January 24, 2006
Unfathomed Dangers in PATRIOT Act Reauthorization
by Paul Craig Roberts
A provision in the with the power to violate the Bill of Rights. You might think that this cannot be true, as you have not read about it in newspapers or heard it discussed by talking heads on TV.
Go to and check it out for yourself. reads:
"There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division.'"
This new federal police force is "subject to the supervision of the Secretary of Homeland Security."
The new police are empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."
The new police are assigned a variety of jurisdictions, including "an event designated under section 3056(e) of title 18 as a special event of national significance" (SENS).
"A special event of national significance" is neither defined nor does it require the presence of a "protected person" such as the president in order to trigger it. Thus, the administration, and perhaps the police themselves, can place the SENS designation on any event. Once a SENS designation is placed on an event, the new federal police are empowered to keep out and arrest people at their discretion.
The language conveys enormous discretionary and arbitrary powers. What is "an offense against the United States"? What are "reasonable grounds"?
The obvious purpose of the act is to prevent demonstrations at Bush/Cheney events. However, nothing in the language limits the police powers from being used only in this way. Like every law in the U.S., this law also will be expansively interpreted and abused. It has dire implications for freedom of association and First Amendment rights. We can take for granted that the new federal police will be used to suppress dissent and to break up opposition. The Brownshirts are now arming themselves with a Gestapo.
Many naïve Americans will write to me to explain that this new provision in the reauthorization of the "PATRIOT Act" is necessary to protect the president and other high officials from terrorists or from harm at the hands of angry demonstrators: "No one else will have anything to fear." Some will accuse me of being an alarmist, and others will say that it is unpatriotic to doubt the law's good intentions.
Americans will write such nonsense despite the fact that the president and foreign dignitaries are already provided superb protection by the Secret Service. The naïve will not comprehend that the president cannot be endangered by demonstrators at SENS at which the president is not present. For many Americans, the light refuses to turn on.
In Nazi Germany, did no one but Jews have anything to fear from the Gestapo?
By Stalin's time, Lenin and Trotsky had eliminated all members of the "oppressor class," but that did not stop Stalin from sending millions of "enemies of the people" to the Gulag.
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Like the good, little citizens they have been taught to be, especially in their public schools, American "patriots" dutifully comply with the judge's instructions to convict their fellow citizens of violating this regulatory and tax tyranny.
5 shining examples of Trump’s patriotism – ThinkProgress
But the right set the political agenda, in part because its activists were willing to speak forcefully in the name of American principles that knit together disparate groups such as anti-union businessmen, white evangelicals and Jewish neo-conservatives for mutual ends.
If you want to humble an empire it makes sense to maim its cathedrals
Patriotism also has its dangers--stimulating virulent nationalism, preventing fruitful policy debates, and carelessly directing a nation into wider destruction, pain and sorrow.
America's Founding Documents | National Archives
Thoughtful expression can be replaced by thoughtless nationalism. The government, and sometimes those who control media sources, often define patriotism, and then use the patriotic definition to promote their "special interests." Attached to the definition is a bundle of "catch " expressions; "pulling together," "our country right or wrong," "no time to contradict the leaders," "our cause is just," etc. The definition places everyone on guard.
Texarkana Gazette | Texarkana Breaking News
Flag during war time, or during a National Holiday. Patriotism does not mean we are better than others, but that we are proud of what we have accomplished in this country -and that we have no intentions of giving it up. Patriotism is going to work and being a productive member of society. Patriotism helping others in your community who are in need. Patriotism is volunteering in your community. Patriotism is giving back to your community, your country. Patriotism is considering the needs of others as well as your own. Patriotism is respecting the will of the people, not the special interests. Patriotism is knowing the Pledge of Allegiance, what it means, and believing it as well as fighting for the right to utter it in public places. Patriotism is understanding that freedom of religion does not mean censorship where a select few are offended. Patriotism is understanding that freedom and democracy comes with a price, and if necessary being willing to defend it with your life. Patriotism is exercising your right to vote, understanding the platforms of the candidates, and making an informed decision based on the good of all Americans and not just based on a political affiliation. Patriotism is knowing the difference between freedom of expression, and desecrating our U.S.