September 14, 2003
The Washington Post

Tough Patriot Act Followed by 40 Nations

by Joe W. (Chip) Pitts III

Since Sept. 11, 2001, much has been said about the effect that the U.S. "war on terror" is having on civil liberties in this country. Far less attention has been focused on the cascade of anti-terrorism measures enacted in other countries -- some as a direct result of pressure from the United States, many in emulation of it.

Within two weeks of the attacks, the United States had achieved unanimous G-8 and U.N. Security Council resolutions on the subject, neither of which called for compliance with international law or human rights standards. On Oct. 26, 2001, President Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law. By the time of the G-8 summit in Alberta, Canada, in June 2002, each G-8 nation had fulfilled its commitment to have passed new anti-terrorist laws.

According to Amnesty International, about 40 nations in all had either passed or drafted similar legislation by mid-2002. . . .

The example of the Patriot Act also seems to have given foreign governments a fresh pretext for strengthening their hand against domestic critics. Authoritarian countries, in particular, leapt at the chance to align their own repression of political opponents or minorities with the global war on terror -- either expanding penalties for "terrorism" or simply applying the concept without bothering about law. . . .


Enver Masud, "Secret Evidence Laws Target Arabs, Muslims," The Wisdom Fund, August 7, 2000

C. William Michaels, "No Greater Threat: America After September 11 and the Rise of a National Security State," Algora Publishing (September 1, 2002)

[For in four years-from 1997 to 2001- the number of INS detainees increased by 150 percent-from 8,200 to more than 20,000.--Elaine Cassel, "The War on Immigrants," CounterPunch, March 12, 2003]

[In his 2 1/2 years in office, Attorney General John Ashcroft has earned himself a remarkable distinction as the Torquemada of American law. Tomas de Torquemada was the 15th century Dominican friar who became the grand inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. He was largely responsible for its methods, including torture and the burning of heretics - Muslims in particular. . . .

What makes this administration's legal bloodthirstiness particularly alarming is the almost religious zeal that seems to drive it. So, what we are seeing now is a confluence of two streams of American thought. One of those streams represents those who believe security must have priority over civil rights. The other stream represents those who believe that civil rights must be preserved even as we prosecute to the hilt the war on terrorism.

Our liberty could drown in the resultant turbulence of these colliding currents.--Walter Cronkite, "U.S. battles terror with a touch of the Spanish Inquisition," King Features Syndicate, September 19, 2003]

Jenni Russell, "Expose of creeping Orwellianism in the US," New Statesman, October 18, 2003

Evan McGarvey and Nura Sediqe, "Prof parallels civil rights of '50s, today," Michigan Daily, October 21, 2003

[On October 21, 2001 the USA Patriot Act was enacted. It sanctioned law enforcement holding immigrants without charges for seven days. But -- as a report by the Inspector General of the Justice Department has since revealed -- men were held months at a time. And many faced physical abuse in the local jails where they were held.

Finally, many were deported -- after closed hearings -- for minor infractions of immigration law that prior to September 11, would have been entirely overlooked.

According to the Inspector General's report, not one of these men was even charged with an act of terrorism.--David Cole, "Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism," (New Press 2003)]

[The investigation of strip club owner Michael Galardi and numerous politicians appears to be the first time federal authorities have used the Patriot Act in a public corruption probe.--J. M. Kalil and Steve Tetreault, "Law's use causing concerns," Las Vegas Review-Journal, November 5, 2003]

Sebastian Meyer, "Bill of Rights has to apply to all trials, including Al-Arian's," Oracle, November 6, 2003

VIDEO: "Fmr. Vice Pres. Al Gore Policy Speech on 'Freedom and Security'," C-Span, November 9, 2003

John O. Edwards, "Gen. Franks Doubts Constitution Will Survive WMD Attack,", November 21, 2003

"Nobel winner blasts rights abuses," BBC News, December 12, 2003

[China issued its first formal list of terrorists today, accusing 4 Muslim separatist groups and 11 individuals of committing violence and acts of terror,--Jim Yardley, "China List Identifies Muslim Separatists Accused of Terrorism," New York Times, December 15, 2003]

"An Agenda To Restore Civil Liberties," National Immigration Forum, January 2004

Pierre Tristam, "USA Patriot Act is Latest in Series of Bad Laws," Daytona Beach News-Journal, February 3, 2004

Madeleine Baran, "The Terrorism Case that Wasn't," The NewStandard, March 1, 2004

Jim Hightower, "Bush Zones Go National," The Nation, August 16, 2004

Eric Lichtblau, "F.B.I. Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers," New York Times, August 16, 2004

Editorial: "Dangerous Errors," Washington Times, September 6, 2004

VIDEO: "UNCONSTITUTIONAL: The War on Our Civil Liberties," Public Interest Pictures, September 14, 2004

David Cole, "Enemy Aliens," New Press (September 26, 2003)


Dan Eggen, "Coalition Seeks FBI's Files on Protest Groups," Washington Post, December 3, 2004

Dan Eggen, "Measure Expands Police Powers," Washington Post, December 10, 2004

Anwar Iqbal, "New law allows deportation of naturalized US citizens," Dawn, January 6, 2005

Editorial: "Injustice, in Secret," Washington Post, February 21, 2005

[Many argue that the Constitution is an unaffordable luxury in confronting the danger of al-Qaeda. The Supreme Court's answer in Ex Parte Milligan (1866) is unanswerable: "The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false; for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it, which are necessary to preserve its existence . . ."--Bruce Fein, "The USA PATRIOT Act: Dispelling the Myths,", May 13, 2011]

back button