney General."

    Title III of the bill orders banks to freeze the assets of domestic groups and citizens the bank believes to be "agents" of presidentially-designated "terrorist" groups. A civil penalty of $50,000, or twice the amount of the assets (whichever is greater), will be levied against a bank that fails to freeze the accounts of suspected "agents". There is no mechanism for an appeal of a seizure and no incentive for a bank to do anything except zealously "freeze".

A Quiet Death for Everyone's First Amendment Rights

    Most U.S. citizens remain unconcerned by the way this law has destroyed the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of association because they do not feel threatened if someone else's freedoms are destroyed, especially if they are Arab immigrants or resident aliens. If this bill can broad brush the definition of "terrorism" and who its supporters are, the government can also stretch the definition of what an "alien" is.

    For example, let's say the natives are getting restless and America's oligarchy is feeling threatened by the ground swell of information exposing their activities. They now have a mechanism in place for mass arrests and detentions without granting bail, a jury trial or discovery of evidence. This would all be in the name of "national security" and countering the "terrorist threat". The law would simply need to be amended to broaden the definition of what an "alien terrorist" is. This could include those who have repudiated the "federal" citizenship and claim to be "state citizens", those who refuse to support U.S. terrorist activities with their tax money, or a host of other groups committing some form of civil disobedience. Groups or individuals who give material assistance to those belonging to presidentially-designated "terrorist" groups could have their assets seized. It is not unlikely that this scenario is well under way.

Who Cares About "Their" Rights!

    Americans have slept on while believing that their government has been acting in their best interests because the laws have been crafted under the pretense of restricting unpopular groups. Now that the law is in place, a small adjustment is all that is necessary to broaden its scope and power. No one's rights are secure if the rights of just one person are trampled on.

    Joseph D. McNamara, a former police official in three American cities, wrote a Wall Street Journal essay just before this bill was passed in which he said,

"It would be wise to temper our revulsion for the killers responsible for the Oklahoma City murders and our sorrow for the victims with the realization that during this century the greatest terrorists have been governments like Nazi Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, and Pol Pot's Cambodia. They murdered millions and millions of their own citizens in the name of providing security. . . . It would be ironic if anti-terrorist legislation helped destroy the protections of our Constitution and turned the delusions of the paranoids into reality."

    It is doubtful that the Hitlers in government today are ready to heed such sage advice. Civil liberties remain the target of unrelenting attack by unscrupulous politicians and their handlers behind the scenes, and if they fail to obtain their objective one day, they redouble their efforts the next. They are the true terrorists, armed with unmatched sophistication, deception and the power of the law on their side to bring about the complete enslavement of the nation.

"I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not give heed'. Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them. Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing evil upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not given heed to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it." Jeremiah 6:17-19.

 

Source Material:

Click here to read "ANALYSIS OF IMMIGRATION AND FUND-RAISING PROVISIONS IN OMNIBUS COUNTERTERRORISM ACT OF 1995" by Professor David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center

Click here to read "COUNTER TERRORISM" by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Written 6/4/97

 


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