EYES WIDE OPEN: Part Four – by Lou Blanchard

   Earlier in this series, this writer expressed concern that the “Patriot” Act might be the Reichstag Fire of our own day. Jesse Ventura’s crucial new book, 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read, gives this startlingly incisive analysis:

Here’s what should concern us all: if you look back at the US Patriot Act that Congress passed almost unanimously in the wake of 9/11, the Bill of Rights was already in peril. Let me offer a brief outline of how things changed.

The First Amendment is about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to assemble. The Patriot Act says that the government is free to monitor religious and political institutions without any suspicion of criminal activity. The government can also prosecute librarians or the keepers of any other records (including journalists) related to a “terror investigation.”

The Fourth Amendment speaks to our right to be secure “against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Patriot Act says the government can search and seize Americans’ papers and effects without probable cause.

The Sixth Amendment entitles anyone accused of a crime to “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.” The Patriot Act says the government can jail Americans without a trial.

The Sixth Amendment says an accused person has “compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” The Patriot Act says the government can monitor conversations between attorneys and clients in federal prisons and even deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.

The Sixth Amendment also says an accused criminal must “be confronted with the witnesses against him.” The Patriot Act says Americans can be jailed without even being charged, let alone face any witnesses.

What troubles me more than anything is how Congress can simply vote to supersede the Constitution. They’re not allowed to do that, to vote in new rules arbitrarily. Changing the Constitution requires you to go through many hoops. How can we allow this kind of unprecedented change to happen?

At the same time, it’s recently been reported that our government is building up a huge domestic spying network to collect information on us all, involving local police, state and military authorities feeding information into a database on people who’ve never been accused of wrongdoing. Homeland security has given billions of dollars in grants to state governments since 9/11, and there are now more than 4,000 organizations in the domestic apparatus. The FBI keeps the ultimate file, with profiles of tens of thousands of Americans reported to be “acting suspiciously.” (I’m sure I’m one of them.) Also the technologies we’ve developed for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are now being used by law enforcement agencies at home – hand-held fingerprint scanners, biometric data devices, unmanned aircraft monitoring our borders with Mexico and Canada.

In other words, we the taxpayers are funding our own government to keep tabs on what we do. This is outrageous, but it’s been a long time coming. Our tax dollars have paid for mind control experiments and assassination attempts and fake attacks to draw us into war. Our tax dollars have funded drug runners and “extraordinary rendition” of detainees. And they’ve not been used in places where they should be going – like to help our veterans cope with Gulf War Syndrome and to keep the nation of Rwanda from mass genocide. What right does the government have to abuse our money like that?

I’ve put together this book because it’s become crystal-clear that our democracy has been undermined from within and it’s been going on for a long time. We the people have got to wake up and start demanding accountability! Let’s never forget the words of Patrick Henry: “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”

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