FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Patriot Act Spawns Similar Laws Across the Globe

by ELAINE CASSEL

Great Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, to name a few of our international “friends,” have enacted versions of our post-September 11 laws that curtail civil liberties in the name of fighting “terror.” The USA Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act, and dozens of Executive Orders entered by President Bush, Attorney General Ashcroft, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and even Secretary of State Colin Powell have stripped citizens and resident aliens alike of legal protections and constitutional guarantees.

The “free” world is watching and their governments, recognizing an opportunity to seize power in the name of survival, have followed suit. Canada was the first country to pass a virtual mirror of our Patriot Act, within weeks of ours. Australia and Great Britain followed shortly, and South Africa is struggling with one now. Unlike the U.S., Australia, Great Britain, and Canada, countries that did not bother to debate the merits of curtailing liberty, there is a strong movement of dissent in South Africa. Blacks, and concerned whites there, see the specter of apartheid returning under the guise of “national” security.

Just as American courts are handing the government victories right and left (on November 7, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that holding someone as a material witness forever is just fine–no charge, no attorney, just lock you up until they want to talk to you–if ever–and if you wont’ talk you will be found in contempt of court and serve years in prison), the courts in Britain are upholding that country’s usurpation of power.

On October 29, 2003, 10 men accused of being involved in international terrorism lost an appeal against their detention without charge or trial since 2001. The men were arrested solely on the say-so of Home Secretary David Blunkett, who alleges that they were connected to groups linked to Al-Qaeda. Most of them have been held for the past two years in high-security prisons or mental hospitals.

The 10 were interned under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, which added to the powers contained in the Terrorism Act 2000 and came into force two months after the September 11 bombings. Sixteen foreign nationals have been held under its provisions. Under the ATCSA, non-UK nationals certified as “suspected international terrorists and national security risks” by the home secretary can be detained without charge or trial for an unlimited period. Detention can be based on secret evidence-which the detainee and their counsel cannot see, hear, or challenge.

The appeal was also heard largely in secret by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a panel of three judges and no jury. As a result of these Kafkaesque procedures, the names of only two of the detainees are known. One, Jamal Ajouaou, is a Moroccan citizen who has already agreed to return to his home country. The other is Palestinian asylum seeker Mahmoud Abu Rideh, a 32-year-old father of five who has lived in Britain since 1995 and is now held in Broadmoor high-security mental hospital. The remaining eight are known only by a letter of the alphabet.

None have been accused of actual crimes, but only of membership of one of the 39 organizations proscribed under the Terrorism Act. Representatives of the security services presented testimony, and the men were not allowed to know the nature of this evidence against them.

In making its verdict, SIAC operated on the assumption that the government only had to prove it had “reasonable grounds to suspect” the men were linked with terrorism. Admitting that the evidence presented would not stand up in a court of law, the judges’ ruling stated that “the standard of proof is below a balance of probabilities.”

The men expect to remain in prison for the rest of their lives, in a status similar to the “enemy combatant” category used in the US to intern people it does not want to try.

In another British case, the High Court upheld the practice of police stopping and searching peaceful demonstrators at an arms convention under its Terrorism Act of 2000. The court found that “The exercise and use of the power was proportionate to the gravity of the [terrorism] risk.” Police routinely employ these powers in every day situations now, according to a report in the Guardian.

The U.S. plans to make the Mideast “free,” according to his latest announcement of a grand imperialistic agenda. Suppression of the free world, “freedom” to the supposed “oppressed” Arabs–what do these governments really have in mind for us all?

ELAINE CASSEL practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teachers law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime’s dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. She can be reached at: ecassel1@cox.net

 

More articles by:
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Muller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OSFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail