May 30, 2003

Editorial

Americans Losing Their Precious Freedoms and Rights!

On September 11, 2001 terrorists attacked the United States and crashed two passenger airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City and another one into the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. On October 26, 2001, one month later, President George W. Bush presented, the United States Justice Departments response to the attacks, a 342-page document, cobbled together in a week, to the Republican controlled Senate and Congress the so call USA Patriot Act passed with little or no debate. In a matter of days, the Republican control administration effectively changed the Constitution, which has been serving our country well for over 300 years, without ever going to the individual States to approve the change to our Constitution!

Americans, we are led to believe, were willing to give up their Constitution out of fear and for a sense of security? The Republican establishment has illegally wrought Constitutional changes without going through the established processes embodied in our Constitution.

As an example of what has been taken away from the people of America are the Rights contained in the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution.

The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

(The California Anti-Terrorism Information Center has been gathering and analyzing information on activists and protest activity, in the state. This information is being used to compile dossiers on a wide range of organizations.)

Fourth Amendment. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated....

(Tell that to the folks who had their computers removed from their homes and businesses all with out probable cause and oath of affirmation. Or how about the Patriot permitting ‘wire taps, surveillances, searches, seizures all without Court approval! How about the so-call Patriot act permitting their secret agents to force libraries to tell them what books you are checking out?)

Fifth Amendment. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

(Under the Patriot Act, administered by the new Homeland Security Department individuals can now be jailed and held for and indefinite detention of both citizens and non-citizens without formal charges. The definition of terrorists is so broad that no one is immune from its net.)

Sixth Amendment. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

(Check out the John Walker Lindh case. Its scary what the American Gestapo is doing to our citizens under cover of the illegal Patriots Act.

In regards to suspected terrorist be held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it has been revealed that the United States will hold military tribunals. Tribunals where the defendants will be prosecuted by the military and defended by the military, and the jury will be comprised of military personnel. And if/when found guilt it has been reported that they could be executed there as well.)

Through the Patriot Act, in conjunction with the Homeland Security Department, the checks and balances provide by the United States Constitution have been usurped! President George W. Bush has plunged this country into war, debt, and has brought about the deaths of 170 American servicemen! All of this was carried out with only the support of the Republican members of the Congress. The Democratic members had no say. Iraq has been and is an action of the Republican President, a Republican administration, and a Republican controlled Senate and Congress. What we have is a unilateral action by one party. The rest of the nation had no say. Our Constitution has been defiled and made irrelevant by the Republican Party.

Hispanics, as well a all other citizens of this country, struggled in the courts and streets to bring compliance with these rights and freedoms as past administrations and overzealous authorities attempted to deny such Constitutional guarantees in the past such as: The right to assemble peacefully without fear of surveillance and threat of authority. It was back in the 60’s and 70’s that the Hispanic community was harassed by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney General, and the police forces of this country as they attempted to deny them their right to assemble peacefully.

The Present Administration is attempting to take away our Constitutional Rights, to a fair and speedy trial, to be innocent until found guilty by Court of Law. Can we ever forget the Sleepy Lagoon trials? And now once again these rights are being taken away. Recently, at the Super Bowl, Hispanics were rounded up, jailed and deported under the Patriot Act. Our Constitutional Rights were totally ignored and disregarded by the zealots in the current administration.

As has been stated at various times in the pages of La Prensa San Diego: “ What makes America so special and different than all other countries is its Constitution, its Amendments to the Constitution, and its Bill of Rights. With out those safeguards, America will quickly become a single party nation ruled over by power-hungry zealots.

How long are the people of these United States going to stand by and see their precious Founding Documents be subverted by zealots of the Extreme Right wing of the Republican Party?

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