Thirteen Years Ago

TimeWatch Editorial
February 14, 2017

On February 12, 2017 the FACE the NATION program did a series of interviews that included Stephen Miller, senior advisor to the President of the United States. The program was hosted by John Dickerson of CBS. According to the Free Encyclopedia, Stephen Miller (born 1985/1986) is a Senior Advisor to President Donald Trump. Prior to his current appointment, he was the communications director for then-Alabama senator, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well as press secretary for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Congressman John Shadegg.

Miller’s last boss, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions has been the subject of much controversy leading up to his appointment to Attorney General of the United States. Miller, having been Communications Director for Mr. Sessions is probably a parallel of Mr. Session’s world view. Also, his job as press secretary for Michele Bachman would only imply that he embraces the identity of a far right conservative evangelical leaning activist.

According to the transcript of that February 12, 2017 FACE the NATION program, when asked what the White House staff might have learned regarding what has occurred where the general response of the courts to the Executive Order banning Muslim individuals coming into the country from the seven nations, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen Miller responded:

“Well, I think that it’s been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many case a supreme branch of government. One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country. I mean this is just crazy, John, the idea that you have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is -- is -- is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before. The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” Face the Nation transcript February 12, 2017:

The tone and expressions used by Mr. Miller have been widely described as authoritarian, or totalitarian. The reaction to the terrorist threat by the Administration has also been described as excessive and an overreach. That may be so, but there has been precedence that may have been forgotten. Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity, writing on the History Commons website has an article entitled: “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (Patriot Act II)” in which he says the following.

“The Center for Public Integrity reveals the leaked text of a new anti-terrorism bill. Called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, it becomes popularly known as the Patriot Act II. The text of the bill is dated January 9, 2003 NOW with Bill Moyers, 2/7/2003 .  Before it was leaked, the bill was being prepared in complete secrecy from the public and Congress. Only House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Vice President Cheney were sent copies on January 10. A week earlier, Attorney General Ashcroft said the Justice Department was not working on any bill of this type, and when the text is released, they say it is just a rough draft. But the text “has all the appearance of a document that has been worked over and over.” Some, including a number of congress people, speculate that the government is waiting until a new terrorist act or war fever before formally introducing this bill. [NOW with Bill Moyers, 2/7/2003 ; Associated Press, 2/10/2003; United Press International, 3/10/2003;” Charles Lewis, of the Center for Public Integrity,Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (Patriot Act II)”

It is clear that the plans have already been laid. For further reading, you might use the links above in the foregoing paragraph. Notice that we are describing draft legislation that was pursued in 2003. The Executive Orders that are the cause of so much anxiety does not even begin to match the breath of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. Here are some of its provisions:

  1. The attorney general is given the power to deport any foreign national, even people who are legal permanent residents. No crime need be asserted, no proof offered, and the deportation can occur in complete secrecy.
  2. It would authorize secret arrests in terrorism investigations, which would overturn a court order requiring the release of names of their detainees. Not even an attorney or family need be informed until the person is formally charged, if that ever happens.
  3. The citizenship of any US citizen can be revoked if they are members of or have supported any group the attorney general designates as terrorist. A person who gives money to a charity that only later turns out to have some terrorist connection could then lose his or her citizenship. [CNN, 3/6/2003 ]
  4. “Whole sections… are devoted to removing judicial oversight.” Federal agents investigating terrorism could have access to credit reports, without judicial permission.
  5. Federal investigators can conduct wiretaps without a court order for 15 days whenever Congress authorizes force or in response to an attack on the United States. [United Press International, 3/10/2003 ]
  6. It creates a DNA database of anyone the Justice Department determines to be a “suspect,” without court order. [Mercury News (San Jose), 2/20/2003 ]
  7. It would be a crime for someone subpoenaed in connection with an investigation being carried out under the Patriot Act to alert Congress to any possible abuses committed by federal agents. [ABC News, 3/12/2003 ]
  8. Businesses and their personnel who provide information to anti-terrorism investigators are granted immunity even if the information is fraudulent. [ABC News, 3/12/2003 ]
  9. The government would be allowed to carry out electronic searches of virtually all information available about an individual without having to show probable cause and without informing the individual that the investigation was being carried out. Critics say this provision “would fundamentally change American society” because everyone would be under suspicion at all times. [ABC News, 3/12/2003 ]
  10. Federal agents would be immune from prosecution when they engage in illegal surveillance acts. [United Press International, 3/10/2003 ]
  11. Restrictions are eased on the use of secret evidence in the prosecution of terror cases. [United Press International, 3/10/2003 ]
  12. Existing judicial consent decrees preventing local police departments from spying on civil rights groups and other organizations are canceled. [Salon, 3/24/2003 ]
    Initially the story generates little press coverage, but there is a slow stream of stories over the next weeks, all expressing criticism. Of all the major newspapers, only the Washington Post puts the story on the front page, and no television network has the story in prime time. Charles Lewis, of the Center for Public Integrity,
    Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (Patriot Act II)”

This is what the draft Patriot Act II looks like. Notice the ideas expressed. Elements of the Act have been utilized, but note the “extreme vetting” that exists in the Act, not just for foreigners, but for citizens and for permanent residents.  We will continue to look at this Act as introduced thirteen years ago.

Be warned! Be prepared!

Cameron A. Bowen

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