Since September 11 there has been a series of laws passed in the US, Canada and other western nations which introduce repressive measures to limit personal freedom, in the name of “fighting terrorism.” Yet these laws restrict civil liberties and introduce harsh police-state measures which will imprison us all. These laws will definitely be used against the cannabis culture and all those who oppose the government.
A comprehensive “anti-terrorist” bill was quickly introduced in the US and is now law. The bill is called the Uniting and Strengthening America By Providing Appropriate Tools Required To Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act – The “USA PATRIOT Act” (HR 3162).
The only dissenting vote against the bill in the Senate was from Senator Russ Feingold. In a speech delivered on October 25, 2001, Feingold spoke eloquently about the many ways in which the bill failed “basic constitutional standards.”
“I believe we must we must redouble our vigilance,” said Feingold. “We must redouble our vigilance to ensure our security and to prevent further acts of terror. But we must also redouble our vigilance to preserve our values and the basic rights that make us who we are.”
Feingold complained about “sneak and peek” provision of the Act, which allow police to forego the usual need to serve notice upon a person whose home or property is being searched. This is a major change to how searches are done, and eliminates people’s ability to challenge an illegal or inaccurate warrant. This allows police to enter and search your home, photograph your personal documents, copy your hard drive, and not have to notify you until months later, if ever!
Congress had earlier tried to include this kind of “sneak and peek” provision in with the Methamphetamine Anti-proliferation Act, a bill proposed in 2000. That bill also contained a variety of harsh censorship aspects which would have affected Cannabis Culture and other pro-pot publications (CC#26, Drug-info ban likely to become law).
The USA-PATRIOT Act also limits freedom of speech. An analysis of the bill by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) shows that it “punishes speech protected by the First Amendment, even of lawful permanent residents? Under this section, a lawful permanent resident who makes a controversial speech could potentially be barred from returning to his family after taking a trip abroad.”
The law’s definition of “terrorist” is also exceedingly broad. According to the ACLU, “groups such as World Trade Organization protesters who engage in minor vandalism, abortion foes who engage in civil disobedience, or protesters at Vieques, Puerto Rico who damage a fence, would be deemed terrorist organizations.”
Although the ACLU didn’t specifically mention cannabis activists, it is clear that these “anti-terrorist” measures can and will be used against med-pot advocates, anti-prohibitionist groups, and others who grow banned plants or oppose international drug war. In fact, US President George W Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft have repeatedly stated that the drug war is a “second front” in the campaign against terror.
“It’s important for Americans to know that trafficking of drugs finances the world of terror, sustaining terrorists,” proclaimed Bush. “If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terrorism.”
By stepping up the drug war, the Bush administration will create more global violence and a lucrative source of funding for all terrorist organizations, whether underground or in government.
Canada fights freedom
Canada has also passed its own “anti-terrorism” legislation – the Act to Combat Terrorism (Bill C-36). The Canadian Bar Association opposed the legislation, along with many other organizations, claiming that the bill contained “dramatic departures from accepted conventions,” as well as “dramatic expansion of police powers and the correspondingly dramatic limitations of citizens’ rights and liberties.”
The Canadian Bar Association also criticized another recent bill, C-24, which allows police to commit illegal acts without advance judicial oversight. This immunity includes actions like entrapment, and crimes which could cause “serious loss of or damage to property.” Further, police could grant their “agents” this immunity as well.
This provision is actually an extension of the allowance for police to break the law. Originally introduced as part of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 1996, the provisions for the police to break the law were only allowed in drug cases.
Bill C-36 had a companion bill, C-35, also now law. Bill C-35 created a definition of “internationally protected persons” as “representatives of a foreign state that is a member of or participates in an international organization.” C-36 defines interference with “protected persons,” as terrorist acts. Anyone who commits or even threatens to commit “a violent attack on the official premises, private accommodation or means of transport of an internationally protected person that is likely to endanger [that person’s]life or liberty” has committed a terrorist act and loses many basic constitutional rights.
Many social activists are concerned that these provisions will be used against them at the next G-8 summit, scheduled for June, to be held in Kananaskis, Alberta. Protesters blocking a road to the summit or shaking a chain link fence could be charged with committing a “violent act” against the “accommodation or transport” of a “protected person,” thereby “endangering their liberty.” Anyone even threatening to organize such an event could be deemed a terrorist without the benefit of a trial.
Last issue we reported that the proposed irradiation of all US mail could devastate the pot-seed mail-order industry, as seeds would be sterilized by irradiation (CC#35, Marijuana and the new world order.)
Already, mail to all US federal buildings is being irradiated due to the anthrax scare. Yet it turns out that irradiation itself is also dangerous to postal workers. On January 3, 11 postal workers were made sick by inhaling toxic gas released from an irradiated package of copy paper.
Health officials explained that the irradiation process causes paper to give off hydrocarbons that are harmful when concentrated. The gas was held inside the package because it was tightly wrapped.
Irradiated mail had already caused five other incidents of sickness over the previous weeks. There have also been many reports of mail with burned edges, wiped credit cards, damaged film and destroyed biological specimens and blood samples.
The Washington Post reported that postal officials have instead requested $307 million for “particle size and density technology.” Some Congressmen have been promoting “reduced anonymity” through user ID bar-code systems.