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<nettime> anti-terror bills
AnouK AnouK on Sat, 13 Oct 2001 01:33:25 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> anti-terror bills

I admit I am a bit cynical but, I am the only one who sees it a opportune
coincidence that at the same time when the new terrorist bills are being
approved by the Senate the FBI warns of the possibility (certainty almost)  
of new attacks on the US? It couldnt be better, you scare off those you
were still unconvinced and then you vote on incredibly strict and civil
liberties abusive laws. Its just perfect.

This is what the Bush administration has done best: To fuel fear in order
to then pass laws that are in agreement with their general political
agenda but would have been outright rejected a couple of months ago. And
we thought he was dumb...

A brief summary of the content of these bills:

Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 (HR 3004)

Among the most obnoxious provisions of this bill are: expanding the war on
cash by creating a new federal crime of taking over $10,000 cash into or
out of the United States; codifying the unconstitutional authority of the
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCeN) to snoop into the private
financial dealings of American citizens; and expanding the "suspicious
activity reports" mandate to broker-dealers, even though history has shown
that these reports fail to significantly aid in apprehending criminals.  
These measures will actually distract from the battle against terrorism by
encouraging law enforcement authorities to waste time snooping through the
financial records of innocent Americans who simply happen to demonstrate
an "unusual" pattern in their financial dealings.

HR 3004 also attacks the Fourth Amendment by authorizing warrantless
searches of all mail coming into or leaving the country. Allowing
government officials to read mail going out of or coming into the country
at whim is characteristic of totalitarian regimes, not free societies.

USA Act (by the Senate -- no expiration date (yet))

the USA Act allows police to conduct Internet eavesdropping without a
court order in some circumstances, lets federal prosecutors imprison
non-citizens for extended periods, and expands the duration of an
electronic surveillance order issued by a secret court from 90 to 120

Today senators rejected the following ammendments (proposed by Sen.  
Feingold) which would have:

-- Still allowed police to perform "roving wiretaps" and listen in on any
telephone that a subject of an investigation might use. But cops could
only eavesdrop when the suspect is the person using the phone. The
amendment was rejected, 90-7.

-- Preseved the privacy of sensitive records -- such as medical or
educational data -- by requiring police to convince a judge that viewing
them is necessary. Without that amendment, the USA Act expands police's
ability to access any type of stored or "tangible" information. The
amendment was rejected, 89-8.

-- Clarified that universities, libraries and employers may only snoop on
people who use their computers in narrow circumstances. Right now, the USA
Act says that system administrators should be able to monitor anyone they
deem a "computer trespasser". This provision -- aimed at preventing
cyber-attacks by terrorists -- permits surveillance of anyone who accesses
a computer "without authorization." Feingold called the measure overly
broad, saying it could be construed as allowing surveillance of an office
worker who violates company policy by making a personal Internet purchase
on company time. The amendment was rejected, 83-13.

-- Barred police from obtaining a court order, sneaking into a suspect's
home, and not notifiying that person they had been there. The "secret
search" section currently is part of the USA Act -- and is something the
Justice Department has wanted at least since 1999, when they
unsuccessfully asked Congress for that power at the time. The amendment
was not introduced.

Data taken from Politech List and Washington Post

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