'Enabling' the Patriot Act

At the end of the school year of June, 1938, my parents received a polite, but firm letter from Dr. Gregor Ziemer, headmaster of "The American School of Berlin," stating that Jewish children were no longer permitted to attend. It was the only school I'd ever known, from kindergarten up through fifth grade, and I loved it. My older sisters liked it, too, because – amongst other things – there were a lot of cute American boys in attendance and everybody spoke English. It wasn't just American School, though: Jewish kids were no longer allowed into any schools whatsoever.

This rejection was based on an edict formulated by the German "Enabling Act" of 1933, which gave the Nazi government incalculable powers over individuals, groups, and targeted population components. As a matter of fact, the German "Enabling Act" of 1933 is remarkably similar to our current Patriot Act, which – according to an Associated Press release to the Portland Oregonian of June 4, 2005 – is currently up for revisions not only giving it expanded powers well beyond those it already has, but making it permanent, just like the German Enabling Act was made permanent. (The more one compares the Nazi Germany "Enabling Act" with the U.S.A. "Patriot Act," the more they appear to be Siamese twins.)

In Germany, anyone anywhere would simply disappear. Jews were the primary target, but other ethnicities such as Gypsies as well as randomly chosen persons perceived to have a "Non-Aryan" cast to their features also got hauled off. Unfortunately, the USA, currently, seems to be targeting persons of a particular ethnic background just as happily as the Nazis did. The FBI is a more-than-willing propagator of entrapment and other "stings" targeting Muslim citizens of our country.

First, it was David Mayhew, the lawyer whose only sin was being a Caucasian Muslim-American who belonged to a mosque. He was framed for allegedly having had his fingerprints on one of the bombs that blew up the Madrid railroad and it was only because of the Spanish government's insistence that this man was being wrongly detained, that he was freed.

Now, just recently, two more Muslim-American citizens have been entrapped. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, has exposed a recent FBI attempt to do away with Dr. R.A. Sabir (an Ivy League educated physician) and Tarik Shah (a well-known jazz musician). In the past, judges routinely threw out entrapment cases, because – more often than not – there had been no intent to commit a crime. But now, with the Patriot Act giving police "more effective measures to clear criminals off our streets," this has changed.

Dr. Sabir is charged with agreeing to provide medical care to wounded "holy warriors" in Saudi Arabia. Tarik Shah is charged with agreeing to train jihadists in martial arts.

According to the Washington Times (June 1, 2005) the FBI began this sting in 2003 apparently needing "two years of work and cajoling" to manufacture its case.

It should be noted, that these two latest victims could not possible have offered their services to jihadists, because no jihadists were ever present. Neither Sabir nor Shah had any contacts with any jihadists, and they committed no acts of service to them. And, most important of all, the FBI is not even accusing these two persons of actually performing the acts of service of which they are accused. Nevertheless, each one faces $250,000 in fines as well as fifteen years in prison. This, my friends, is a test case. If Sabir and Shah are put away, then the FBI, in conjunction with power given them by the Patriot Act can go on to bigger and better things.

Enabling Act Sections similar to Patriot Act edicts:

  • Enabling Act, Section 114: Restrictions on personal liberty: Patriot Act: Incipient National ID card (Portland Oregonian, June 12, 2005) may soon be using actual DNA samples as part of its data base. (If the Nazis had only had access to this kind of technology, my family would never have made it across that first border.)

  • Enabling Act, Section 118: Removal of free expression, of opinion. Patriot Act: Just recently, at a Bush rally, a youth was roundly and soundly ejected for the crime of "wrong T-Shirt wearing."

  • Enabling Act, Sections 117, 115 and 153: Removal of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications. Patriot Act supports this implicitly: Not only via National ID card but also via broad and complete access to sensitive health, business, financial and educational records of everyone, anywhere, any time. As a matter of fact, incursions into library records will allow the FBI to determine who checked out what books, and take action against individuals who may be reading the "wrong" material.

  • Enabling Act, Section 115: House-Searches. No more warrants were needed for house searches. Just bust in and grab whatever evidence, and whoever seems to be acting suspiciously, and cart 'em off. Patriot Act: Secret searches, surveillance, seizure of property and arrests of individuals without "proper cause" are now a staple of the Patriot Act, and have already been successfully implemented.

But, the major beast hiding in the political "bushes" right now, is more dangerous and more devastating to any and all of us here in America than anything coming before it, and that is the parallel between what the Nazis did to their constitution coupled with what we are about to do to ours:

The Nazis, in their infamous February 28 decree, successfully attacked the German constitution. The government then in place, was informed that the state was in danger, and that emergency procedures were necessary. Thus, all the constitution's sections mentioned above, i.e. 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 were suspended indefinitely; Period.

At this moment, in our own government, the supplemental budget bill, passed unanimously (100-0) on May 11, 2005, which assigns 82 billion dollars more to the war in Iraq, contains a provision establishing "The Sunset Commission": A committee composed of legislators whose job it will be to revise all branches of the federal government including the Constitution. Yes, this is really happening. Unless all citizens realize this, and rise up in protest, our government, as we know it – our wonderful constitution as we know it – will cease to exist as we know it!

And, twenty senators right here in the USA not only refused to co-sponsor the anti-lynching resolution passed on June 14, 2005, but refused a roll-call vote so they wouldn't have to put their names on this legislation.

Guantanamo Bay is being kept open. Comments by Dick Cheney are: "This is where the bad people are." Donald Rumsfeld, on July 15 (via Chicago Tribune News Service) states "The real problem is not Guantanamo Bay. Traditional doctrines covering criminals and military prisoners do not apply well enough." With this statement, he casts aside the Geneva Conventions, which, after all, Alberto Gonzales, our current Attorney General, has described as "quaint."

Is anyone at all aware that there are children under the age of fifteen in custody at Guantanamo Bay (as there were in Abu Ghraib) and that these children are as routinely, coldly and casually abused as their adult fellow inmates?

Yesterday, in Germany, farmers stood in their fields beside the rail-road tracks where they smiled, waved, and drew their fingers across their throats in the traditional "death" gesture when the cattle-cars went past.

Yesterday, in Germany, no one tore down the loudspeakers booming propaganda speeches at every bus stop in Berlin. No one tore down the propaganda posters which not only depicted hideous cartoons of "devil Jews" but also showed scary images of people who did not vote "correctly" at elections being hauled away because voting "No" was a crime.

Today, we accept quite nonchalantly that – according to verified and actual memos (which no one has even denied exist) – that the invasion of Iraq was planned two years in advance by Dubbya in concert with Tony Blair. No one has raised even the slightest protest against persons being held indefinitely, without cause, and without access to any kind of legal or other resources at Guantanamo Bay. No one seems to care that the Patriot Act in all its Nazi-inspired glory is being reviewed in order to make it a permanent fixture of government.

Tomorrow, then, when we watch folks being carted off – adults and children both – to detention centers, both in the USA and overseas, will we smile, and wave, and draw our fingers across out throats in the traditional gesture of death?

My biggest fear is the prevalent shrug, with its attitude of, "Well as long as it isn't in my back yard, or involving my family, what the heck do I care." That is the ultimate enabling; giving fascism everything it needs to become all-powerful. And, when it's too late, then what? World War III? Who's gonna be around to fight it? Please advise…

June 22, 2005

Doris Colmes is an independent writer in Portland, Or. The Iron Butterfly is the title of her book and her web site is: Her email address is: [email protected].