The following are the remarks delivered
by Clark Kissinger at the panel on “Civil Liberties Since
September 11” at the Socialist Scholars Conference in
know in the first two months after September 11th, events unfolded
incredibly rapidly. Let me just give you an idea. On September 15th
the Congress gave a grant of military authority to the President of the
The President was authorized to use US military forces against any country, organization, or individuals that he felt were connected with the September 11th incidents. And there was no restriction as to domestic or foreign. He was authorized to deploy military forces domestically as well as overseas.
And the Congress also said, by the way, don’t even bother to come back to us for, to be renewed after 60 days according to the War Powers Act -- we grant you that in advance. And only one member of the Congress, Barbara Lee, had the courage to vote against this.
on the 17th of September Ashcroft demanded that Congress pass within
one week a new
within the first week the New York State Legislature passed a series of
draconian laws, you can now get 20 yeas to life for “hindering” the
investigation of terrorism in
Five states introduced legislation to expand the death penalty, two more that didn't have the death penalty introduced legislation to bring it back, all giving terrorism and September 11th as their excuse.
On October 8th Bush created by executive order a cabinet-level position, the Office of Homeland Security, and he appointed Governor Thomas Ridge to this post, the Director of Homeland Security, or as I call him, the Vaterlandsicherheitsführer. Ridge, you know, is a death penalty junkie like Bush, who signed 220 death warrants while he was Governor of Pennsylvania, including not one but two death warrants on Mumia Abu Jamal.
on October 12th the Secretary of Education Paige called on all
schools across the country to have all school children recite the Pledge of
Allegiance simultaneously on that day. The one school board that wouldn't
go along with it,
On October 25th Vice President Cheney said that all these changes that you are seeing are permanent, and he referred to it as “the new normalcy.”
October 26th Bush signed the USA
Then, on October 31st, Ashcroft announced the surveillance of lawyer-client conversations to be official at that point, as Lynne will be telling us about later. And on November 8th Ashcroft announced that the Department of Justice was being reorganized on a wartime footing.
On November 15th President Bush issued the executive order establishing military tribunals, which Michael will be going into.
And finally, on December 6th, Ashcroft told the Senate Judiciary Committee that questioning these new acts of the administration only aids the enemy.
I want to give you some sort of idea of what's there by honing in on a few provisions to give you the flavor of it. For example, sections 215 and 218 now allow secret courts to issue orders for surreptitious entry, physical searches, wire taps, internet intercepts, including temporary e-mail addresses like Hot Mail. What's also authorized is roving wiretaps. That is, no longer is it a tap on a particular telephone -- it's a tap on you, and wherever you go and whatever telephones you use anywhere can then be tapped under these provisions.
this is now going to be done without the traditional requirements of probable
cause and particularized suspicion. That is, the standards that were set
up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which
Now they come back to us and say, you know, these things worked so well we want to use them in domestic prosecutions as well. And so what we have is the falling away of particularized suspicion and the requirements of probable cause, and instead we have laws now saying that the court shall issue, when the Department of Justice comes in and certifies that the investigation underway is for the purposes of national security or combating terrorism.
213 authorizes “sneak and peek” for all criminal investigations. And by
the way, this section is not a part of the “sunset provision.” We are all
told in the press that all of this law is going to go out of effect in four
years. It's not. These laws don't go away, you know. Once they come in,
they're going to get renewed when they expire, but there's whole sections of
What sneak and peek means is that they can now issue a search warrant, come in surreptitiously, search your premises, and they don't even tell you about it. There's no more knock on the door, sir, we have a warrant to search your place for these particular items, and give you a receipt for what they take. That's all gone. They can now wait as long as they want to even tell you that they conducted the search.
Section 203 allows for the sharing of criminal intelligence information between federal agencies, including secret grand jury proceedings. You know the grand jury was originally set up to protect people from crazy allegations that weren't true. To look at them in secret, and see if there's any reason to bring you to trial.
Now, however, grand juries are going to be used for coercive investigations. Either you testify before the grand jury, or you go to jail, and then your testimony, far from being secret, is now going to be turned over to the FBI, to the CIA, to the National Security Agency, and so on. And this sharing between agencies, incidentally, is another way by the back door of bringing the CIA back into domestic spying.
216 requires that the courts order the installation of surveillance of all to
and from information on telephone and internet communications whenever the
And what I'm talking about here is the FBI's Carnivore device that they will put on internet service providers. It's not really going to distinguish between content and the who it’s from or who it's to information. They're going to be able to record all the web pages that you visit and so on.
And finally, section 802 creates the whole new crime of “domestic terrorism.” And I love the definition of this crime. “Acts dangerous to human life . . . if they appear . . . to be intended to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” So if things that you do merely “appear to be intended” to coerce government policy, you can now be prosecuted under this new law.
I could go on and on, but you get the point.
at all this it's tempting, of course, to use the “f” word. And indeed
many people have suggested, as Michael did a few minutes ago, that September 11th
was maybe our Reichstag fire and the US
a more apt analogy is the fall of the
save for a few pious wishes and petty amendments, the
Democratic Party has made it clear that there is no crime of empire that
it will not condone or be party to. This seizure of power by a small
group, Cheney, Rumsfield, Ashcroft et al., and all
these measures are justified by the declaration of a permanent state of war, a
state of war that the
I recently used a short quote from George Orwell's 1984 to describe the situation, where he wrote: “The consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.”
will venture this one prediction, that the
I do not believe that
And to the extent that the fascist analogy is applicable we need to remember the famous epigram of Pastor Martin Niemoeller. You remember, first they came for the Communists, and then they came for the Jews, and so on. Here it's first they came for the Arabs, and then they came for their lawyers! [gesturing to Lynne Stewart]
There's three points to remember out of that famous quotation, three lessons. The first is that when fascism comes, it comes by steps and degrees. They pick off the opposition one at a time. So the second point is a corollary that to prevent a police state you must first come to the defense of its very first victims. And third, in the process of losing our rights, there comes a point of no return.
This is a time that's going to put us all to the test. And it's a time that calls for resistance. By the way, this is why my organization is called Refuse & Resist!, not Analyze & Agonize.
That resistance may take the form of people fighting to free those being held in detention either through litigation, agitation, or “exfiltration.”
Resistance may take the form of courageous school administrators refusing to turn over the records of foreign students to the FBI, or it may take the form of students seizing those records for safekeeping when administrators refuse to do the right thing.
Resistance may take the form of supporting our service men and women who refuse to take part in illegal acts of war. Or it may take the form of defying new laws and measures that violate our rights of free expression and association.
But resist we must.