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Quick jump to below stories:
House Votes To Curb Patriot Act
Unleashing the Resistance

[Don't start celebrating. This is only a token resistance and way too cowardly a point of resistance. Remember, the bill must still pass the Senate and be reconciled in conference committee so this is little more than a bone thrown out to encourage people to let up on their efforts to defeat the broader package. That is the real battle. Forget library records. The challenge is to keep Uncle Sam out of your medical, credit, educational, employment and tax records; not to mention to keep them physically out of your home or business where they may now go in secret without telling you. - MCR]

House Votes To Curb Patriot Act

FBI's Power to Seize Library Records Would Be Halted

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 16, 2005; A01
http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?key=20357703&url_num=1&url=
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll258.xml

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

The House handed President Bush the first defeat in his effort to preserve the broad powers of the USA Patriot Act, voting yesterday to curtail the FBI's ability to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations.

Bush has threatened to veto any measure that weakens those powers. The surprise 238 to 187 rebuke to the White House was produced when a handful of conservative Republicans, worried about government intrusion, joined with Democrats who are concerned about personal privacy.

One provision of the Patriot Act makes it possible for the FBI to obtain a wide variety of personal records about a suspected terrorist -- including library transactions -- with an order from a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, where the government must meet a lower threshold of proof than in criminal courts.

Under the House change, officials would have to get search warrants from a judge or subpoenas from a grand jury to seize records about a suspect's reading habits.

Some libraries have said they are disposing of patrons' records more quickly because of the provision, which opponents view as a license for fishing expeditions.

House Administration Committee Chairman Robert W. Ney (Ohio), one of three House Republicans who opposed the Patriot Act when it was enacted in 2001, voted yesterday to curtail agents' power to seize the records.

"Everybody's against terrorism, but there has to be reason in the way that we fight it," Ney said. "The government doesn't need to be sifting through library records. I talked to my libraries, and they felt very strongly about this."

The Justice Department said in a letter to Congress this week that the provision has been used only 35 times and has never been used to obtain bookstore, library, medical or gun-sale records. It has been used to obtain records of hotel stays, driver's licenses, apartment leases and credit cards, the letter said.

"Bookstores and libraries should not be carved out as safe havens for terrorists and spies, who have, in fact, used public libraries to do research and communicate with their co-conspirators," Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella said in the letter.

The vote -- on an amendment to limit spending in a huge bill covering appropriations for science as well as the departments of Justice, State and Commerce -- came as Bush is traveling the country to build support for reauthorizing 15 provisions of the Patriot Act that are scheduled to expire at year's end.

House Republican leadership aides said they plan to have the provision removed when a conference committee meets to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. "The administration has threatened to veto the bill over this extraneous rider, and there are too many important initiatives in the bill for that to happen," said Appropriations Committee spokesman John Scofield.

Last year, the House leadership barely staved off the amendment with a 210 to 210 tie, engineered by holding the vote open to pressure some Republicans to switch their votes.

Democrats contend that the reversal is the first sign of growing wariness about some of the more intrusive elements of the Patriot Act, which was passed just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The American Civil Liberties Union called the vote a rare victory for civil liberties.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a leader in the drive to curtail the act's reach, said in an interview that the original measure had passed "in an atmosphere of panic" and that a wide spectrum of lawmakers is beginning to conclude it went too far.

"If some terrorist checks out a book about how to make an atomic bomb, that might be legitimate for the government to know, and they can get a search warrant or a subpoena the way we've done it throughout American history," Nadler said. "Otherwise, what you're reading is none of the government's business."

House Republican leaders are not accustomed to losing, and they did not hide their anger about the result. One aide to a House leader referred to the victorious coalition as "the crazies on the left and the crazies on the right, meeting in the middle."

Justice Department spokesman Kevin Madden issued a statement reiterating the administration's insistence that the provision is vital. The statement said the section "provides national security investigators with an important tool for investigating and intercepting terrorism while at the same time establishing robust safeguards to protect law-abiding Americans."

The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Bernard Sanders (Vt.), a socialist who is the chamber's lone independent. He said the measure, which he originally introduced as the Freedom to Read Protection Act, "simply restores the checks and balances that protect innocent Americans under the Constitution."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the amendment a "message to the world." Only one voting Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.), opposed it.

The measure was supported by 38 Republicans and opposed by 186. Among the Republicans who voted for it were Reps. Jack Kingston (Ga.), Ron Paul (Tex.), C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho) and Ray LaHood (Ill.).

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[It is not the fact that the thinking and articulation of this article are absolutely brilliant and piercing that make me want you to read it. It is the woman/officer/lady leader who wrote it. - MCR]

***

[Any time you can see an accord between a libertarian and a revolutionary socialist, it's time to pay attention. Karen Kwiatkowski and I are representative of these two poles, respectively. Whatever our overarching differences on the future role of the US state, in this conjuncture we are intersecting -- two retirees from the military who went into uniform feeling idealistic and who left feeling disillusion.

Disillusion is not such a bad thing when you consider the alternative -- illusion. The world has become too dangerous for illusions. Like our ever-more-reckless political rulers, illusions have become something we cannot afford.

It will do us no good, we will make no headway against this perilous malignancy of power, if we substitute counter-illusions. Just as those of us on the left have to be disabused of the notion that the Democratic Party can be our imperfect rescue vehicle, principled libertarians like Kwiatkowski need to exert pressure on their own comrades to refocus their center of gravity away from the parliamentary tarpits of the Republican Party. Resistance doesn't happen in the echoing halls of these political managers -- these population control experts. And whether we two former soldiers see the generic state through the lenses of Rasmussen or Gramsci, we have contingent agreement that the actually-existing American state -- edging ever closer toward panopticon control, an approach that will result not in control but in more obscene suffering -- we have contingent agreement that the power of this state now has to be broken. - SG]

***

[Karen Kwiatkowski worked in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans prior to the Iraqi invasion. She saw first hand that intelligence was being cooked by order of the Pentagon to suit the pre-planned agenda of war. As this reporter has recently pointed out, the Downing Street Memo is merely icing on the cake. It's validates what anyone who was paying attention already knew to be the truth.

Now Kwiatkowski calls for the "Murder of the State." Her rhetoric is that of a Patriot harkening back to the founding fathers, but yet she uses the Iraqi insurgency as a reference for how to mount a resistance to totalitarianism. Realistically, the Iraqi resistance is less comparable to the founding fathers and more so to Crazy Horse, the Lakota Nation, and the 71-day Occupation of Wounded Knee which was waged right here on the soil of Turtle Island (North America) in 1973. - MK]

***

["Unleashing the Resistance" begins, "The Downing Street Memo explains in brisk understated English what I didn't fully understand when I worked for Secretary Rumsfeld and Dough Feith in the Pentagon in 2002 and early 2003." I thought that by the fall of 2002 everybody knew that the Bush junta had already been planning an invasion of Iraq since before 9/11. Hundreds of thousands of us meandered pointlessly up the Great Lawn in futile indignation about it, on October 15th and then in February and March and May and June. What was it Kwiatkowski hadn't understood? That American wars have been deliberate acts of aggression launched upon bogus pretexts for the past two centuries?

As far as I can see - and I don't understand these matters - when you sign away the duty to obey your own conscience, you lose your moral life - whether the violent orders you obey are legal or illegal (and whether those laws themselves are just or unjust). The fact that you are risking your physical life in the process may be awesome in its courage and stately in its nobility - but it does nothing to reverse your moral suicide.

A solemn essay from last Christmas reads, "We are hearing about soldiers and Marines waking up to a new kind of conscientious objection - a re-awareness of the right guaranteed to American soldiers everywhere of never having to obey an illegal order." So that's the trouble: Some embittering horrific orders are legal, while other embittering horrific orders are not. Damn right I don't understand.

The reason the Downing Street memos are not causing a politically significant wave of popular outrage is because everyone already did understand. The documents simply confirm in embarrassingly concrete terms the story that Scott Ritter and Joe Wilson and others have been telling us since 2002. If you're outraged now, it's because you're pretending not to have known this all along. At this point it's impossible to be shocked that a cadre of sociopathic Dominionist oilmen planned a racist war against a starved people floating on a sea of hydrocarbons. What's shocking is that we can have the very minutes of the meetings become public without any consequences for the perpetrators. That means there is no legal infrastructure, no institution of jurisprudence that can inflict so much as a flea-bite on the tyrant's finger.

Once you know about Abu Ghraib and Bagram AFB, you can't be shocked by Guantanamo; it's all one continuous horror and the shocking thing is that we continue to believe that the military - by which I mean the defense corporations and the top ranks of the armed services - doesn't run the country. Sure, the American skin game is older than Theodore Roosevelt's adventure in the Philippines - but there was also a military coup d'etat in the U.S. in 1963, and the perpetrators and their protégées are still in power. All these brutal police actions are somehow exceptions to the rule, aberrant blunders against a backdrop of benevolent lawfulness? No way.

But if there's got to be a fight, let it be against the fascists and their proxies (like Saddam Hussein and Dubya). And I want Kwiatkowski on my side, not theirs. -JAH]

Unleashing the Resistance

by Karen Kwiatkowski
http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkowski/kwiatkowski113.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

The Downing Street Memo explains in brisk understated English what I didn't fully understand when I worked for Secretary Rumsfeld and Dough Feith in the Pentagon in 2002 and early 2003.

Like a morning cup of tea in a friendly chair with nothing to do but gaze out a window at birds around a feeder, the memo is pleasantly comforting.

I saw accurately what was happening.

Yet, as Robert Shetterly and others have pointed out, accountability for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of the war gamers is not likely. At this time, impeachment for Bush and Cheney is politically impossible. A successful impeachment, or any accountability for the executive branch requires a certain balance of political power. Optimistically envisioned by the Founders, this balance was tenuous even in the early years of the Republic. George W. Bush said it best after the 2004 elections with "[my] accountability moment has passed."

Today we have not even a shadow of the Nixon or Clinton era political and media power competition. Instead, we see only unbalanced power, unbalanced perspective, unbalanced minds. A warped political-media borg warning us that resistance is futile.
The mass state, while obscenely expensive, dangerous and even ridiculous, is the present reality of the United States. Imminent federal biometric ID cards courtesy of the REAL ID Act are just one more symbol of this ongoing massification and American totalitarianism. The Congress won't impeach - to impeach its heart, its hands, or its head is to commit suicide. A pleasant fantasy for the rest of us, but that is all.

Interestingly, the Downing Street Memo is actually being reported by CNN and FOX News. It is being discussed in the major papers. Congress intends to examine it.

Hearing it mentioned on the half hour by CNN Headline News has not dispossessed me of the belief that a state suicide is impossible.

Thus, my gentle thoughts are increasingly turning to murder. Murder of the state. In self-defense, of course!

LRC's Butler Shaffer, eminently wise as always, points out that "we would be better advised to confront our own existential cowardice. Political leaders amass power only through our moral exhaustion; they are strong only because we have allowed ourselves to become weak."

To murder the state you need strong citizens who understand their rights, have honed their abilities and stocked their mental and physical arsenal, and have adopted the quiet determination and moral confidence that often appears as fearlessness, but is not.

We might take a lesson from the growing Iraqi insurgency and the response of that nation nearly destroyed by our pretext-laden invasion and the American neo-Jacobin possession of that country.

The U.S. Army wonders about the robustness and fluidity of the hard to catch and harder to kill insurgents. Clearly, all Iraqi insurgents do not swear allegiance to any single creed or leader. Understanding this and dealing with Fourth Generation warfare is not Washington's forte.

It remains wrong and immoral to demonstrate our government's arrogance, greed and incompetence each dreadful day in Iraq. But it is a helpful demonstration for patriotic Americans at home.

How do the Iraqi insurgents do it? How are they defending themselves from the oppressive U.S. managed state in Baghdad? How are they killing it?

They know what they don't want, and have made a personal commitment to resist it.

They are living at reduced standards, not only within or under their means but often proudly and creatively so, relying upon and strengthening extended networks of family and friends as they do.

The majority of Iraqis are angry, hurt, underemployed and under extreme stress. Yet most have not rejected or blamed God. Most retain a devotion to a religion, that like most, gathers its believers together, studies great and holy men and women, and attempts to explain human suffering while simultaneously embracing an all powerful God, whose creatures include both beasts of the field and the American enemy.

They don't trust the central government in Baghdad. They judge the American state's intent solely from the American state's actions, never its words.

They are wary of state efforts at law enforcement, and work hard to stay out of its dangerous and lumbering way.

They love their country, and have no intention of permanently leaving its future in the hands of either the Americans or beholden U.S. allies in the region, be they of Saudi, Kuwaiti, Turkish or Israeli persuasion.

Some resist passively, some actively. They don't understand everything that is happening, but most Iraqis have decided to pursue one or more of the countless paths of resistance to the state. Iraqis, like Russians and East Europeans before them, honed these skills under Saddam Hussein, as we hone our skills today in early totalitarian America.

All are qualified to resist. None are excluded.

French-born composer and musician Nadia Boulanger, a major influence on American music in the 20th century, once said:

Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it.

"Liberty" is also a concept George W. Bush favors. He said "liberty" fifteen times in his 2005 inaugural speech, second only to his 25 mentions of "freedom." Bush didn't specifically advocate the murder, or even the restraint, of the state. On the other hand, perhaps he did.

The way ahead is clear. We should promote our Great Leader's love of liberty and resist, resist, resist!

June 15, 2005

Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and among other things, writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.

Copyright © 2005 LewRockwell.com

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