Brand Patriot, model I and II

by Yule Heibel on April 7, 2003

One of the great things about becoming an American citizen is having to prepare for the exam (which turns out to be a pretty undemanding test). But if you don’t know that in advance, you really bone up on US history and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Amendments: you steep yourself in the late 18th century Enlightenment origins of modern America — and you come away from the exercise thinking, “This is a great system, this is one of the smartest forms of government ever devised; boy, this is a lucky country!” Because I really feel that way, here’s a pointer to an older Alternet article by Matt Welch, “Get Ready for PATRIOT II,” from April 2, 2003:

USA PATRIOT stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” — it’s probably just me, but these acronymns always make me think of the emperor’s new clothes or old episodes of Get Smart.

Welch’s article is a good backgrounder for what Patriot I did, and also for what Patriot II, officially called “The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003,” is supposed to do. You can’t help but see the most precious aspects of American democracy being dismantled, like a birdnest building frenzy in reverse, twig by twig by twig. The article includes, in PDF format, the entire 87-page draft of Patriot II, which was leaked to the Center for Public Integrity in early February. You can also link to protests from the Right against this new bill, carried by ABC News.

As Welch puts it,
“One does not have to believe that Ashcroft is a Constitution-shredding ghoul to find these measures alarming, improper and possibly illegal. (…) Removing checks and balances on law enforcement assumes perfect behavior on the part of the police.” And we know we don’t live in a perfect world.

* * * * * *

For days I’ve been intending to write a different blog, one that’s about some local issues here in BC: trees. Old trees. New money. Young women. Raging Grannies. Paul Cellucci telling Canadians off, while at the same time coming to BC to tell the energy producers that it’s important to keep the gas and energy flowing south, that it’s important that Canada continues to be the biggest exporter of raw materials to the US. Oh Canada…

But I’ll save it for another day. This week I’m taking my daughter to her piano performances at the Victoria :Performing Arts Festival, and I’m taking myself as a PAC-member to the South Island Distance Education School. And I’ll probably need the week to recover from the twice-yearly madness of changing the clocks by an hour. For me, this is like jet-lag, but without the favourable exchange rate or interesting food.

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