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December 13, 2005

ACLU calls out anti-protest provision in Patriot Act

As if there weren't enough to dislike about the Patriot Act, the ACLU is objecting to a little-noted provision that would give the Secret Service more power to arrest protesters at major events like the Olympics or political conventions.

The Secret Service is [currently] authorized to charge suspects with breaching security or disruptive behavior at National Special Security Events, but only if the president or another person under the protection of the service is in attendance, according to a legislative summary.

The [new] bill adds language prohibiting people from "willfully and knowingly" entering a restricted area "where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting." The measure also applies to security breaches "in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance," according to the bill.

Penalties for such violations would increase from six months to a year in prison.

To the ACLU, the changes would open the door to even tighter security restrictions at major events and would subject protesters to harassment from federal law enforcement officers. The Bush administration has come under sharp criticism from liberal and civil-liberties groups for disputed arrests and security measures at presidential events.

"It's cementing the trend of the Secret Service basically acting to arrest or harass or control dissenters, and now not just at presidential events but at other events," said Timothy H. Edgar, the ACLU's national security counsel. [WaPo]

According to Kos diarist Ben Masel:

Section 602 makes holding an un-authorised sign at a Democratic or Republican National Convention, a Presidential, VP, or Candidate appearance, and any other event designated by the Secret Service as a "national special security event". a felony punishable by a year imprisonment. A not much more farfetched interpretation would have made felons of the entire Wisconsin Delegation to the 1968 Democratic Convention when Mayor Daley ruled them out of order for moving to adjourn the Convention and reconvene outside Daley's bailiwick.

Section 603 makes a seperate offence of entering the Convention (or other designated event) with forged credentials, possessing such, or even perhaps the time-honored tradition of passing ones' entry pass to a friend.

Straw poll: How many of us would have gotten arrested in the last year if these provisions had been in effect?


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From the horribly depressing files of "duh" (or what happens when you put power-mad, secretive, uber-sensitive dullards who can't see beyond the end of their self-obsessed noses in charge of the country) ... Section 602 makes holding an un-authorised s... [Read More]


This has been a trend. In Miami and New York, around the most recent presidential elections and the WTO meetings, protest has been essentially made criminal.

"The right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances, shall not be infringed... until it becomes inconvenient."

Yet again, an Orwellian prediction (in Animal Farm, the written constitution, rewritten and patched over and finally ignored) is taken not as a warning, but as a blueprint.

This bothers me a lot: it's one more instance of treating the US President not as a civil servant who has been given an important work assignment, but as a special entity who is entitled to deference from ordinary subjects. We're not supposed to have kings in this country, and our Presidents ought to stop acting like them.

I wouldn't have gotten arrested, a few friends might have. That is clearly an abusable power given to the people who are clearly in a position to benefit politically from its abuse. Sheesh.

Reid Joins Feingold on PATRIOT filibuster

Reid has told aides he will vote against cloture -- a Senate procedure which requires that 60 senators support a bill being brought before the Senate before it is brought to a final vote. In essence, voting against cloture means supporting a filibuster.

"Senator Reid has several concerns including the National Security letters, the library provision, and some of the habeas corpus aspects which have nothing to do with terrorism," an aide told RAW STORY.

>The [new] bill adds language prohibiting people from "willfully and knowingly" entering a restricted area "where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting."

"or will be"? So, if the President plans to give a speech next year by Santa Cruz's clock tower in the public square at Pacific Garden Mall, then everyone in Santa Cruz that walks to the clock tower from the mall is a criminal?

Or if he eventually gives a speech at San Francisco's Union Square, or New York's Times Square, for instance, every passerby who comes by Times Square or Union Square beforehand is a criminal?


Did they neglect to make that against the law too?

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