Folks, we need to stand up and fight.  The Senate “unanimously passed” S. 1794.  The House of Representatives passed H.R. 347, 388 to 3.  Obama subsequently signed it into law.  Our elected officials did not read this act, want control of our speech or they did not bother to fight for our Constitution.  This law is in fact a direct violation of the First Amendment.

Please leave a comment and give us your insight on what our strategy needs to be to overturn this bill. 

The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law … 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.

I do not often include the full wording of a bill in my writing but had to for this article.

Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011
Whoever—
‘‘(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so;
‘‘(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
‘‘(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or
‘‘(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds; or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
‘‘(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is—
‘‘(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if—
‘‘(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm;
or
‘‘(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and
‘‘(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.
‘‘(c) In this section— H. R. 347—2
‘‘(1) the term ‘restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area—
‘‘(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds;
‘‘(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will
be temporarily visiting; or
‘‘(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and
‘‘(2) the term ‘other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined
such protection.’’.

The subtlety of this new law is masterful if your intent is to move the United States toward fascism!  What government officials are “spinning” by as a minor revision to a law enacted in 1971 (Section 1752 of Title 18 of the United States Code) and added to by Bill Clinton in 1998, actually restricts our right to free speech.  The original law was the beginning of a slippery slope.  However, since this law was enacted, it’s scope has grown exponentially; both to where it is applied and to whom it is applied.

The original law restricted citizens from “willfully and knowingly” protesting in certain venues.  This was a first shot at attacking our rights by restricting where and who we could protest against.  The first addition; changing where it is applied.  This significant change came in 1998 from Bill Clinton when he created “National Special Security Events” (NSSE) as part of Presidential Decision Directive 62.  NSSEs are events of national or international significance deemed by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be potential (not known or suspected, just could possibly be) targets for terrorism or other criminal activity. NSSE designation puts the United States Secret Service in charge of event security.  These events previously received no such treatment.  Clinton created a new class of special events explicitly under the authority of the U.S. Secret Service which allows any President to conceal events providing legal insulation for government officials against accountability or transparency by restricting protest from United States citizens.

Now comes H.R. 347, S. 1794 which includes two changes regarding to whom it is applied.  The first “who” involves those covered under the law.  The President can get virtually anyone covered under the clause:  ‘other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.’’  So, if Obama wants his campaign manager to have secret service coverage, a person could be arrested and prosecuted for holding an anti-Obama sign at the hotel where he is staying!   Bluntly, anyone that the president assigns secret service to is protected from protest!

The second modification purveyed in this law is a seemingly minor change in the wording from “willfully and knowingly” to “knowingly”.  Hmm.  No big deal, right?  The change seems inconsequential; one little word taken out.  But is it trivial?  Why would the government spend time, resources and money for nothing?

This change in the law is almost certainly in response to a case from 2004 when Brett Bursey was convicted of willfully and knowingly “entering and remaining in a posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area where the President was temporarily visiting.”  Bursey went to an airbase in South Carolina to protest the pending war with Iraq.  He entered and remained for 20 minutes in an area that the Secret Service had cordoned off, arguing for his right to stay there.  He was later charged under Section 1752 of title 18.  According to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, “ for a defendant to have acted willfully, he must merely have “acted with knowledge that his conduct was unlawful.”…we focus our discussion on whether Bursey “willfully” violated the Statute, because, generally, “[m]ore is required” with respect to conduct performed willfully than conduct performed knowingly… requires “more culpable” mens rea than a knowing violation.   As a general proposition, the statutory term “knowingly” requires the Government to prove only that the defendant had knowledge of the facts underlying the offense.”  Had Bursey not argued with the Secret Service for those 20 minutes, he would most likely not have been charged.  But his arguing proved that he “willfully” entered the restricted area.

With the new law in place, the government can more easily prosecute citizens.  A person can now be arrested, found guilty and be imprisoned for between 1 and 10 years for just walking into a “restricted” area, without even knowing that walking into the area is illegal.

It’s  hard to determine what future implications these changes to the law might bring.  However, law is precedent and interpretation.  We already have the National Defense Authorization Act authorizing military detention for U.S. citizens.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), explained, “the statement of authority to detain…does apply to American citizens, and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”  The law gives US President’s the power to arrest anyone from anywhere, including a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and confine him in a military prison without charge.  The President says he won’t use the power so trust him.  Hah!  Also this past year, Obama, who campaigned on “hope and change”, claimed the right to declare anyone a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer based on no more than presidential opinion, and order their assassination; no evidence required!

Our rights to assemble in protest or to be disruptive has been criminalized as a federal felony.  These changes do not kill free speech, but they are not trivial.  They are part of an incremental, methodical and persistent effort by the government to control “we the people” and to keep demonstrators away from political events.  These legal changes, when looked at together, look eerily comparable to pre-World-War-2 Germany.  German citizens were blinded while Hitler took over the nation with his fascist regime.  We must stop the thwarting of our Constitution in the name of protection.  Fight back!  What do we need to do?

Please leave a comment and give us your insight on what our strategy needs to be to overturn this bill. 

Help us keep America free!

joeotto

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