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NATIONAL: THE USA-PATRIOT ACT: Congress and the White House say goodbye to the Bill of Rights

On Friday, Oct. 26, President Bush signed The USA - PATRIOT Act (H.R.3162) into law, setting the stage for new assaults on civil liberties and immigrant rights in the United States. Passed in the House by a vote of 357 to 66, and the Senate 98 to 1, the bill gives enormous, unwarranted power to the executive branch which will be unchecked by meaningful judicial review. US Attorney General John Ashcroft has directed all 94 U.S. Attorneys' offices and 56 FBI field offices to implement the new legislation immediately.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the new laws provide for the incarceration and detention of non-citizens based on mere suspicion, and drastically increases the power of law enforcement to conduct telephone and internet surveillance, and "sneak and peak" secret searches. The act also creates a broad new definition of domestic terrorism that could sweep in people who engage in acts of political protest, and empowers the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to designate domestic groups as terrorist organizations. Other provisions threaten student and financial privacy rights, and puts the CIA and other intelligence agencies back in the business of spying on Americans.

In a related move,the Illinois General Assembly will consider the Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, proposed by Attorney General Jim Ryan, during November's abbreviated "veto" session. According the the ACLU of Illinois, Ryan's proposal includes measures that would impose "draconian punishment on minor violations of law not involving serious harm to persons, including acts of civil disobedience and inhibiting lawful association", drastically increases local law enforcement surveillance powers and expands the death penality.

Breaking News:
Oakland FBI Contacts Inymedia Volunteer
Green Party USA elected coordinator targeted as "terrorist"
    prevented from flying to Chicago
No Demos Permitted in Federal Plaza
    Court Rubber Stamps Government Ban on Free Expression
Legal Self Defense:
National Lawyers Guild updated PDF(English) pamphlet, "Know Your Rights", now available in in print in Spanish and Arabic.
Other Information Resources and Links:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
American Civil Liberties Union
Center for Constitutional Rights
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund





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