2. Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

Sources: , , 2-11-03 and Global Outlook, Volume 4
Title: “Secret Patriot II Destroys Remaining US Liberty”
Author: Alex Jones

Global Outlook
Winter 2003
Title: “Homeland Defense: Pentagon Declares War on America”
Author: Frank Morales

Center for Public Integrity (publicintegrity.org)
Title: “Justice Department Drafts Sweeping Expansion of Terrorism Act”
Author: Charles Lewis and Adam Mayle

Faculty evaluators: Robert Manning, Rashmi Singh Ph.D., Andrew Botterell Ph.D.
Student researchers: Sherry Grant, Dylan Citrin Cummins

Corporate Media partial coverage:

Atlanta Journal-constitution, 5/11/03/, Patriot Act II, by E. Moscoso, and N.Achrati
The Tampa Tribune, 3/28/03, Patriot Act II, by Cassio Furtado
Baltimore Sun, 2/21/03, patriot Act Squel Worse than First, by Rajeev Goyle

As reported widely in the mainstream press, the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) represents the most extensive restructuring of the U.S. government since 1947 – the year the Department of War was combined with the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Air Force, to create the Department of Defense. The new Department of Homeland Security combines over one hundred separate entities of the executive branch, including the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, and the Border Patrol, among others. The DHS employs over 170,000 federal workers and commands a total annual budget of $37 billion. But what does this mean for the people of the United States? What sort of long-term implications will it have on the day to day lives of average Americans? These questions have received scant attention in the corporate media.

The concept of Homeland Security was thrown around the Pentagon long before the events of 9/11. Originally titled “Homeland Defense,” it was placed within the Pentagon’s “Operations Other Than War (OOTW)” command, under the stand-alone civil disturbance plan called the “Garden Plot.” Over the years, homeland defense has been extended by a host of Presidential Decision Directives and Executive Orders. Now, following the events of 9/11, the initial concept has ballooned into a vast, powerful, and far-reaching department.

One DHS mandate largely ignored by the press requires the FBI, CIA, state, and local governments to share intelligence reports with the department upon command, without explanation. Civil rights activists claim that this endangers the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Americans by blurring the lines between foreign and domestic spying (as occurred during the CointelPro plan of the ‘60s and ‘70s). According to the ACLU, the Department of Homeland Security will be “100% secret and 0% accountable.” Meanwhile, the gathering, retention, and use of information collected is a central focus of the Bush administration’s new agenda. Officially established to track down terrorists, information can be collected on any dissenter, American citizen or not, violent or not. The classification of recent peace marches and protests as “terrorist events” within DOD and FEMA documents is one example of the dangerous potential of these mandates.

As part of Homeland Security, the PATRIOT Act of 2001 allows the government increased and unprecedented access to the lives of American citizens and represents an unrestrained imposition on our civil liberties. Wiretaps, previously confined to one phone, can now follow a person from place to place at the behest of government agents and people can now be detained on the vague suspicion that they might be a terrorist – or assisting one. Detainees can also be denied the right to legal representation (or the right of private counsel when they are allowed to meet with their attorneys).

William Safire, a writer for the New York Times, defined the first Patriot Act as a Presidential effort to seize dictatorial control. No member of Congress was given sufficient time to study the first Patriot Act that was passed by the house on October 27, 2001. In some cases, while driving the Act through Congress, Vice-President Cheney would not allow the legislation to be read; publicly threatening members of Congress that they would be blamed for the next terrorist attack if they did not vote for the Patriot Act.

The “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003” (AKA Patriot Act II) poses even greater hazards to civil liberties. The draft proposal of Patriot Act II was leaked from Ashcroft’s staff in February of 2003 and is stamped ‘Confidential – Not for Distribution.’ Patriot Act II was widely editorialized against in the U.S. media but full disclosure on the contents, implications and motivations were under developed. In particular, there are three glaring areas that warranted greater coverage by the American media:

The second Patriot Act proposes to place the entire Federal government and many areas of state government under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Justice department, the Office of Homeland Security and the FEMA NORTHCOM military command.

Under section 501, a U.S. citizen engaging in lawful activity can be picked off the streets or from home and taken to a secret military tribunal with no access to or notification of a lawyer, the press, or family. This would be considered “justified” if the agent ‘inferred from conduct’ suspicious intention. One proposed option is that any violation of Federal or State law could designate a U.S. citizen as an ‘enemy combatant’ and allow him or her to be stripped of citizenship.

Section 102 states that any information gathering can be considered as the pursuit of covert intelligence for a foreign power – even legal intelligence gathering by a U.S. reporter. This provision could make newsgathering illegal, and therefore an act of terrorism.

In addition, the Bush administration is calling for a repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, a law passed after the Civil War to prohibit the deployment of federal military forces onto American streets to control civil action – otherwise known as Martial Law.

One fear among civil rights activists is that, now that the details of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act/Patriotic Act II have been revealed, the proposals contained therein will be taken apart, renamed, and incorporated into other, broader pieces of legislation within the Department of Homeland Security.

UPDATE BY FRANK MORALES: To further prepare for new “law enforcement” missions for the military within America, overseen by the Northern Command, the Center for Law and Military Operations, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, recently published the legal rationale for these developments. Entitled, Domestic Operational Law Handbook for Judge Advocates, the document reflects the growing momentum towards the repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act. Virtually unreported in any media, and published prior to 911, the document states that although “the Founding Fathers’ hesitancy to raise a standing army and their desire to render the military subordinate to civilian authority” is “rooted in the Constitution,” “exceptions to the restrictions on employment of federal armed forces to assist state and local civil authorities are also grounded in the Constitution, which provides the basis for federal legislation allowing military assistance for civil disturbances.” The JAG handbook attempts to solidify, from a legal standpoint, Pentagon penetration of America and it’s “operations other than war,” essentially providing the U.S. corporate elite with lawful justification for its class war against the American people, specifically those that resist the “new world law and order” agenda.

The handbook notes that “the Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan, named GARDEN PLOT, provides guidance and direction for planning, coordination, and executing military operations during domestic civil disturbances.” Operation Garden Plot, originating in 1968 and continually updated, is according to the JAG handbook, tasked with the mission of conducting “civil disturbance operations throughout the United States,” providing “wide latitude to a commander to use federal forces to assist civil law enforcement in restoring law and order.” And it’s exactly this type of “wide latitude” that we’ve witnessed at recent protests in NYC and Oakland.

United States Army Field Manual 19-15, entitled Civil Disturbances, issued in 1985, is designed to equip soldiers with the “tactics, techniques and procedures” necessary to suppress dissent. The manual states that “crowd control formations may be employed to disperse, contain, or block a crowd. When employed to disperse a crowd, they are particularly effective in urban areas because they enable the control force to split a crowd into smaller segments.” Sound familiar? If you were at the February 15 NYC Peace Rally it certainly does. The manual goes on to state that “if the crowd refuses to move, the control force may have to employ other techniques, such as riot control agents or apprehensions…” The Army “civil disturbance” manual, correlated to present day realities, also makes the point that “civil disturbances include acts of terrorism,” which “may be organized by disaffected groups,” who hope to “embarrass the government,” and who may in fact “demonstrate as a cover for terrorism.”

The sophistry involved in turning a peace rally into a pro-al Qaeda rally is precisely the logic that is operative within Pentagon driven civil disturbance planning situated within the broader context of so-called “homeland defense.” In fact, rather than protest being the occasion of “terrorism,” the “war on terrorism” is the cover for the war on dissent. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center spokesman Mike Van Winkle had to say recently to the Oakland Tribune (5/18/03): “You can make an easy kind of link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that’s being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that protest…You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act.”