of San Francisco
Violations: a dramatic presentation
on the loss of civil liberties in the US.

The following script has been used at a number of public readings by the Civil Liberties Committee. We've found it works best to use six different voices (male and female, foreign born and native born, with as much regional variation as possible). However, it can easily be adapted for fewer voices.


Voice 1: Violations: A reading on the USA Patriot Act and the Bill of Rights.


Voice 2: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or 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.

Voice 1: The USA Patriot Act of 2001 and other edicts and orders

Voice 3: Allow the government to…
" label you a terrorist if you belong to an activist group,
" monitor your e-mails and watch what internet sites you visit
" monitor what books you purchase and borrow from the library,
" more easily refuse requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

Voice 4: Further proposals would repeal current judicial limits, which prohibit police spying on religious and political activity.

Voice 1: First Amendment Violations

Voice 5: FBI agents raided the home of a Saudi graduate student in Idaho who had helped a group in Michigan set up a website for the study of Islam. The website linked to another organization the U.S. government listed as a terrorist. Sami al-Hussayen, the graduate student, was charged under the Patriot Act with providing "expert guidance and assistance" to groups deemed terrorist. After more than a year in jail, a jury found him innocent of these charges. A retired CIA operative who testified for the defense said, "I am embarrassed and ashamed that our government has kept a decent and innocent man in jail for a very long time."

Voice 6: Before the 2004 Republican Convention in New York City, FBI agents preemptively arrested activists they considered troublemakers, involving them in court appearances, which prevented their participation in the protests. During the Convention, NYC police made sweeping arrests which did not distinguish between lawful and unlawful behavior and held demonstrators beyond the legal time limit, apparently in an effort to keep them off the streets.


Voice 2: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Voice 1: The USA Patriot Act of 2001 and other edicts and orders

Voice 3: Allow the government to...

" conduct secret searches or surveillance without obtaining a warrant or showing probable cause (known as "sneak and peek"),
" designate any foreign or domestic group that has engaged in violent activity as a terrorist organization,
" conduct surveillance of religious and political groups without evidence of wrongdoing,
" search your home without notifying you,
" listen in on conversations between prisoners and their attorneys without a warrant,
" authorize secret wiretaps,
" take away your property without a hearing if the government declares you or your group is planning an act of terrorism.

Voice 4: Under further proposals, the government would no longer have to disclose the identity of anyone, even an American citizen, detained in connection with a terror investigation; Americans could be extradited, searched, and wiretapped at the behest of foreign nations; and the government could obtain credit, medical, and library records without a warrant.

Voice 1: Fourth Amendment Violations

Voice 5: As early as 1995, Federal agents wiretapped the privileged attorney-client interviews of defense attorney Lynne Stewart and her client, incarcerated Sheik Abdel-Rahman. Immediately after the passing of the Patriot Act, Lynne and the interpreter and paralegal were indicted for "materially aiding terrorism" and are currently on trial in Manhattan.

Voice 6: A rider to the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2004 permits the FBI to obtain records from financial institutions without appearing before a judge, demonstrating probable cause, or reporting to Congress how often they have done so. The definition of "financial institutions" includes not only banks, but also stockbrokers, car dealerships, casinos, credit card companies, insurance agencies, jewelers, airlines, the U.S. Post Office, and many other businesses.

Voice 5: Under the CAPPS-2 program, airlines and airline reservations companies are compelled to hand over all passenger records to U.S. officials for screening against large data bases. The information is used to classify passengers into red, yellow, and green risk categories.


Voice 2: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Voice 1: The USA Patriot Act and other edicts and orders…

Voice 3: Allow the government to…
" establish trials by military tribunal, at the President's discretion, for noncitizens,
" certify immigrants as risks without due process of law.

Voice 4: Under further proposals, lawful immigrants would be stripped of the right to a fair deportation hearing, and federal courts would not be allowed to review immigration rulings. The U.S. government would be authorized to hold suspects indefinitely.

Voice 1: Fifth Amendment Violations

Voice 5: Special registration of Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians, begun in 2002, resulted in detention of nearly thirteen thousand men. Detainees were held without bail for an average of three months and waited up to three weeks to contact an attorney. None was charged with terrorist activity or connections. Most have since been deported for minor visa violations, often caused by bureaucratic delays on the part of the Immigration Service.

Voice 6: The Treasury Department froze assets of several Muslim charitable organizations amid unsubstantiated charges they support terrorism. Donations to Muslim charities and mosques subsequently dropped dramatically, as donors feared they would be linked to terrorist activities.

Voice 4: Dr. Sami al-Arian, a tenured professor of computer science at the University of South Florida and a Palestinian activist, was arrested in February of 2003 and charged with masterminding a terrorist support group for 20 years. Despite his status as a pretrial detainee, al-Arian has been held in an 8 x 12 maximum security cell in a federal prison and is denied many of the privileges given to convicted felons. Amnesty International has protested his treatment.


Voice 2: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Voice 1: The USA Patriot Act and other edicts and orders…

Voice 3: …allow the government to
" give the attorney general broad powers to certify immigrants as risks,
" designate any citizen or noncitizen as an enemy combatant
" and place them in military custody with indefinite detention.

Voice 4: Under new proposals, the government would no longer have to disclose the identity of anyone, even an American citizen, detained in connection with a terror investigation.

Voice 1: Sixth Amendment Violations

Voice 5: Yasar Esam Hamdi, an American citizen captured in Afghanistan was held for almost three years in solitary confinement. When the Supreme Court ruled on the illegality of holding a citizen as an enemy combatant and without counsel, he was released only on condition that he renounce his citizenship, never sue the U.S. government, and never travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, Iraq, or Syria.

Voice 6: 585 men from Arab, Muslim, and South Asian countries continue to be held incommunicado at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay. The Bush administration says they are not covered by the Geneva Convention, which would entitle them to refuse interrogation, they are "enemy combatants." Lawyers representing 63 of these detainees state the U.S. government continues to stonewall requests for factual bases for these detentions.

Voice 4: Some are being questioned up to 16 hours a day, with basic comforts withheld if they refuse to cooperate. Nor are they entitled to fundamental American legal rights, because they are imprisoned on Cuban soil, although recent U.S. court decisions appear to be correcting this. As of the middle of March, 2004, 12 prisoners had been transferred elsewhere and 119 sent home, among them three Afghan children held for almost two years who were between the ages of 13 and 15 on release. No apology or compensation was offered.

Voice 5: Until the middle of 2003, thirty-two attempted suicides were reported. The military authorities then reclassified attempted suicide as "manipulative self-injurious behavior," of which there have been 40 incidents in the last six months. More than a fifth of the inmates are on antidepressants, some involuntarily. The grim reality of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is causing mounting outrage by defense lawyers, legal scholars, and human rights activists around the world.

Voice 1: And that's just the tip of the iceberg, folks.

Civil Liberties Committee
San Francisco Gray Panthers
Revised 10-21-04

San Francisco Gray Panthers after reading "Violations" to Sacramento Gray Panthers