July 05, 2004 – Civil liberties post 9/11

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Special Documentary

On this special Independence Day edition of Free Speech Radio News – we bring you three segments – each focusing on the limits imposed on the independence of individuals following the attacks on September 11. We begin with an overview of the relationship between personal freedom and national security as altered by the USA Patriot Act. We will then look at one of the effects of the Patriot Act – repression of public dissent — and the movement to counter limitations placed on political protests. And finally, we study the impact the US led war on terror has had on the independence of Australians and the increased prevalence of racism toward Arab and Muslim communities there. Please stay tuned.

The USA Patriot Act
The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 explicitly confronted governmental tyranny. While declaring it the duty of the people to throw off such a government, Congress wrote that the new government should lay its foundation on “such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” We take a look at this historic constitutional balance between security and liberty as an area in which we have seen major shifts since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Namely, through the implementation of the Patriot Act. Jenny Johnson has our story.

Suppression of Public Protest
Everyone knows that the Republican National Convention is coming to New York City. But contrary to cheery ads featuring former New York mayor Edward Koch, preparation for the convention is not all peace and goodwill. Up to 10,000 police will be deployed in the vicinity of Madison Square Garden during the Convention. And according to a recent economic analysis, revenues from the Convention will be $184 million at most, much lower the $260 million claimed by the city’s administration —and that’s not even factoring in security costs. Last week, New York City officials announced that some sections of 7th and 8th Avenues will be closed while the convention is in session and serve as a protest pit for demonstrators. This as the New York City Council passed Resolution 389-A, which calls on Mayor Bloomberg to protect First Amendment Rights by ensuring that protesters have sufficient access to the streets. And people who want to voice their opposition to Republican policies and the nomination of George Bush are using multiple strategies, in courtrooms and in the streets, to protect protest. Nell Geiser has more.

Civil Liberties in Australia
The US-led war on terror has had a profound effect on civil liberties in Australia, and has resulted in the country’s conservative government passing a raft of anti-terrorism legislation since 2001, which have substantially eroded rights. Worse, still, civil liberties groups claim that a rising tide of racism against Australia’s Arab and Muslim communities has been one of the side effects of the government’s efforts to crack down on terrorism. As Erica Vowles reports, the latest legislation to pass through parliament – the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2004 – has these communities concerned that the situation will only get worse.


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