Pearl Harbor Legislation

by Claire Wolfe

Let me run by you a brief list of items that are "the law" in America today. As you read, consider what all these have in common.
1. A national database of employed people
2. 100 pages of new "health care crimes," for which the penalty is (among other things) seizure of assets from both doctors and patients
3. Confiscation of assets from any American who establishes foreign citizenship
4. The largest gun confiscation act in U.S. history--which is also an unconstitutional "ex post facto" law and the first law ever to remove peopleís Constitutional rights for committing a misdemeanor
5. An act authorizing roadblocks to search for guns in ill-defined school zones
6. Increased funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, an agency infamous for its brutality, dishonesty and ineptitude
7. A law enabling the executive branch to declare various groups "terrorist" - without stating any reason and without the possibility of appeal. Once a group has been so declared, its mailing and membership lists must be turned over to the government.
8. A law authorizing secret trials with secret evidence for certain classes of people
9. A law requiring that all states begin issuing driverís licenses carrying Social Security numbers and "security features" (such as magnetically coded fingerprints and personal records) by October 1, 2000. By October 1, 2006, "Neither the Social Security Administration or the Passport Office or any other federal agency or any state or local government agency may accept for any evidentiary purpose a state driverís license or identification document in a form other than (one issued without a verified Social Security number and "security features")."
10. And my personal favorite--a national database, now being constructed, that will contain every exchange and observation that takes place in your doctorís office. This includes records of your prescriptions, your hemorrhoids and your mental illness. It also includes - by law - any statements you make ("Doc, Iím worried my kid may be on drugs," "Doc, Iíve been so stressed out lately I feel about ready to go postal)," and any observations your doctor makes about your mental or physical condition, whether accurate or not, whether made with your knowledge or not. For the time being, there will be zero (count Ďem, zero) privacy safeguards on this data. But donít worry, your government will protect you with some undefined "privacy standards" in a few years.
What do the above laws have in common?
All of the above items are the law of the land. Federal law. What else do they have in common?
Well, when I ask this question to audiences, I usually get the answer, "Theyíre all unconstitutional."
My favorite answer came from an eloquent college student who blurted, "They all SUUUCK!"
Also true.
But the saddest and most telling answer is: They were all the product of the 104th Congress. Every one of the horrors above was imposed upon you by the Congress of the Republican Revolution - the Congress that pledged to "get government off your back."
Burying time bombs
All of the above became law by being buried in larger bills. In many cases, they were what my friend, gun-rights activist Charles Curley, calls "Pearl Harbor Legislation" - sneak attacks upon individual liberty that were neither debated on the floor of Congress nor reported in the media.
For instance, three of the most horrific items (the health care database, asset confiscation for foreign residency and the 100 pages of health care crimes) were hidden in the Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HR 3103). You didnít hear about them at the time because the media was too busy celebrating this "moderate, compromise" bill that "simply" ensured that no American would ever lose insurance coverage due to a job change or a pre-existing condition.
Your legislator may not have heard about them, either. Because he or she didnít care enough to do so.
The fact is, most legislators donít even read the laws they inflict upon the public. They read the title of the bill (which may be something like "The Save the Sweet Widdle Babies from Gun Violence by Drooling Drug Fiends Act of 1984"). They read summaries, which are often prepared by the very agencies or groups pushing the bill. And they vote according to various deals or pressures.
It also sometimes happens that the most horrible provisions are sneaked into bills during conference committee negotiations, after both House and Senate have voted on their separate versions of the bills. The conference committee process is supposed simply to reconcile differences between two versions of a bill. But power brokers use it for purposes of their own, adding what they wish.
Then members of the House and Senate vote on the final, unified version of the bill, often in a great rush, and often without even having the amended text available for review.
I have even heard (though I cannot verify) that stealth provisions are written into some bills after all the voting has taken place. Someone with a hidden agenda simply edits them in to suit his or her own purposes. So these time bombs become "law" without ever having been voted on by anybody. And whoís to know? If congresspeople donít even read legislation before they vote on it, why would they bother reading it afterward? Are power brokers capable of such chicanery? Do we even need to ask? Is the computer system in which bills are stored vulnerable to tampering by people within or outside of Congress? We certainly should ask.
Whether your legislators were ignorant of the infamy they were perpetrating, or whether they knew, one thing is absolutely certain: The Constitution, your legislatorís oath to it, and your inalienable rights (which preceded the Constitution) never entered into anyoneís consideration.
Ironically, you may recall that one of the early pledges of Newt Gingrich and Company was to stop these stealth attacks. Very early in the 104th Congress, the Republican leadership declared that, henceforth, all bills would deal "only" with the subject matter named in the title of the bill. When, at the beginning of the first session of the 104th, pro-gun Republicans attempted to attach a repeal of the "assault weapons" ban to another bill, House leaders dismissed their amendment as not being "germane."
After that self-righteous and successful attempt to prevent pro-freedom stealth legislation, Congresspeople turned right around and got back to the dirty old business of practicing all the anti-freedom stealth they were capable of.
Stealth attacks in broad daylight
Three other items on my list (ATF funding, gun confiscation and school zone roadblocks) were also buried in a big bill - HR 3610, the budget appropriation passed near the end of the second session of the 104th Congress.
No legislator can claim to have been unaware of these three because they were brought to public attention by gun-rights groups and hotly debated in both Congress and the media. Yet some "90 percent" of all congresspeople voted for them - including many who claim to be ardent protectors of the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
Well, in the case of my wrapped-in-the-flag, allegedly pro-gun, Republican congressperson: "Bill Clinton made me do it!"
Okay, I paraphrase. What she actually said was more like, "It was part of a budget appropriations package. The public got mad at us for shutting the government down in 1994. If we hadnít voted for this budget bill, they might have elected a Democratic legislature in 1996 - and you wouldnít want THAT, would you?"
Oh heavens, no! Iíd much rather be enslaved by people who spell their name with an R than people who spell their name with a D. Makes all the difference in the world!
How sneak attacks are justified
The Republicans are fond of claiming that Bill Clinton "forced" them to pass certain legislation by threatening to veto anything they sent to the White House that didnít meet his specs.
In other cases (as with the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill), they proudly proclaim their misdeeds in the name of bipartisanship - while carefully forgetting to mention the true nature of what theyíre doing.
In still others, they trumpet their triumph over the evil Democrats and claim the mantle of limited government while sticking it to us and to the Constitution. The national database of workers was in the welfare reform bill they "forced" Clinton to accept. The requirement for SS numbers and ominous "security" devices on drivers licenses originated in their very own Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996, HR 2202.
Another common trick, called to my attention by Redmon Barbry, publisher of the electronic magazine, Fratricide, is to hide duplicate or near-duplicate provisions in several bills. Then, when the Supreme Court declares Section A of Law Z to be unconstitutional, its kissing cousin, Section B of Law Y, remains to rule us.
Sometimes this particular form of trickery is done even more brazenly; when the Supreme Court, in its "Lopez" decision, declared federal-level school zone gun bans unconstitutional because Congress demonstrated no jurisdiction, Congress brassily changed a few words. They claimed that school zones fell under the heading of "interstate commerce." Then they sneaked the provision into HR 3610, where it became "law" once again.
When angry voters upbraid congresspeople about some Big Brotherish horror theyíve inflicted upon the country by stealth, they claim lack of knowledge, lack of time, party pressure, public pressure, or they justify themselves by claiming that the rest of the bill was "good."
The simple fact is that, regardless of what reasons legislators may claim, the U.S. Congress has passed more Big Brother legislation in the last two years - more laws to enable tracking, spying and controlling - than any Democratic congress ever passed. And they have done it, in large part, in secret.
Redmon Barbry put it best: "We the people have the right to expect our elected representatives to read, comprehend and master the bills they vote on....If this means Congress passes only 50 bills per session instead of 5,000, so be it. As far as I am concerned, whoever subverts this process is committing treason."
By whatever means the deed it is done, there is no acceptable excuse for voting against the Constitution, voting for tyranny. And I would add to Redmonís comments: Those who do read the bills, then knowingly vote to ravage our liberties, are doubly guilty.
But when do the treason trials begin?

NOTES on the laws listed above: 1. (employee database) Welfare Reform Bill, HR 3734; became public law 104-193 on 8/22/96; see section 453A. 2. (health care crimes) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, HR 3103; became public law 104-191 on 8/21/96. 3. (asset confiscation for citizenship change) Same law as #2; see sections 511-513. 4, 5 and 6. (anti-gun laws) Omnibus Appropriations Act, HR 3610; became public law 104-208 on 9/30/96. 7 and 8. (terrorism & secret trials) Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996; S 735; became public law 104-132 on 4/24/96; see all of Title III, specifically sections 302 and 219; also see all of Title IV, specifically sections 401, 501, 502 and 503. 9. (de-facto national ID card) Began life in the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996, sections 111, 118, 119, 127 and 133; was eventually folded into the Omnibus Appropriations Act, HR 3610 (which was itself formerly called the Defense Appropriations Act - but we wouldnít want to confuse anyone, here, would we?); became public law 104-208 on 9/30/96; see sections 656 and 657 among others. 10. (health care database) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, HR 3103; became public law 104-191 on 8/21/96; see sections 262, 263 and 264, among others. The various provisions that make up the full horror of this database are scattered throughout the bill and may take hours to track down; this one is stealth legislation at its utmost sneakiest.

© 1997 Claire Wolfe
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