Peace activists demand justice, not war

BALTIMORE, Md. – “Baltimore wants justice, not war” was the cry of several dozen members of the Baltimore Antiwar Coalition, who gathered outside the Garmatz Federal Court House here Nov. 6.

The demonstration was held to protest the continued bombing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and the new USA Patriot Act, which nullifies many basic human rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Throughout the day, the coalition gathered signatures, for a petition decrying the loss of civil liberties, to be presented to Sen. Paul Sarbanes’ Baltimore office.

The dangerous provisions of the Patriot Act include the following:

• The federal government now has the power to enter a citizen’s home in secret, with no previous notice.

• The Justice Department now has the power to spy on U.S. citizens and legal aliens with no foreign intelligence connections.

• A federal district judge may issue a permit allowing the government to read a U.S. citizen’s e-mail if the attorney general deems it “relevant.”

• A judge may allow the FBI to wiretap a U.S. citizen without a criminal investigation or probable cause.

• Upon certification of a judge, the federal government now has access to any education records of both U.S. citizens and foreign students studying here. This same provision provides $16.8 million for a database program to track the 600,000 or so foreign students of any nationality enrolled in U.S. colleges.

• The federal government can secretly access the credit reports of U.S. citizens and others, and credit reporting agencies are forbidden by law from informing the consumer.

• These vast amounts of increased information will be controlled, analyzed and collected by the CIA, thereby involving them in a much more expansive domestic spying role.

• The Patriot Act greatly broadens the term “domestic terrorism” to include any demonstrations or political protest, no matter how peaceful, that the Justice Department declares to be an attempt to influence government policy through intimidation or coercion; this includes even giving financial support. The burden of proof will be on the individual that he or she had no knowledge or intent.

• Any foreign citizen, who the Justice Department declares to be suspected of “terrorist” activity, can be detained without a trial or hearing for six months. This is subject to review at the end of six months and every six months thereafter.

“We come in the American tradition of protest, like those who fought against unwarranted taxation at the Boston Tea Party, with the abolitionists who questioned slavery in the 19th century, and in the spirit of those who marched against the unjust Vietnam War in the 20th century,” David Walsh-Little, a civil rights lawyer, told the rally.

“For the present Bush administration to say that people are either with the policies of the present government or with the terrorists takes away the possibility of dialogue,” John Schneiderman, a political science major at John Hopkins University, said, “Dialogue is what every community needs in a time of crisis.”