9/11 IS NO EXCUSE

Rudy Giuliani is famous for injecting 9/11 into just about any speech or public presentation he has made since that date. That is laughable in its own vile twisted way. What is not laughable on any level is the extremes our governments are going to using that horrible day as justification for sundry assaults on civil liberties. They invoke that day’s stark visions to dampen any objection to the escalating violation of our rights.

“If it is done in the name of fighting terrorism, it must be okay” goes the non-thinking of otherwise respectable and considerate American citizens. Most especially when these measures have openly or clandestinely targeted Muslims there is little outcry even from those who have become famous of late for their slogan “We want our country back”

Somehow their vitriol towards alleged unconstitutional usurpation of their rights extends only to imagined restrictions on them getting rich(er) not to the people whose lives have been upheaved with criminal charges, laws aimed at Don Quixotean-like windmills, and even physical violence. All this in the name of good order and protecting us and the “American Way”.

Well I mean to tell you, this ain’t no truth, this ain’t no justice, and this ain’t no American Way. If there were a Superman he would be consumed by zipping counterclockwise around the Earth at the speed of light to reverse time to the period before these abuses took hold. 

Exhibit A is our federal government and it’s refusal to adhere to the Fourth Amendment. You know the one that reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

While all levels of government in this great land have routinely acted as if they were exempt from this provision, the Supreme Court usually made clear the limitations of any permissible exceptions to obtaining a search warrant. That despite the seemingly no exceptions allowed by the explicit language of the Amendment itself.

In any event now the special exceptions seem to arise out of our need to fight the “war on terror”, which is really only another anti-crime crusade garbed in fancier attire and elevated to the equivalent of the “ball of the year” category of importance.

These warrantless searches concerning international espionage were codified in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which also created a secret court. This law was passed under Jimmy Carter and used by every President since then, an echelon of bipartisanship unrealized for any vital issues which really benefit the nation. And its use has become neither exclusively foreign nor always intelligent.

 There is also the  Electronic Communications Privacy Act (more like the Electronic Communications Privacy Be Damned Act) passed in 1986. From the feds to local Mayberry cops, all that law enforcers needs in order to obtain an order allowing evesdropping is to file a procedural request with a judge certifying that the information will be used in conjunction with a criminal investigation. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/28/warrantless-electronic-surveillance-obama_n_1924508.html

Note here the absence of any requirement of “probable cause”.

Then, if that were not bad enough, in the wake of 9/11 came the odious Patriot Act with some uniquely egregious provisions that took warrantless searches to virgin territory. It provided for:

indefinite detentions of immigrants; searches through which law enforcement officers search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s permission or knowledge; the expanded use of   , which allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order, and the expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_Act

We had a “surge” in Iraq, followed by another “surge” in Afghanistan. Now we have a surge in electronic surveillance.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/28/warrantless-electronic-surveillance-obama_n_1924508.html

That story relates how the Obama administration has greatly expanded the use of that technique. Not that the numbers weren’t on the upswing under Bush. But the recent increase resembles the increase in major league home runs when steroid use was rampant.

I dunno. I don’t feel safer due to this activity…do you?

Another outgrowth of post 9/11 paranoia was the ridiculous and Constitution bending efforts to restrict Muslims, whether forbidding the building of mosques or utterly nonsensical legislative rejections of Shariah law.

But worse than  that was the attempt to paint all Muslims as terrorists by using police informants to spy on and intimidate them.

Chief among the offenders in this latter category is the not so finest of the New York City Police Department. It not only has spied on Muslims—American citizens— it has parlayed its increased power (derived from the understandable sympathies generated due to many of its brave members dying in the twin towers) into an organization not unlike an army, complete with foreign missions and heavy-handed, take-no-prisoners tactics.

There has been great consternation in the Big Apple over its ban on super large soft drinks. The real concern should be on its super large police force with all the battle capabilities of small nations.

Again less objection has come to these developments than might otherwise have been due to the aftermath of 9/11. But make no mistake, the offenses of the department are in no way related to fighting terrorism but instead are indicative of allowing the force to be an unmitigated bully in its own domain.

This story in Salon presents the case for reining in the department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s oversight of it.

In an email published by WikiLeaks, an FBI official joked about how shocked Americans would be if they knew how egregiously the NYPD is stomping all over their civil liberties. But what we already know is bad enough. http://www.salon.com/2012/09/28/nine_terrifying_facts_about_americas_biggest_police_force/

The story then goes on to detail the nine terrifying facts complete with reference to its sources. They range from “stop and frisk’ of people going about their business, an amazing percentage of which are minorities, to intentionally botching an investigation of a fellow officer for criminal actions.

Now I’m not so worried about that naked city of eight million people. Even if I visit again I’m white, over 60, and will obviously resemble the tourist I will be. My chances of being assailed by the cops are almost invisibly low.

But my fear is that in our post 9/11 world all the distribution of anti-terror funds and military armaments to local police forces will push them towards emulation of the Big Apple constabulary. There is some evidence of this trend already as witness the treatment of public demonstrations in our major cities during the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011.

Given the reputation in fact and legend of small town law enforcement for greed, corruption, and mistreatment of alleged miscreants, can it be too long until Bufurd T. Justice echoes the contempt for critics exhibited by NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly when he told reporters questioning him to “fuck off”? That should have brought him at least a summons for disturbing the peace.

Such an attitude certainly disturbs my peace.


Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Please give me your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: