Why the Advocates for Self-Government created this page
In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, many politicians
are using the crisis as an excuse to push for severe restrictions on
basic American civil liberties. Many of these are the same old proposals
friends of liberty have been fighting for years, now dusted off and
re-introduced as “anti-terrorism” bills. Others are new threats.
National IDs, increased government spying on citizens, severe
restrictions on crucial Bill of Rights freedoms, a dangerous expansion
of the power of the executive branch of government…. this is some of
what we’re facing post-Sept. 11.
The result: many voices from across the political spectrum are saying
we are facing the worst civil liberties crisis in decades. (See below
for some examples.)
This page is our effort to help liberty-minded people learn about the
grave new threats to our civil liberties -- and DO SOMETHING about it.
Defending liberty, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights is the
highest form of patriotism.
As libertarians, we proudly affirm the right of each individual to
freely live in any peaceful way he or she chooses, as long as they
respect the rights of others.
We welcome people of all political persuasions to join us in
protecting America’s precious heritage of individual liberty.
If you care about liberty in America, please read on.
* * *
IS THERE A “CIVIL LIBERTIES CRISIS?”
Prominent voices from across the political spectrum say “Yes.”
Here are some examples:
The ACLU says we’re facing: “…one of the most serious civil
liberties crises our nation has ever seen.”
NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre says:: "We've witnessed a fire sale
of American liberties at bargain basement prices, in return for the
false promise of more security...The America being designed right now
won't resemble the America we've been defending….The danger isn't that
Big Brother may storm the castle gates. The danger is that Americans
don't realize that he is already inside the castle walls."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation warns: “The civil liberties of
ordinary Americans have taken a tremendous blow….”
U.S. Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) -- the only libertarian in Congress
-- says: "Our forefathers would think it's time for a revolution.
This is why they revolted in the first place...They revolted against
much more mild oppression." And: “A danger also exists that the
United States is becoming a police state.”
* * *
Current threats to liberty -- and resources for more information and
Please note: We believe the information below is vital to the
understanding of the current civil liberties crisis. We have made no
attempt to be comprehensive, but instead to gather the most useful
information from a wide variety of sites and sources. Of course, some of
the resources below may also include materials on positions we do not
Please note: This page will be updated frequently with new action
steps, new information, resources and commentary, so please check back.
To stay informed about additions to this page, please subscribe to our
newsletter, The Liberator
THE CRISIS: The push is on greater than ever before for a diabolical
national ID “smart card” that will use “biometric identification
methods” like fingerprints, palm prints, iris scans, face scans or
even DNA samples to identify you. The card will be loaded with intimate
information about your health, your personal life, your finances. The
information will be stored in massive state and federal databases.
Make no mistake: a national ID card will be a major step towards the
end of liberty.
* “National ID Cards: 5 Reasons Why They Should Be Rejected.”
Short, persuasive talking points from the ACLU. Also on this page: links
to other ACLU features on national ID
* “National ID Cards Won’t Work: New Technologies, Same Bad Idea.”
Short, fact-filled Cato Institute demolition of the case for national
IDs. “If federal policymakers begin requiring that all Americans carry
a national ID card, it could constitute one of the most significant
increases in government power in our nation's history.”
* “Why Not Implant a Microchip?” …instead of a national ID. The
author of this Cato Institute short commentary is joking…but the feds
aren’t. It’s a natural progression: from mandatory Social Security
numbers to mandatory IDs to mandatory implanted microchips. Don’t say
you weren’t warned.
ID card won't stop terrorists, but will infringe on Americans'
liberty," says the Libertarian Party in a media release.
THE USA PATRIOT ACT
THE CRISIS: The “USA PATRIOT Act” threatens the most fundamental
liberties of all Americans.
If “truth in labeling” laws applied to political bills, the awful
post-Sept. 11 USA PATRIOT Act -- which is now law -- would be called “The
ANTI-Patriot Act.” It is nothing less than an all-out-assault on our
most basic liberties -- and will do little or nothing to protect
Americans from terrorist attacks.
The USA PATRIOT ACT is the centerpiece of the threat to American
liberties. It was passed with lies about its contents, and most
Congressmen who voted for it didn’t even have a chance to read it.
(Find this hard to believe? See the Resources below.)
It has made dangerous institutional changes to our very form of
government -- changes that must be fought and repealed.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) -- the only libertarian in Congress,
and a fearless champion of freedom -- says this bill is “undermining
the Constitution.” In fact, when asked by Insight, a leading
conservative magazine, what the Founding Fathers would think of this
law, Congressman Paul replied:
"Our forefathers would think it's time for a revolution. This is
why they revolted in the first place...They revolted against much more
Here are some of the things the Act allows, according to the Center
for Democracy and Technology (CDT -- see just below for more on them).
According to CDT, the Act:
· Allows government agents to
collect undefined new information about Web browsing and e-mail
without meaningful judicial review;
· Allows Internet Service
Providers, universities, network administrators to authorize
surveillance of "computer trespassers" without a judicial
· Overrides existing state
and federal privacy laws, allowing FBI to compel disclosure of any
kind of records, including sensitive medical, educational and library
borrowing records, upon the mere claim that they are connected with an
· Allows law enforcement
agencies to search homes and offices without notifying the owner for
days or weeks after, not only in terrorism cases, but in all cases -
the so-called "sneak and peek" authority;
· Allows FBI to share with
the CIA information collected in the name of a grand jury, thereby
giving the CIA the domestic subpoena powers it was never supposed to
· Allows FBI to conduct
wiretaps and secret searches in criminal cases using the lower
standards previously used only for the purpose of collecting foreign
(Source of the above bulleted points: CDT.)
Most of the new powers granted the government can be used against
American citizens in routine criminal investigations completely
unrelated to terrorism.
…..and that’s just a sample.
These new assaults on liberty will have to be challenged, fought, and
repealed if America is to remain free.
* "Police State." This astonishing and shocking article
from the respected conservative magazine Insight tells how the bill was
conceived, passed, and how it threatens American liberty. Good starting
place for info.
* “The USA PATRIOT Act: We Deserve Better” by Robert A. Levy,
Cato Institute. “If you think the Bill of Rights is just so much scrap
paper, and the separation of powers doctrine has outlived its
usefulness, then the USA PATRIOT Act is the right recipe to deal with
terrorists. On the other hand, if you are concerned about Fifth
Amendment protection of due process, and Fourth Amendment safeguards
against unreasonable searches and seizures, then you should be deeply
troubled by the looming sacrifice of civil liberties at the altar of
national security.” Details on some of the worst aspects of this
* ACLU Statement: “[T]he so-called USA Patriot Act contains a large
number of provisions that essentially destroy the check placed by the
courts on summary executive action.”
* ACLU chart showing how the USA PATRIOT Act changes American
surveillance laws for the worse
* How the USA PATRIOT Act affects online
analysis (with a useful short summary included) by the Electronic
USA Patriot Act: What's So Patriotic about Trampling on the Bill of
Rights?" Strong and lengthy -- but very readable -- analysis of
the Act by the Center for Constitutional Rights. "The
Administration's blatant power grab, coupled with the wide array of
anti-terrorism tools that the USA Patriot Act puts at its disposal,
portends a wholesale suspension of civil liberties that will reach far
beyond those who are involved in terrorist activities."
* In-depth and hard-hitting review of the USA PATRIOT Act prepared by
the Center for Democracy and Technology. The text of the entire bill is
reviewed, using underlining to show exactly how existing US law has been
modified by the Act. Other material at this page comments on those
changes and other startling pending and passed threats to civil
liberties. Very valuable resource.
THE CRISIS: Government is demanding broad new powers to spy on
citizens and otherwise invade their privacy. (See elsewhere on this page
for a section devoted to the threat of national ID.)
* “Facial Recognition Software.” Short ACLU article on the
dangers of this technology in the government’s hands. Links to related
material also at this site.
* "Watching You: Systematic Federal Surveillance of Ordinary
Americans." This Cato Institute briefing paper points out that,
even before Sept. 11, the lives of ordinary Americans already were
heavily monitored by the federal government. Linked through your Social
Security number, labor, medical, education and financial databases
empower the federal government to obtain a detailed portrait of any
person: the checks he writes, the types of causes he supports, and what
he says "privately" to his doctor.
* Cato Institute resources on civil liberties
THE CRISIS: Government is demanding -- and receiving -- alarming new
powers to monitor online activity of private citizens.
* "Eight Reasons the US Should Reject the International Cybercrime
Treaty.” ACLU talking points on this US-sponsored invasion of
cyberspace freedom. Good information in general on cyber-privacy.
THE CRISIS: Airlines must be secure, but not in a way that threatens
* “Airport Security: Increased Safety Need Not Come
at the Expense of Civil Liberties.” Short ACLU backgrounder on airport
security issues and concerns.
THE CRISIS: Some post-Sept. 11 legislation, and the mood of many in
government, threaten or intimidate people’s right to free speech.
* “Chilling Effects of Anti-Terrorism: The National Security Toll
on Freedom of Expression.” The right to free speech faces the
strongest challenges during times of crisis. This site by the Electronic
Frontier Foundation attempts to list sites that have been shut down by
the U.S. government, other governments, ISPs, or because of intimidation
because of controversial views. It lists other post-Sept.11 online “chilling
effects” as well.
THE CRISIS: Feeling a draft? Discussion of a draft is back on the
national agenda -- for the first time since Vietnam. The military
enslavement of young Americans is looming.
* “Fighting the War against Terrorism: Elite Forces, Yes;
Conscripts, No” by Doug Bandow. This outstanding post-Sept. 11 Cato
Institute policy analysis shows why a draft is unnecessary, destructive
and immoral. “Most important…conscription would undermine the very
individual liberty that makes our nation worth defending.”
*“Statement Opposing Military Conscription” delivered in the U.S.
House of Representatives March 20, 2002 by Congressman Ron Paul.
SEPARATION OF POWERS: WHO DECLARES WAR?
THE CRISIS: The executive branch of the government is threatening to
usurp Congress’s Constitutional role as the only branch of government
that can declare war. This is unconstitutional and threatens the system
of checks and balances the Framers intended to protect our freedoms.
* “War with Iraq: Who Decides?” Cato Institute short commentary.
“But where is it written that one man, the president, gets to decide
whether the United States goes to war with Iraq? Not in the
Constitution, certainly. The Constitution gives the war power to
Congress…. The suggestion that the president should have unilateral
power to make war was decisively rejected at the Constitutional
Convention of 1787.”
* “Declaring and Waging War: The U.S. Constitution” from Future
of Freedom Foundation. “When a U.S. president wages
what might otherwise be considered a just war, if he has failed to
secure a congressional declaration of war, he is waging an illegal war -
illegal from the standpoint of our own legal and governmental system.”
TERRORISM AND THE WAR ON
THE CRISIS: The War on Drugs -- which, since its beginnings in the
early 20th century, has ALWAYS been fought with lies -- is getting new
impetus from a new multi-million dollar White House / Drug Czar ad campaign linking casual
drug use to support for terrorism. In truth, of course, the only reason
terrorists sell drugs is because the Drug War creates a massive black
market that rewards them for doing so. It’s the Drug War itself that’s
to blame. But millions of Americans don’t know that -- and are falling
for this diabolical new tactic to fan the flames of the Drug War that
has already severely damaged our Bill of Rights.
* “The Bush Administration’s
'Drugs = Terrorism' Fraud.”
Future of Freedom Foundation article debunks the Drug Warrior’s
preposterous new propaganda. “U.S. drug laws have done far more to
empower terrorists than Bush & Co. would like to admit. Drug laws
are far more effective at putting profit into narcotics than law
enforcement is at taking the profit out.”
and the Drug War." Future of Freedom Foundation. "Let's be
blunt: every U.S. drug czar has been an unwitting financier for
THE CRISIS: The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have spawned new
anti-immigration sentiment in some corners. Increasing calls are being
heard for restrictions on the freedom of immigrants and restrictions on
immigration. Many of these proposals would affect not only immigrants
but non-immigrants as well.
* “Don't Blame Immigrants for Terrorism.” Excellent short Cato
Institute commentary. “Immigrants come here to realize the American
dream; terrorists come to destroy it. We should not allow America's
tradition of welcoming immigrants to become yet another casualty of
* “The Immigration Scam.” 2000 Libertarian Party presidential
candidate Harry Browne explains in this short article how proposed
immigration controls will be used against American citizens, why they
won’t protect us, and why they aren’t needed anyway.
Uses Sept. 11 Terrorism to Advance Anti-Immigration Agenda." Another
excellent short Cato Institute commentary. “To honor all
victims of Sept. 11, the U.S. government must do more to apprehend
terrorists while keeping our door open to peaceful, hard-working
immigrants who come here to build a better life.”
Immigration Rights and the USA Patriot Act (scroll down to
Section C). Midway through the Center for
Constitutional Rights’ multi-part, hard-hitting analysis of the USA
PATRIOT Act is a discussion of how the Act will affect the rights of US
immigrants. (It’s on their page 4.) “The
USA PATRIOT Act deprives immigrants of their due process and First
* “Keep the Borders Open” by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom
Foundation. Fine short defense of why immigration is essential to
America. Good introduction to this concept. “The
moral question is: Why shouldn’t a person be free to cross a border in
search of work to sustain his life, to open a business, to tour, or
simply because he wants to? Or to put it another way, under what moral
authority does any government interfere with the exercise of these
THREATS TO OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
THE CRISIS: New laws and new proposals threaten our Bill of Rights
guarantees of fair trials.
Troubled by Reports that Potentially Secret Military Tribunals Could
Place Life or Death of Defendant Solely in Hands of President. “The American Civil Liberties Union today said (April 2002) it
was deeply troubled by media reports that the military tribunals ordered
last year by the President would allow the executive branch sole
authority over the imposition of the death penalty and could easily be
held in secret….”
* Military tribunals and civilian
justice. Lengthy ACLU analysis (in
the form of a letter) with much information on indefinite detention, use
of secret evidence, and other important issues
* “Tribunals, Trials and Tribulations” by Robert A. Levy, Cato
Institute. First published in the Wall Street Journal. “I also have
great sympathy for the Constitution, which safeguards the personal
liberties that sustain a free society, like the right to due process.
The Bill of Rights, after all, is more than scrap paper. And it applies
to "persons," not just U.S. citizens.”
Law Once Again Undermines Role of Judiciary. ACLU statement: “[T]he so-called USA Patriot Act contains a large
number of provisions that essentially destroy the check placed by the
courts on summary executive action.”
* “Secret Trials Endanger Security” by Harry Browne, 2000
Libertarian Party presidential candidate. Excellent short article. “Why
are the Bill of Rights, open trials, the rule of law and the traditional
American rules of evidence important?”
* “Justice for Terrorists.” Loads of good information at this
Cato Institute round-up site.
ACTIVISM AND ACTIVIST
Please don't keep the information on this page to yourself!
Share it with others. Some suggestions:
*Put the URL for this page, along
with a short sentence about it, as your signature in your email. Sample:
"The civil liberties crisis in America: you can do something about
* Link to this page from your Web
* Speak up about these issues at
your job, with your family and friends -- wherever else you
interact with people.
* Write letters to the editor making
one or more of the points on this page.
*Call radio talk shows and make one
or more of the points on this page.
* Take part in chat rooms, newsgroups, mailing list discussions, and
other forums where you can make a significant impact.
* Write letters to your local, state, and national representatives.
They do listen!
HOW TO CONTACT LOCAL STATE AND NATIONAL POLITICIANS AND
about Congressional delegations, state and local officials, and media
resources in your area with the help of the OMB Watch web site. Their
database contains state-by-state contact information, email and offline.
To access this information, click the “Take Action” tab at the upper
right of their home page.
FULL TEXTS OF
BILLS: “Thomas” is the U.S. government's online
legislative resources. It was named after Thomas Jefferson, who would be
horrified by almost everything the federal government is doing. Full
texts of pending, passed and expired bills available here.* * *
FREE EMAIL SOURCES FOR BREAKING NEWS ON THE CIVIL LIBERTIES CRISIS
There are many good sources of information on this. Here are some of
THE LIBERATOR ONLINE: To keep up-to-date with changes to this page
and to learn more about how to communicate the ideas of liberty in the
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newsletter, The Liberator Online. It’s the world’s largest
libertarian email newsletter, with many features of interest to anyone
concerned with liberty. Subscribe
NEWS DAILY: This free daily email newsletter brings links to
news stories of interest to anyone concerned about liberty. This is an
excellent resource and their links to coverage of the terrorist attack
and its aftermath are very useful. It is published by Free-Market.Net,
of which the Advocates is a partner. We recommend it and rely upon it as
one important source for information for this page.
Anti-war.com is an indispensable source of information on
non-interventionist foreign policy issues and related matters. Be
warned: some of their material is controversial and very opinionated.
They offer a wealth of material from many perspectives. They have a free
daily email newsletter.
DAILY DISPATCH: This free daily email newsletter brings you the
latest doings and writings from this leading libertarian think tank,
including commentary on the civil liberties crisis.
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