Passing Patriot Act Legislation
There is a new opportunity for New Mexico in the January legislative session. New Mexico might become the fourth state to pass legislation opposing the PATRIOT Act. Headed by Senator Cisco McSorley and the ACLU, the proposed legislation is House Joint Memorial 40. Currently the number of municipalities opposing the PATRIOT Act has reached 233! Why the outcry?
“I really don't understand what the concerns are with the act. ... We still have to show probable cause for any actions we take,” says LaRae Quy, spokeswoman for the San Francisco FBI office, in the San Francisco Chronicle of April 13, 2003. Actually, Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows information to be obtained if it is “sought for” an ongoing investigation. This, called a “relevancy standard,” is simply not “probable cause.” In a December 2002, letter to Congress, Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson affirms: “Under the old language, the FISA Court would issue an order compelling the production of certain defined categories of business records upon a showing of relevance and ’specific and articuable facts' giving reason to believe that the person to whom the records related was an agent of a foreign power.” The USA PATRIOT Act changes the standard to simple relevance. In other words, an “ongoing investigation,” and that records are “relevant” to it are the only requirements needed. A judge must then allow for the inquiry and even an unsubstantiated claim may suffice.
Section 213 allows a federal agency to delay indefinitely notice of a warrant in searching a citizen's home under Section 2705 of the U.S. code as amended by the PATRIOT Act. Section (E) under 2705 allows delayed notification of a warrant if it is “otherwise seriously jeopardizing an investigation or unduly delaying a trial,” vague terminology. Section 218 changes the standard under which a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance warrant can be obtained. Previously for such a warrant the “primary purpose” of the investigation had to be that of “gathering foreign intelligence.” As stated in a Senate Congressional Report of Sept. 24, 2002, FISA was changed “... to allow a foreign intelligence surveillance warrant to be obtained when ’a significant' purpose of the surveillance was to gather foreign intelligence, even when the primary purpose of the surveillance was the gathering of criminal evidence.” Still confused? The same report parallels the United States v. Soto-Silva, 129 F.3d 340, 347 (5th Cir. 1997) “(holding that a defendant who maintained a house for the ’primary purpose' of taking care of a family member also maintained the house for a ’significant purpose' of distributing marijuana)”.
In what hands lies this power? In the Dec. 30, 2002 issue of Time an article entitled The FBI: Does it want to be fixed? by Romesh Ratnesar and Timothy J. Burger, revealed that FBI Director Robert Mueller “has confounded some FBI insiders by promoting and decorating officials who held key leadership positions when the bureau missed warning signs in the months leading up to 9-11.” Marion Spike Bowman, head of the National Security Law Unit, was applauded for “exceptional performance,” although that unit did not allow Zacarias Moussaoui's belongings and files to be searched in August 2001. Mueller awarded a top post to Pasquale D'Amuro, counter-terrorism chief in the FBI's New York City Office before 9-11.
But as requests for expanding powers of the PATRIOT Act grow more ominous, and the track record of our intelligence agencies becomes more questionable pre- and post- September 11, it has been beautiful to see so many entities unify against it. We have another opportunity in Joint Memorial 40. Please pressure your state legislators to support it.
The Burden of Crime
[RE: Ortiz y Pino, “Women Prisoners Need Attention,” Jan. 8-14 ]: Gov. Gary Johnson not only provided increased funding for the construction of prisons, he also privatized Medicaid and in so doing almost eliminated the sources of medication for all released prisoners from New Mexico correctional facilities. Many prisoners are kept on a variety of very strong medications while incarcerated. When released often there is no mechanism in place to ensure that these medications are available to them outside the prison system.
It is a virtual certainty that prisoners who are on some types of medications will recidivate during withdrawal from these powerful medications or soon after withdrawal. In some cases of court ordered treatment, insurance will not cover treatment or medication. It is a revolving door system that places the burden of unnecessary incarceration on New Mexico taxpayers and the burden of crimes committed by this particular population of offenders, in an absence of proper treatment and care, on all law abiding citizens of New Mexico.
Martyrs and Freedom Fighters
In the middle of a letter blaming Israel for all the world's problems (Letters, “Why Do They Hate Us?”, Jan. 15-21), P.J. Poutsma grotesquely says that “the Palestinian suicide bombers are not terrorists, but martyrs and freedom fighters.”
Martyrs and freedom fighters? Was Hanadi Jaradat being a “martyr” when she walked into the crowded Maxim restaurant in Haifa on Oct. 4, 2003, and blew herself up, slaughtering 21 people, including four children, four-year-old Liran Zel-Aviv and his one-year-old sister Noya (along with both their parents and their 59-year-old grandmother), nine-year-old Tomer Almog and 11-year-old Assaf Staier?
Were any of the Palestinians who butchered hundreds of innocent people (including dozens of American citizens) by bomb, gun and knife since September 2000 “martyrs” or “freedom fighters?” Maybe they were, from the standpoint of their twisted culture. Not only are Palestinians taught that to die while killing Jews is the greatest possible achievement in life, but such hideously successful “martyrdom operations” are openly celebrated with dancing in the streets and congratulatory media reports.
Despite P.J. Poutsma's claims that the recipe for world peace is for the Israelis to stop defending themselves, coupled with an independent Palestinian state, the simple and brutal fact is that the Palestinians have rejected such a state each and every time it was offered.
The Palestinians do not want an independent state. What they want is what they have always wanted: the destruction of Israel and the massacre of its Jewish citizens. All who reflexively condemn Israel and turn a blind eye to terrorist violence should open their eyes and see what is really happening.
Embarrassed by Mayer
As one of City Councilor Sally Mayer's constituents in District 7, I was embarrassed by her behavior at the city council meeting on Jan. 6, 2004. I do not often attend city council meetings and the measures which drew me there are immaterial. However, I feel compelled to report publicly on what I view as disrespectful and frivolous behavior by her in this important forum during the four and a half hours I was at the council meeting.
The city council sets aside a portion of its agenda for the public to address the council on any matter of concern as well as on specific measures being brought before the council. At least on Jan. 6, these opportunities drew from a healthy cross-section of the community. Instead of joining the other members of the council in giving her respectful attention to public comments, Councilor Mayer made it obvious that she was disinterested in the public's views. She was conspicuous in leaving the council's dais as soon as public comment began and flitting around among the council's audience chatting and giggling like a sorority sister. As the evening continued (and during serious debate on one of the measures before the council), Councilor Mayer amused herself by joking and giggling with her council neighbors and occasionally leaving her seat to sit by another councilor and engage in more laughter and whispered conversation.
She would no doubt protest that she made the important contribution at that meeting of introducing a new ordinance requiring a bittering element to be added to antifreeze sold in Albuquerque. This measure passed quickly and without opposition or debate. What cannot be excused is her disrespectful and immature behavior during the remaining four to five hours of the council's meeting.
Civic participation and healthy debate is the hallmark of a working democracy. Councilor Mayer should demonstrate respect for this process, or at least make some effort to disguise her contempt for it.
Letters should be sent with the writer's name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to email@example.com. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.