A lot of stuff goes on, even when we’re not looking. For example, the Patriot Act is coming up for renewal. Congress displayed unusual foresight when enacting this draconian legislation, forcing the Patriot Act to die each year unless its provisions are purposefully renewed.
The so-called “Patriot Act” grants the government and the President many special powers they were never meant to have. If you do not want our government having these special powers, you are unpatriotic. It’s like supporting the troops, by making sure young men and women are always being shipped off to war, and kept there.
In the Patriot Act, it is very easy for the government to label people as terrorists. It is also very easy for the government to gag people from even speaking, under the penalty of prison. It is even very easy for the government to seize money or assets from individuals, groups, or organizations if they are labeled terrorists, terrorist supporters, or even friends or family of “terrorists”. None of these actions require a court warrant or judgment — it just happens one day.
Maybe this is good, in many situations. After all, even when judges are involved, it doesn’t seem to make much difference. The FISA court, for example, approved all surveillance requests by the government last year. We only know this because people have fought very hard to bring at least the number of surveillance requests that FISA receives, out into the light.
But if you need a more graphic representation of the dark slope we’ve embarked upon, you need look no further than a single bill introduced last year, HR 6010 “To prohibit the extrajudicial killing of United States citizens, and for other purposes.”
This bill makes it illegal for the US Government to kill any of its citizens without first giving them a court trial. Right now anyone can make it onto a targeted assassination list and be killed without any trial, whether you are a United States citizen or not, despite Executive Order 12333 from Ronald Reagan and Executive Order 11905 from Gerald Ford which forbade assassination.
It seems simple, yes? We have to be convicted of a crime, and then sentenced, and if the sentence is particularly harsh, we may be executed. Unfortunately, that’s not how it is. We can be executed outright with no judicial process, and not even any real oversight.
The bill that would ban our government from killing its citizens was sent to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties on September 10, 2010. And there, most aptly, it died.