High on the Hill

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L i b e r t y W i r e


FOR RELEASE: Saturday, May 27, 2000

High on the Hill

'Congress wants to smoke the Fourth Amendment,' charges Harry Browne

Arlington, Virginia -- "Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, and Utah Congressman Chris Cannon appear to be using the Bill of Rights as rolling paper, so they can light up and satisfy their addiction for power over our lives," declared Harry Browne. Browne, a Libertarian candidate for President, spoke out today against H.R. 2987, the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act, sponsored by the Utah Republicans -- a bill that would trash your right to privacy, due process and free speech. The bill empowers the police to conduct secret searches of your property, often referred to as "black bag" searches. It creates a new type of search warrant that allows police to enter your home or place of business, conduct a search, seize or copy files from your computer, and not tell you about it until months later.

Another provision of the bill allows government agents to seize your property without giving you a list of the seized items. Currently, the law requires such an inventory -- including computer files -- to be given to the property owner immediately.

"This an outright assault on the Fourth Amendment," said Browne. "But if you're out to demonstrate that you're a law-and-order politician like Hatch and Cannon, that pesky amendment is a real drag. But that's exactly what the Constitution is supposed to be -- a drag on government power."

Browne pointed out that the bill would also create new federal drug offenses. "There are only three federal crimes listed in the Constitution: treason, piracy and counterfeiting," he said. "So the 9th and 10th Amendments are being free-based. Apparently, law and order congressmen like Hatch and Cannon have smoked our Bill of Rights till they are high with power."

"Even if this bill goes down to defeat, another will come along just like it. In fact, one already has," said Browne pointing to a bankruptcy reform bill, HR 833, that included similar provisions, passed both houses earlier this year and is currently being considered in a conference committee.

"While opposing this bill is Constitutionally correct, that won't restore our lost and stolen rights," lamented Browne. "The only way to stop the politicians from further injections of unconstitutional authority is to end the insane war on drugs. That's the Constitutional thing to do."


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Following is a release from the Libertarian Party about the same legislation. -AA

2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web: http://www.LP.org
For release: May 25, 2000
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
E-Mail: 76214.3676@Compuserve.com

Warning: This press release could be
illegal under new anti-drug legislation

WASHINGTON, DC -- Politicians are so desperate to win the War on Drugs that they're willing to outlaw this press release, the Libertarian Party said today.

"Warning: This press release contains illegal information," said the party's National Director Steve Dasbach. "You could be prosecuted -- and sentenced to a 10-year prison term -- for reading it on the air, publishing it in a newspaper, or linking it to your website."

The reason? Congress appears poised to pass legislation that would make it a crime to publicize information about illegal drugs. The bill, HR. 2987, would make it a federal felony to advertise, link a website to, or even publish certain kinds of factual data about drugs, drug culture, or drug paraphernalia.

"The War on Drugs has been turned into a War on Words," said Dasbach. "This bill would make certain kinds of Constitutionally protected speech illegal, and give politicians the power to put Americans in prison for writing, posting, or advocating information the government doesn't like."

The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act, sponsored by senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) -- passed the Senate unanimously last November. It is now being considered by two House committees.

Supporters say the bill is designed to fight so-called "meth labs," which produce a dangerous form of amphetamine.

But the bill would go far beyond that, said Dasbach -- and would create several new "communication crimes," including:

* Illegal linking (three years in prison): It would be illegal for any "communications facility to post, publicize, transmit, publish, link to, broadcast or otherwise advertise" -- or even provide "indirect advertising for" -- Internet sites that sell drug paraphernalia.

"For example, this press release would be illegal if we mention that www.bongs.com has information about buying marijuana pipes," said Dasbach. "It could even be illegal if we provided this information so you could prevent your children from visiting that site."

* Illegal teaching (10 years in prison). It would be illegal to tell someone how to produce an illegal drug, such as growing marijuana.

"It would be a felony to mention that you can purchase a book about growing marijuana at www.marijuana-hemp.com," said Dasbach. "It could even be a felony if you intended to grow marijuana in a state where medical marijuana is legal, and you planned to grow it for bona fide medical reasons."

The bill is a dangerous expansion of government power, said Dasbach, because although politicians now have the power to outlaw certain activities, the First Amendment prohibits them from outlawing speech about those illegal activities.

"Politicians have already made possession of drugs a crime -- now they want to make possession of press releases, books, newspapers, magazines, and websites about drugs a crime," he said. "If this bill passes, the War on Drugs will have escalated into a full fledged War on the First Amendment."

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