Civil Liberties in Grave Danger
October 11, 2004
Friends Committee for National Legislation
Flying under the false flag of "fulfilling 9/11 Commission recommendations," Senate and House bills are being rushed to a vote that would target critical US civil liberties protections that have been protected by the US Constitution. Please contact your senators and representatives and let them know your feelings on these bills.
Some of the legislative measures and amendments, particularly S. 2845, a measure introduced in the Senate by Sen. Collins (ME) and Sen. Lieberman (CT), have been bi-partisan efforts, carefully drafted to respond to the commission's recommendations.
Others, most dramatically HR 10, introduced by Speaker Hastert (IL) in the House, and amendments to S. 2845 introduced by Sen. Kyl (AZ) in the Senate, do not follow the 9/11 Commission's recommendations about security and are freighted with provisions that diminish civil liberties protections.
Taken together, these provisions include (but are not limited to):
• establishment of a national ID card, disguised as national standardization of drivers licensing;
• establishment of a national electronic database for birth and death certificates, with permanent identifying information assigned to each individual, such as a national ID number;
• biometric identifiers - including fingerprints, face recognition software photos, iris or retinal scans, and other private physical identification - for travel documents which would be used for security in domestic air travel as well as overseas travel;
• expanded secret eavesdropping and search powers to be used against individuals suspected of terrorist activity, whether or not the individual is associated with a foreign power;
• further weakening of individual privacy rights in library, medical, and other personal records, removing all federal court oversight;
• enhanced "material support" provisions, allowing guilt by association with a group targeted by the administration; removal of habeas corpus relief for those detained under repressive immigration measures;
• approval of automatic detention without bail in immigration matters at the government's request;
• increased secrecy in immigration court matters;
• approval of the use of secret evidence in immigration courts - secret even to the immigrant being examined;
• deportation of immigrants before final appeal;
• allowing the death penalty in terrorism cases (with "terrorism" as defined in the USA PATRIOT Act);
• explicit approval of transfer of prisoners suspected of terrorism to nations known to practice torture; and
• failure to provide for a cross-agency civil liberties board for oversight and investigation of civil liberties practices and procedures in the executive branch of the federal government.
Many of these provisions have already been passed in Canada; see:
Also, provisions regarding the invasion of privacy will apply to information on Canadians in the hands of US based travel and credit reporting companies.