[eDebate] edward said's last article (kafka and assorted goodies)

Kevin Sanchez let_the_american_empire_burn
Sat Sep 27 22:33:18 CDT 2003


_ stroube quotes edward said (here: 
http://www.ndtceda.com/archives/200309/0431.html) - i'd only remind readers 
that the last pages of kafka's 'penal colony' end with the staunch advocate 
of the torture chair strapping himself into it and putting himself to death, 
and this is precisely the way the israeli-palestinian conflict will end if 
israel continues its occupation of palestine.

_ will someone who supported the bush administration's invasion of irak 
please answer me this: if the u.s.a. was acting to enforce u.n. resolutions 
which forbid all nations in the middle east from acquiring weapons of mass 
destruction, why does the usa still give tens of billions of dollar in 
military assistance to israel despite their having a clandestine nuclear 
program? why are iran's nuclear ambitions at issue while israel's go 
unmentioned?
      yet another example of imperial hypocrisies which accomplish nothing 
but the pading of arms-traders' pocket-books and recruitment for al-qaeda's 
next 'spectacular' attack.}

_ in other news, josh hoe and others seemed incredibly surprised that the 
federalis can imprison whomever they wish under the label 'unlawful 
combatant' ... actually, that term has a legal history that goes back 
hundreds of years and has been used against anarchists and other nation-less 
enemies of the empire. only a few americans have been imprisoned 
indefinately using the precedent (that we know of so far).

       actually, a while back 
(http://www.ndtceda.com/archives/200302/0620.html), john aschcroft was asked 
in a congressional hearing by representative bobby scott, 'what if you're 
someone who was been held without charge and you've been denied access to a 
lawyer, and you're innocent - there's been some bogus info or a case of 
mistaken identity - how do you go about getting out of jail?', and the 
attorney general of this 'free country' responded, 'well when you're 
classified as an enemy combatant, you'd have to wait until the end of the 
conflict'. suchlike practices will no doubt increase as the 'war on terror' 
rolls on. if the terrorists are really after 'our freedom' (a idiocy i've 
never believed), then it is fair to say they're winning. this was in the new 
yourk times ...

__

U.S. Uses Terror Law to Pursue Crimes From Drugs to Swindling
Sat Sep 27 - By ERIC LICHTBLAU

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 ? The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot 
Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun using 
the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have 
little or no connection to terrorism.


The government is using its expanded authority under the far-reaching law to 
investigate suspected drug traffickers, white-collar criminals, 
blackmailers, child pornographers, money launderers, spies and even corrupt 
foreign leaders, federal officials said.


Justice Department (news - web sites) officials say they are simply using 
all the tools now available to them to pursue criminals ? terrorists or 
otherwise. But critics of the administration's antiterrorism tactics assert 
that such use of the law is evidence the administration has sold the 
American public a false bill of goods, using terrorism as a guise to pursue 
a broader law enforcement agenda.


Justice Department officials point out that they have employed their 
newfound powers in many instances against suspected terrorists. With the new 
law breaking down the wall between intelligence and criminal investigations, 
the Justice Department in February was able to bring terrorism-related 
charges against a Florida professor, for example, and it has used its 
expanded surveillance powers to move against several suspected terrorist 
cells.


But a new Justice Department report, given to members of Congress this 
month, also cites more than a dozen cases that are not directly related to 
terrorism in which federal authorities have used their expanded power to 
investigate individuals, initiate wiretaps and other surveillance, or seize 
millions in tainted assets.


For instance, the ability to secure nationwide warrants to obtain e-mail and 
electronic evidence "has proved invaluable in several sensitive nonterrorism 
investigations," including the tracking of an unidentified fugitive and an 
investigation into a computer hacker who stole a company's trade secrets, 
the report said.


Justice Department officials said the cases cited in the report represent 
only a small sampling of the many hundreds of nonterrorism cases pursued 
under the law.


The authorities have also used toughened penalties under the law to press 
charges against a lovesick 20-year-old woman from Orange County, Calif., who 
planted threatening notes aboard a Hawaii-bound cruise ship she was 
traveling on with her family in May. The woman, who said she made the 
threats to try to return home to her boyfriend, was sentenced this week to 
two years in federal prison because of a provision in the Patriot Act on the 
threat of terrorism against mass transportation systems.


And officials said they had used their expanded authority to track private 
Internet communications in order to investigate a major drug distributor, a 
four-time killer, an identity thief and a fugitive who fled on the eve of 
trial by using a fake passport.


In one case, an e-mail provider disclosed information that allowed federal 
authorities to apprehend two suspects who had threatened to kill executives 
at a foreign corporation unless they were paid a hefty ransom, officials 
said. Previously, they said, gray areas in the law made it difficult to get 
such global Internet and computer data.


The law passed by Congress just five weeks after the terror attacks of Sept. 
11, 2001, has proved a particularly powerful tool in pursuing financial 
crimes.


Officials with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement have seen a 
sharp spike in investigations as a result of their expanded powers, 
officials said in interviews.


A senior official said investigators in the last two years had seized about 
$35 million at American borders in undeclared cash, checks and currency 
being smuggled out of the country. That was a significant increase over the 
past few years, the official said. While the authorities say they suspect 
that large amounts of the smuggled cash may have been intended to finance 
Middle Eastern terrorists, much of it involved drug smuggling, corporate 
fraud and other crimes not directly related to terrorism.


The terrorism law allows the authorities to investigate cash smuggling cases 
more aggressively and to seek stiffer penalties by elevating them from what 
had been mere reporting failures.


Customs officials say they have used their expanded authority to open at 
least nine investigations into Latin American officials suspected of 
laundering money in the United States, and to seize millions of dollars from 
overseas bank accounts in many cases unrelated to terrorism.


In one instance, agents citing the new law seized $1.7 million from United 
States bank accounts that were linked to a former Illinois investor who fled 
to Belize after he was accused of bilking clients out of millions, federal 
officials said.


Publicly, Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites) and senior 
Justice Department officials have portrayed their expanded power almost 
exclusively as a means of fighting terrorists, with little or no mention of 
other criminal uses.


"We have used these tools to prevent terrorists from unleashing more death 
and destruction on our soil," Mr. Ashcroft said last month in a speech in 
Washington, one of more than two dozen he has given in defense of the law, 
which has come under growing attack. "We have used these tools to save 
innocent American lives."

Internally, however, Justice Department officials have emphasized a much 
broader mandate.

A guide to a Justice Department employee seminar last year on financial 
crimes, for instance, said: "We all know that the USA Patriot Act provided 
weapons for the war on terrorism. But do you know how it affects the war on 
crime as well?"

Elliot Mincberg, legal director for People for the American Way, a liberal 
group that has been critical of Mr. Ashcroft, said the Justice Department's 
public assertions had struck him as misleading and perhaps dishonest.

"What the Justice Department has really done," he said, "is to get things 
put into the law that have been on prosecutors' wish lists for years. 
They've used terrorism as a guise to expand law enforcement powers in areas 
that are totally unrelated to terrorism."

A study in January by the General Accounting Office (news - web sites), the 
investigative arm of Congress, concluded that while the number of terrorism 
investigations at the Justice Department soared after the Sept. 11 attacks, 
75 percent of the convictions that the department classified as 
"international terrorism" were wrongly labeled. Many dealt with more common 
crimes like document forgery.

The terrorism law has already drawn sharp opposition from those who believe 
it gives the government too much power to intrude on people's privacy in 
pursuit of terrorists.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union 
(news - web sites), said, "Once the American public understands that many of 
the powers granted to the federal government apply to much more than just 
terrorism, I think the opposition will gain momentum."

Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary 
Committee (news - web sites), said members of Congress expected some of the 
new powers granted to law enforcement to be used for nonterrorism 
investigations.

But he said the Justice Department's secrecy and lack of cooperation in 
implementing the legislation have made him question whether "the government 
is taking shortcuts around the criminal laws" by invoking intelligence 
powers ? with differing standards of evidence ? to conduct surveillance 
operations and demand access to records.

"We did not intend for the government to shed the traditional tools of 
criminal investigation, such as grand jury subpoenas governed by 
well-established precedent and wiretaps strictly monitored" by federal 
judges, he said.

Justice Department officials say such criticism has not deterred them. 
"There are many provisions in the Patriot Act that can be used in the 
general criminal law," Mark Corallo, a department spokesman, said. "And I 
think any reasonable person would agree that we have an obligation to do 
everything we can to protect the lives and liberties of Americans from 
attack, whether it's from terrorists or garden-variety criminals."

__

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