Monday, March 15, 2004

Patriot Act Mentality Side Effects

In spite of the assurances from Homeland Security and the Justice Dept that they need every part of the Patriot Act, and that it is being used wisely, we have already seen predictable abuses of power at local levels of law enforcement. Many localities and several states have passed resolutions against the Patriot Act provisions, with more doing so every day. Now we are starting to see other abuses taking place from military intelligence sources - and this is not good news, besides being against long standing federal law:

IN A LITTLE-NOTICED side effect of the war on terrorism, the military is edging toward a sensitive area that has been off-limits to it historically: domestic intelligence gathering and law enforcement.

Several recent incidents involving the military have raised concern among student and civil-rights groups. One was a visit last month by an Army intelligence agent to an official at the University of Texas law school in Austin. The agent demanded a videotape of a recent academic conference at the school so that he could identify what he described as "three Middle Eastern men" who had made "suspicious" remarks to Army lawyers at the seminar, according to the official, Susana Aleman, the dean of student affairs.

The Army, while not disputing that the visit took place, declined to comment, saying the incident is under investigation.

Last year, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the nation's primary source of global maritime intelligence, demanded access to the U.S. Customs Service's database on maritime trade, saying it needed information to thwart potential terrorist activity. Customs officials initially resisted the Navy's demands but eventually agreed to give naval intelligence much of what it wanted.

In an interview earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection chief Robert C. Bonner said he shares data only after getting Navy assurances that the information won't be abused.

The fact that Mr. Rumsfeld has also not said a word about these "incidents" shows again that this administration intends on using the military, and letting it be used illegally - ironically, in the pursuit of saving democracy. Rumsfeld should be directing the military and all intelligence forces to obey the law. Old Soviet style KGB-like tactics are not the way to preserve democracy. With all the stated good intentions for wiping out terrorism, the means are once again becoming the ends. We can't allow any more incidents like this to take place involving the misuse of power by a few misguided military intelligence personnel against private citizens. Vets, this is another example of why we need an administration that understands, and will strongly support, the right use of the military we served in and continue to support.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link