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12/09/2004

Diminution of Civil Liberties Hidden in Intelligence Reform Bill

Some of these policies may have merit. Shouldn't they have been debated?

Under the bill, a legal presumption would be established denying bail for anyone indicted by a grand jury on terrorism charges. Although the suspect could appeal to a judge, the burden of proof would be on the defendant to show release would be prudent.
The bill also allows federal prosecutors to share secret information obtained in grand jury proceedings with state, local or foreign law enforcement officers if it might help prevent a terrorist attack.
Another provision would adjust parts of the law that make it a crime to provide "material support" to terrorist organizations. Two federal courts in California have ruled the statute unconstitutionally vague.
The legislation also plugs a gap in the FBI's ability to obtain eavesdropping warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. Under current law, these secret warrants are reserved for non-U.S. citizens the government can show are affiliated with a foreign power or international terrorist group, such as al-Qaida...

Under the intelligence bill, FISA warrants could be obtained for surveillance against people the government believes are involved in terrorism but are "lone wolves," with no known affiliation to a foreign nation or group. The change does not apply to U.S. citizens, but the ACLU still has concerns.
The GOP ("The Bush administration pushed to include the law enforcement package in the intelligence measure to augment the Patriot Act") has basically increased the severity of the PATRIOT Act with no public debate or comment. Is this how we want our government to be run?

Update, 12/10/04 12:50 AM EST: The Washington Post has more. It adds:
Penalties would be increased for such crimes as harboring illegal immigrants, perpetrating a terrorist hoax, and possessing smallpox, anti-aircraft missile systems and radiological "dirty" bombs. The measure also is more explicit than current statutes in making it illegal to attend military-style training camps run by terrorist groups.

 

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