by Mark McFaddon, DGML 7258
The PATRIOT Act (or H. R. 3162, or rather, the USAPATRIOT Act, which stands
for ‘Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools
Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001’) involves a little
more than partisan politics and pre-election gotchas. No matter who wins the
recount, uh, election sometime or other, the PATRIOT Act will still be
there. It isn't going away anytime soon.
The Department of Homeland Security isn't going anywhere, because that
isn't in the nature of the beast. C'mon, Civil Defense hung in there long
after we needed people to tell us to black-out our windows; and when the
organization's title started to seem a little silly in those pre-9/11 days
it simply morphed into FEMA and got into organizing REX-84 exercises.
Here, lemme offer some ObDG up front:
Go ahead and claim that the PATRIOT Act allows your agents to do any
fucking thing you want them to do. Not even the wonkiest of your players
will be able to confirm or deny a goddam thing because only the writers know
just what the PATRIOT Act actually says.
But first, by all means do not take my word for it - have a look at the
thing at http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html . There is also a
PDF available there.
Y'see, the PATRIOT Act doesn't actually expand on what what it's talking
about; at least not in the Act itself. Rather, it lays out a Byzantine
collection of additions, deletions, amendments and substitutions to a
shitload of *other* laws, so that you would have to access a law library to
find out what the PATRIOT Act is actually doing. Oh sure, there is a table
of contents which seems to indicate what the subject or intent is of the
changes, but flipping to the relevant section won't tell you much without
the law being altered on hand as well.
Here's an example from the PATRIOT Act itself:
SEC. 106. PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY.
Section 203 of the International Emergency Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1702) is
(1) in subsection (a)(1)
(A) at the end of subparagraph (A) (flush to that subparagraph), by
striking ‘; and’ and inserting a comma and the following:
‘by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the
jurisdiction of the United States;’;
(B) in subparagraph (B)—
(i) by inserting ‘, block during the pendency of an investigation’
after ‘investigate’; and
(ii) by striking ‘interest;’ and inserting ‘interest by any person, or
with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United
(C) by striking ‘by any person, or with respect to any property, subject
to the jurisdiction of the United States`; and
(D) by inserting at the end the following:
`(C) when the United States is engaged in armed hostilities or has been
attacked by a foreign country or foreign nationals, confiscate any property,
subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, of any foreign person,
foreign organization, or foreign country that he determines has planned,
authorized, aided, or engaged in such hostilities or attacks against the
United States; and all right, title, and interest in any property so
confiscated shall vest, when, as, and upon the terms directed by the
President, in such agency or person as the President may designate from time
to time, and upon such terms and conditions as the President may prescribe,
such interest or property shall be held, used, administered, liquidated,
sold, or otherwise dealt with in the interest of and for the benefit of the
United States, and such designated agency or person may perform any and all
acts incident to the accomplishment or furtherance of these purposes.’; and
(2) by inserting at the end the following:
‘(c) CLASSIFIED INFORMATION- In any judicial review of a determination made
under this section, if the determination was based on classified information
(as defined in section 1(a) of the Classified Information Procedures Act)
such information may be submitted to the reviewing court ex parte and in
camera. This subsection does not confer or imply any right to judicial
No wonder none of the legislators that passed the damn thing when it was
rammed through in the dark of night actually read it. Hey, it says it's
patriotic right in the title, so what could it hurt?
Hey, here's a fun one for your agents to use:
SEC. 813. INCLUSION OF ACTS OF TERRORISM AS RACKETEERING ACTIVITY.
Section 1961(1) of title 18, United States Code, is amended—
(1) by striking ‘or (F)’ and inserting ‘(F)’; and
(2) by inserting before the semicolon at the end the following: ‘, or (G)
any act that is indictable under any provision listed in section
Look at that one cross-eyed and soon you're including racketeering activity
as acts of terrorism. Saddle up troops, we're hitting Club Apocalypse
*hard*. Uh, if I'm reading this right I think we're allowed to use Marines
Look through the thing. Obviously, a lot of thought went into it. I mean,
if it was a freestanding law it wouldn't be quite so imposing; but when you
consider how many *other* laws are involved in the chimerical majesty of the
USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, you've got to wonder if maybe the template was
already lying around somewhere waiting for a dust-off and an update. That's
an awful lot of law to be slapped together between September 11 and October
24th of 2001; especially considering how few legislators had seen or heard
of it prior to being expected to vote on it.
The point is that this thing is non-partisan and non-denominatonal. It's
effects are scattered all over and too complex to be held easily in one
head. And it ain't going away.
I do know that in a time where a "Clear Skies Initiative" means the skies
will get murkier, and a "Healthy Forests Initiative" means increased lumber
harvesting; the name "USA PATRIOT" doesn't make for a warm fuzzy feeling.