In this season of 10-year anniversaries, one almost got by me, just as it almost got by many of us on October 26, 2001. The Ashcroft Justice Department, which could hardly find a case of discrimination against a Black person or a woman to prosecute, and was busy dismantling its Civil Rights division, had apparently been busy elsewhere. Even before 9/11, they had written the USA PATRIOT Act (that’s “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” for those of you not patriotic enough to think that up yourselves).
They had cobbled bits of nefarious repression not included in the Clinton administration’s also egregiously-named 1996 “Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.” This law has its own deep problems, as a vehicle for stepping up federal executions, and criminalizing protest. The Bush regime built on it, and not because of the 9/11 attacks; a bill that long could not have been written in 15 days.
But let’s just be clear. The Patriot Act is domestic political repression, widening the government’s power to spy on people electronically, break into our homes and offices physically in “sneak and peak” operations, view our email, reading habits, photos, and much more.
by Debra Sweet
National Director, World Can't Wait