portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

government | imperialism & war | police / legal

ACLU: "terrorism" punishable by death

This new bill will create a death penalty for the nebulous crime of "terrorism."
URL:  http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=15517&c=206

Latest Provision of "Patriot 2" Comes Before House Subcommittee, ACLU Rejects Further Expansion, Calls for Thorough Oversight
April 21, 2004

WASHINGTON - Following on the heels of President Bush's road trip to promote the controversial Patriot Act at events in Pennsylvania and New York, a key House subcommittee today considered a proposal to expand the Patriot Act's controversial definition of "terrorism" to provide a death penalty for any federal crime punishable by more than one year in prison if the crime was intended to influence government policy and results in death.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:  Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON - Following on the heels of President Bush's road trip to promote the controversial Patriot Act at events in Pennsylvania and New York, a key House subcommittee today considered a proposal to expand the Patriot Act's controversial definition of "terrorism" to provide a death penalty for any federal crime punishable by more than one year in prison if the crime was intended to influence government policy and results in death.

"The Patriot Act remains one of the most controversial measures ever passed by Congress," said Timothy Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "Attempts to expand it, such as the now-defunct draft Patriot Act 2 that floated around Congress last year, have been highly contentious. Now we're seeing attempts to pass provisions of Patriot Act 2 piece-by-piece."

Federal law already provides 20 separate death penalties for serious terrorism crimes, including bombings, hijackings, assassinations and hostage taking.



Testifying at today's hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, Edgar reminded committee members that the Justice Department has not been forthcoming in its disclosures regarding how the Patriot Act has been used so far, saying Congress should review existing powers before adding to them.

"This proposal will rightly be seen as another federal infringement on civil liberties that will not make America safer," Edgar added. "It will result in increasing mistrust, both at home and abroad, even of legitimate anti-terrorism efforts and further isolate America in the world. It should be rejected."

The proposed legislation would do two things. First, it would make 23 crimes eligible for the death penalty. Second, it would create an unprecedented "catch-all" death penalty for any other federal crime punishable by more than a year in prison if it meets the PATRIOT Act's overbroad definition of terrorism and results in death. The ACLU said that protestors and activists from groups including Greenpeace and Operation Rescue could risk being sentenced to death for participating in certain civil disobedience events if they involved a federal crime punishable by more than a year in prison and resulted in a death of one of the participants or someone else.

Laws such as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and the federal gun control regime at 18 U.S.C. 922, among many other crimes, could carry death sentences if the bill passed, Edgar said.

The ACLU also noted that the proposal could actually hurt the anti-terror efforts. Many nations that have abolished the death penalty are unwilling to extradite or provide evidence in federal terrorism cases if the death penalty might result from their cooperation. Suicidal, politically motivated terrorists such as members of Al Qaeda would be unaffected as often they are seeking to create martyrs for their causes and to generate publicity.



The ACLU's testimony on HR 2934, the "Terrorist Penalties Enhancement Act of 2003" can be found at:
 http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=15513&c=206
Patriot Act Note 22.Apr.2004 17:59

researcher

If their was justice and the rule of law was operating in the United States we could trust the laws being posed in Washington. The problem is the gang of criminals will selectively apply their laws for political and financial gain. My hope is that the Bush team, that has been terrorizing the American people and the citizens of the world, would be tried under the Patriot act and executed for their crimes.

"researcher" has it right ! 22.Apr.2004 20:08

politics as possible

This is why the Bush gang is desperate to stay in power. They really could be prosecuted for their crimes under the expanded powers of the executive branch and the U.S. Attorney General. The question is "Will a Kerry administration have the balls to carry through on this?" (Assuming we will even see a Kerry administration!) And, beyond that, there is the problem of the slim 5-4 majority of corrupted Bush Republicans on the Supreme Court --- reflected throughout the Federal Courts (with the possible exception of the Ninth Circuit). So, even if we could get an Attorney General with the "cojones" required to toss the lying thieves beyond bars, can we reform the Federal courts to the degree necessary to accomplish this?

it's more tragic than y'all think. 22.Apr.2004 20:20

kerry=bush

Even if there is a Kerry win, it won't mean anything. Kerry is funded by the same people and member of the same secret societies. He will never "try the bush administration." He will use it on us to justify killing us.

This isn't a way to win, it's another peice of the puzzle that will be used to kill all of us who oppose the emerging tyranny.

Executing protestors will unleash holy hell... 23.Apr.2004 15:01

Galadrial

This sort of behavior by the Department of Injustice would instantly raise the stakes for everyone, and likely lead to a sharp increase in the number of activists preparing to use armed force to resist arrest. Executions would cause an unbelievable increase in teh use of force by activists, and would convince newcomers that only underground activism gave any chance of survival.

It also would almost certainly lead to the most severe forms of retaliatory actions by underground groups. Ashcroft,you do NOT want to open this can of whoop-ass!

Galadrial 23.Apr.2004 19:09

Dio

Good name for a writer of fantasy.

A cursory reading of US history will reveal that even obvious assassinations of activists result in a blizzard of media outrage, against the activists, and a rapid melting away of support.

Some activists go underground to escape arrest, and lynch-mobs of their former supporters.