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A Moderate Motto:
"Few things in life are as good or as bad as they seem in the emotions of the moment."
[UPDATE: This article has been completely re-written based on info provided by a commenter. The original version of the article was based on some seriously flawed info. I’ve deleted the original article.]
In the post-911 USA, we keep putting in place more and more tools that can be used by despots to undermine our democracy. Here’s another ——-
The proposed revised Patriot Act will give the President greatly expanded power to use the President-controlled Secret Service Uniformed Division (SSUD) as a nationwide police force, to have jursidiction at any place and time designated by the President in his sole discretion.
Rhetoric from the Left calls this new power tantamount to authorizing “Bush’s Gestapo”. I don’t think Bush will abuse his powers to such an extent as that, though, and “Gestapo” rhetoric is overblown.
But I fear the mere existence of such abusable new powers, because the day will come when a despot might actually TRY to undermine our democracy, using the post-911 toolset.
The SSUD currently has a very limited and very specific jurisdiction
According the the Secret Service Uniformed Division website, the SSUD now protects the following specific things:
* the White House Complex, the Main Treasury Building and Annex, and other Presidential offices;
Notice how limited and specific the list is! We KNOW who and what the SSUD protects. Presidents cannot easily abuse the SSUD’s jurisdiction.
The proposed changes would greatly expand the types of events over which the SSUD will have jurisdiction. The SSUD would have full police powers over any event the President labels as being a “Special event of National Significance”.
See the following link to read the section for yourself -
(11) An event designated under section 3056(e) of title 18 as a special event of national significance.
[FYI —– Section 3056(e) of Title 18 says: (e) (1) When directed by the President, the United States Secret Service is authorized to participate, under the direction of the Secretary of Homeland Security, in the planning, coordination, and implementation of security operations at special events of national significance, as determined by the President. (2) At the end of each fiscal year, the President through such agency or office as the President may designate, shall report to the Congress—(A) what events, if any, were designated special events of national significance for security purposes under paragraph (1); and (B) the criteria and information used in making each designation.
This SSUD police force will have warrantless arrest jurisdiction at any “event” designated by the President. All the President has to do is declare that the event has some national significance. As you will notice, there are NO advance restrictions on what events the President can designate as a “special event of national significance”.
The President does NOT have to be present at the event, Bush can apparently reach out and designate virtually anything as an event of national significance - Speeches by his supporters, conventions, sporting events, gatherings of all types …. and who knows how far and wide the courts will eventually permit him to go in bringing “events” under the authority of the new secret service police force.
At some point in our future, we will grow accustomed to seeing the SSUD at gatherings or speeches we attend.
The SSUD’s vastly expanded jurisdiction will probably lead to a constant growth in the number of officers, as Presidents continue to expand the list of events that they designate as significant.
Many people expect that Karl Rove and President Bush will abuse their power by assigning the SSUD to high profile events supportive of the GOP and its political friends, so that the supporters can be protected from having to deal with protesters and dissenters. [The Dems will do likewise when they take back the White House]
The only check-and-balance is that the President must provide a report to Congress periodically about which events were designated as of national significance, and offer up a rationale for each designation.
In the worst case scenarios imagined (which are probably not realistic), a President will have the tools to arrest protesters and dissenters at such designated events using his personal police force, bypass the court system, and deliver such persons to the military for incarceration in his already-existing network of secret prisons. Such a thing could happen, because the pieces are in place. Of course, such actions would be illegal if done for the purpose of suppressing dissent, but not when done for the purpose of “fighting terrorism”, at least that’s what the President would say.
In the era of GOP control and media dominence, we are inundated with right wing radio and TV commentators who tell us that dissenters give aid and comfort to our enemies. I think Rove and Bush agree with that assessment in private and that they encourage their media friends to continue to make the charges. And so, if Bush abused his powers and used the SSUD to suppress dissent, half the country would applaud him.
In a future time, the Dems will control the government, and will have regained parity in the media. When that happens, a Dem president might use the SSUD and the “Events of National Significance” designation to somehow suppress the voices of the right-side dissenters.
Bush has a pattern of not tolerating dissent very well. It’s well known that he excludes non-supporters from most of his speeches and public appearances. He seems almost paranoid of being in the presence of those who might question him.
And so, people are concerned about what Bush and Rove might do with their new powers.
This expansion of the SSUD’s jurisdiction is yet another way in which our nation is putting in place more and more national tools that can be used by despots to undermine our democracy.
In the current time, without broad SSUD jurisdiction, its much harder for a despot to control us generally, or suppress dissent generally. A despot would have to obtain the cooperation of the local and state-level police forces, or even the Army. But the more a despot has to obtain cooperation from other organizations, the harder it is for a despot to control us generally.
Now, though, the despot will have his own SSUD that he can send anywhere, at his discretion. That’s a step closer to putting in place the tools to enable a despot to attain general control of dissent.
Ok, so right now at least, we need not fear that our government will seriously abuse its new powers. But what about the future?1f44
END of article
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Another Tool that despots can use against us - Patriot Act proposal to vastly expand jurisdiction of Secret Service Uniformed Division
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A Libertarian Democrat is vigorously pro-personal liberty, and believes government can play a constructive role in regulating our economy and providing a social safety net.