Patriot Act Overrides Constitution Across America
Church-going sixteen-year-old N.C. boy held since Feb. 15 in Indiana on silly charges he’s a domestic terrorist
By Pat Shannon
In Granville County (Oxford), North Carolina, Annette Lundeby has been living a nightmare. Three months ago her 16-year-old son Ashton was dragged away in handcuffs by federal and state law officers. He is charged with making a telephone bomb threat from his home on the night of Feb. 15, even though the family was at a church function that night and can prove it. Ashton now sits in a juvenile facility in South Bend, Indiana. His mother has had little access to him and says that there is nothing she can do.
“We have no rights under the Patriot Act to even defend them, because the Patriot Act basically supersedes the Constitution,” she said. “It wasn’t intended to drag your barely 16-year-old, 120-pound son out in the middle of the night on a charge that we can’t even defend.”
Passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., the Patriot Act allows federal agents to investigate suspected cases of terrorism swiftly to “better protect the country.” In part, it gives the federal government wide latitude in searching telephone records, e-mails and other records.
Around 10 p.m. on March 5th, Lundeby said, heavily armed FBI agents, along with three local law enforcement officers, stormed her home looking for her son. They handcuffed him and presented her with a search warrant.
Lundeby told the officers that someone had hacked into her son’s IP address and was using it to make crank calls connected through the Internet, making it look like the calls had originated from her home when they had not. She was ignored. Agents seized a computer, a cell phone, a gaming console, routers, bank statements and school records, according to federal search warrants.
“There were no bomb-making materials, not even a blasting cap, not even a wire,” Lundeby said. “The Patriot Act has stripped my son of his right to due process.”
Critics of the statute say it threatens the most basic of liberties. “They’re saying that ‘We feel this individual is a terrorist or an enemy combatant against the United States, and we’re going to suspend all of those due process rights because this person is an enemy of the United States,’” said Dan Boyce, a defense attorney and former U.S. attorney not connected to the case.
Mrs. Lundeby said that a date for her son’s hearing has been booked for late May, but she is not hopeful it will happen then, as it has already been changed several times. Because a federal judge issued a gag order in the case, the U.S. attorney in Indiana cannot comment on its status, nor can the FBI. The North Carolina Highway Patrol did confirm that officers assisted with the FBI operation at the Lundeby home on March 5th.
“Never in my worst nightmare did I ever think that it would be my own government that I would have to protect my children from,” Lundeby said. “This is the United States, and I feel like I live in a Third World country now.”
In a bi-partisan effort, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jeff Flake, (R-Ariz.) last month introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would narrow subpoena power in a provision of the Patriot Act (called the National Security Letters) to curb what some consider to be abuse of power by federal law enforcement officers.
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Pat Shannan is the assistant editor of American Free Press. He is also the author of several videos and books including One in a Million: An IRS Travesty and I Rode With Tupper, detailing Shannan’s experiences with Tupper Saussy when the American dissident was on the run in the 1960s. Both are available from FIRST AMENDMENT BOOKS for $25 each.
(Issue # 21, May 25, 2009)