Has US envoy to Sri Lanka read the US Patriot Act before seeking abolishing of Sri Lanka’s PTA?
The US envoy to Colombo is in the news again. After marathon visits and hosting luncheons and tea parties to many involved in the recent protests, she is now calling for the abolishing of Sri Lanka’s PTA claiming it to be against ‘democracy’. The word ‘democracy’ has been raped diplomatically & we need only look at the nations that have been delivered democracy & liberated to realize the hell these nations suffer. When anyone wants a country to remove a particular law, it means that law is a headache to their agendas. Those who call for its removal, also consider the Act to be an impediment to their agendas. While US has had no foreign terrorist threat since 2001 apart from scores of daily domestic terror from shootings in schools, churches and public places, Sri Lanka has ever right to continue its PTA given the history of terrorist activity & foreign intelligence operating in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankans parroting removal of PTA may like to look at US Patriot Act and wonder how it would apply to them if they were living in US while engaged in acts of espionage against the State.
Is there a connection with 9/11 and Gen. Wesley Clark’s revelation that US was going to take down 7 Muslim majority countries within a span of 5 years & the US Patriotic Act that Congress passed within 6 weeks of 9/11? While none of the suicide bombers were Afghan or Iraqi, the US bombed & occupied both nations and continue to illegally occupy 21 years after the invasion. While US and its supporters the world over are delivering democracy & liberating nations, it is good to know the contents of the US Patriotic Act in particular it is relevant for those parroting on the abolishing of Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act.
US Patriotic Act
Noteworthy is that most of the items included in the hurriedly passed Patriot Act was previously repeatedly rejected by Congress & sent to be passed without debate or hearings. Senators even complained that they had not been given the chance to read it before even voting. So much for democracy!
Allows US to spy on its own citizens on 4 areas:
- Section 215 allows Govt to look at an individual’s activity with a 3rd FBI is allowed to force anyone (doctors, bookstores, universities, internet service providers) to turn over their records on their clients/customers/patients.
Section 215 violates constitution because it
- violates 4th Amendment which states govt cannot conduct search without warrant & showing probably cause to believe a person has committed or will commit a crime
- violates 1st Amendment guarantee of free speech as it prohibited people being searched from telling others about it.
- violates 4th amendment by failing to provide notice – privacy being compromised. Due process is ignored which is guaranteed in 5th amendment
- Reduces checks & balances on Judicial oversight, public accountability. Govt only requires to certify to a judge with no requirement of evidence or proof that the search meets the Statue & the judge has NO authority to reject application. Its simply a formality.
- Makes it difficult to challenge government searches in court
- Many of the provisions in the act have NOTHING to do with terrorism!
- Surveillance orders is based on First Amendment activities (books they read / websites they visit/letters they have written)
- Persons or Organizations forced to hand over records CANNOT disclose search to anyone. This is a GAG order that denies individuals to challenge illegitimate search.
- FBI can secretly conduct a physical search or wiretrap on US citizens to obtain evidence of crime without proving probably cause (as required in 4th amendment)
- Section 213 allows Govt to search private property WITHOUT notice to the owner. The State can go through individuals financial records, medical histories, internet usage, purchases, travel patterns & got is not bound to show any reason or suspicion. Govt can merely state they are searching due to ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation. From 2006-2009 1755 warrants were issued. Only 15 cases involved terrorism.
- Section 218 allows Govt to carry out intelligence searches for foreign intelligence
- Section 214 allows Govt to pen register/ ‘tap & trace’ origin & destination of communications
1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act created an exception to the 4th amendment that requires probably cause with regard to wiretrap search on foreign intelligence with rationale that the search was not to put anyone on trial & therefore the standard could be loosened. The Patriot Act has circumvented the Constitution’s probable cause.
The pen register / tap & trace marginalizes role of judiciary – the judge cannot monitor extent to which his order is being used.
The Patriot Act transforms protestors into terrorists if authorities deem their conduct to ‘involve acts dangerous to human life’ or ‘influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion’. Providing lodging or assistance to these ‘terrorists’ exposes anyone to surveillance or prosecution. Align this to the current protests that took place in Sri Lanka – as per Patriot Act, all would have been searched and charged as terrorists!
The Attorney General & Secretary of State has powers to detain or deport any non-citizen who belongs to or donates money to protestors who are defined as ‘domestic terrorist’ groups. These non-citizens can be INDEFINITELY DETAINED. The US envoy in Sri Lanka may like to read the US patriot act before commenting on Sri Lanka’s PTA.
The US Attorney General has unprecedented powers to determine fate of immigrants – he is able to issue detain orders based on ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that a non-citizen endangers national security. If the foreigner does not have a country to accept him, US can keep him indefinitely detained without trial.
Many claim that the US Patriotic Act is unconstitutional & these are the points they have raised
Amends Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that allows govt to conduct searches without notifying subjects – the govt can enter a house, apartment or office with a search warrant when occupants are away and search it & even take photographs or even seize the property & tell the owners only after seizure.
FBI can simply say ‘authorized investigation to protect against terrorism or foreign intelligence’ & obtain secret court orders to search public records (drivers license, hotel records, car-rental records, credit card records, internet history, apartment-lease records) Private information of people with no link to terrorism can be searched.
21 orders were issued in 2009. In 2010 the search orders increased to 96 and these searches are increasing since.
The FBI can even issue National Security Letters without a court order. FBI issues 8500 NSL’s in 2000 and over 192,000 between 2003-2006. Only 1 terror conviction inspite of close to 200,000 NSL issued searches.
The Justice Dept refuses to even disclose how they interpret the provisions of the Patriot Act.
General Wesley Clark:
US Patriot Act
Please forward the US Patriot Act to those who demand to remove Sri Lanka’s PTA
Though US Patriot Act has been replaced by Freedom Act — the provisions have not seen too much change.
Shenali D Waduge