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illustration by Jessica Del Greco Land-Mine Legislation
by Claire Wolfe

Since I wrote it in March or April 1997, "Land-Mine Legislation" has taken on a life of its own. Much to my surprise, it pops up on the Internet every few months and circulates madly, drawing even more comment than it did when it was first published.

One unintended result of being "the article that wouldn't die" is that "Land-Mine" has been given numerous titles: "Pearl Harbor Legislation," "Stealth Legislation," "Amerika, Amerika," and "Legacy of the Republican Revolution," among others. I hope this hasn't caused too much confusion.

I first wrote "Land-Mine" in a rush, just as key bits of legislation were being uncovered by activists and researchers. Because of my haste and the difficulty of confirming some information, the early, and most widely circulated, version contains several errors of detail. I've been trying to correct them by supplying an explanatory footnote to people posting the article, but I finally gave in and re-wrote the offending sections at the request of Joseph Farah of World Net Daily. The copy here was updated July 14, 1998. I was very tempted to add descriptions of a few more stealth laws that have been uncovered since 1997, but I thought I'd spare you... --CW

LAND-MINE LEGISLATION

Let me run by you a brief list of items that are "the law" in America today. As you read, consider what all these have in common.

  1. A national database of employed people[Note A]
  2. Dozens of pages of new "health care crimes," for which the penalty is (among other things) seizure of assets from both doctors and patients [Note B]
  3. Confiscation of assets from any American who establishes foreign citizenship [Note C]
  4. The largest gun confiscation act in U.S. history -- which is also an unconstitutional ex post facto law and the first law ever to remove people's constitutional rights for committing a misdemeanor [Note D]
  5. A law banning guns in ill-defined school zones; random roadblocks may be used for enforcement; gun-bearing residents may become federal criminals just by stepping outside their doors or getting into their vehicles. [Note D]
  6. Increased funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, an agency infamous for its brutality, dishonesty and ineptitude [Note D]
  7. A law enabling the executive branch to declare various groups "terrorist" -- without stating any reason and without the possibility of appeal. Once a group has been so declared, its mailing and membership lists must be turned over to the government. [Note E]
  8. A law authorizing secret trials with secret evidence for certain classes of people [Note E]
  9. A law requiring that all states begin issuing drivers licenses carrying Social Security numbers and "security features" (such as magnetically coded fingerprints and personal records) by October 1, 2000. "...A Federal agency may not accept for any identification-related purpose a drivers' license, or other comparable identification document, issued by a State, unless the license or document satisfies the [requirements set forth in this legislation]. In other words, drivers licenses and government non-driver IDs will still look different in all 50 states, but they will, in fact, be part of a national ID system. If your drivers license doesn't meet the federal standard -- no Social Security, no passport, no federal contracts, no "benefits." And just try cashing a check at your federally regulated bank.[Note F]
  10. And my personal favorite -- a national database, now being constructed, that will contain every exchange and observation that takes place in your doctor's office. This includes records of your prescriptions, your hemorrhoids and your mental illness. It also includes -- by law -- any statements you make ("Doc, I'm worried my kid may be on drugs," "Doc, I've been so stressed out lately I feel about ready to go postal.") and any observations your doctor makes about your mental or physical condition, whether accurate or not, whether made with your knowledge or not. For the time being, there will be zero (count 'em, zero) privacy safeguards on this data. And, of course, the information will, by law, be filed under your "unique identifying number." But don't worry, your government will protect you with some undefined "privacy standards" in a few years. Oh, guess what? If the proposed rule implementing this legislation (issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in mid 1998) is adopted, you won't be able to get health care -- even privately paid health care -- without your Citizen ID Number.[Note G]

All of the above items are the law of the land. Federal law. What else do they have in common?

Well, when I ask this question to audiences, I usually get the answer, "They're all unconstitutional."

True.

My favorite answer came from an eloquent college student who blurted, "They all SUUUCK!"

Also true.

But the saddest and most telling answer is: They were all the product of the 104th Congress. Every one of the horrors above was imposed upon you by the Congress of the Republican Revolution -- the Congress that pledged to "get government off your back."

BURYING TIME BOMBS
All of the above became law by being buried in larger bills. In many cases, they were what my friend, gun-rights activist Charles Curley, calls "Pearl Harbor Legislation" -- sneak attacks upon individual liberty that were neither debated on the floor of Congress nor reported in the media.

For instance, three of the most horrific items (the health care database, asset confiscation for foreign residency and the 100 pages of health care crimes) were hidden in the Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (House version: HR 3103). You didn't hear about them at the time because the media was too busy celebrating this "moderate, compromise" bill that "simply" ensured that no American would ever lose insurance coverage due to a job change or a pre-existing condition.

Your legislator may not have heard about them, either. Because he or she didn't care enough to do so.

The fact is, most legislators don't even read the laws they inflict upon the public. They read the title of the bill (which may be something like "The Save the Sweet Widdle Babies from Gun Violence by Drooling Drug Fiends Act of 1984"). They read summaries, which are often prepared by the very agencies or groups pushing the bill. And they vote according to various deals or pressures.

It also sometimes happens that the most horrible provisions are sneaked into bills during conference committee negotiations, after both House and Senate have voted on their separate versions of the bills. The conference committee process is supposed simply to reconcile differences between two versions of a bill. But power brokers use it for purposes of their own, adding what they wish. Then members of the House and Senate vote on the final, unified version of the bill, often in a great rush, and often without even having the amended text available for review.

I have even heard (though I cannot verify) that stealth provisions are written into some bills after all the voting has taken place. Someone with a hidden agenda simply edits them in to suit his or her own purposes. So these time bombs become "law" without ever having been voted on by anybody. And who's to know? If congresspeople don't even read legislation before they vote on it, why would they bother reading it afterward? Are power brokers capable of such chicanery? Do we even need to ask? Is the computer system in which bills are stored vulnerable to tampering by people within or outside of Congress? We certainly should ask.

Whether your legislators were ignorant of the infamy they were perpetrating, or whether they knew, one thing is absolutely certain: The Constitution, your legislator's oath to it, and your inalienable rights (which preceded the Constitution) never entered into anyone's consideration.

Ironically, you may recall that one of the early pledges of Newt Gingrich and Company was to stop these stealth attacks. Very early in the 104th Congress, the Republican leadership declared that, henceforth, all bills would deal *only* with the subject matter named in the title of the bill. When, at the beginning of the first session of the 104th, pro-gun Republicans attempted to attach a repeal of the "assault weapons" ban to another bill, House leaders dismissed their amendment as not being "germane."

After that self-righteous and successful attempt to prevent pro-freedom stealth legislation, Congresspeople turned right around and got back to the dirty old business of practicing all the anti-freedom stealth they were capable of.

STEALTH ATTACKS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT
Three other items on my list (ATF funding, gun confiscation and school zone roadblocks) were also buried in a big bill -- HR 3610, the budget appropriation passed near the end of the second session of the 104th Congress.

No legislator can claim to have been unaware of these three because they were brought to public attention by gun-rights groups and hotly debated in both Congress and the media. Yet some *90 percent* of all congresspeople voted for them -- including many who claim to be ardent protectors of the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

Why?

Well, in the case of my wrapped-in-the-flag, allegedly pro-gun, Republican congressperson: "Bill Clinton made me do it!"

Okay, I paraphrase. What she actually said was more like, "It was part of a budget appropriations package. The public got mad at us for shutting the government down in 1995. If we hadn't voted for this budget bill, they might have elected a Democratic legislature in 1996 -- and you wouldn't want THAT, would you?"

Oh heavens, no! I'd much rather be enslaved by people who spell their name with an R than people who spell their name with a D. Makes all the difference in the world!

HOW SNEAK ATTACKS ARE JUSTIFIED
The Republicans are fond of claiming that Bill Clinton "forced" them to pass certain legislation by threatening to veto anything they sent to the White House that didn't meet his specs.

In other cases (as with the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill), they proudly proclaim their misdeeds in the name of bipartisanship -- while carefully forgetting to mention the true nature of what they're doing.

In still others, they trumpet their triumph over the evil Democrats and claim the mantle of limited government while sticking it to us and to the Constitution. The national database of workers was in the welfare reform bill they "forced" Clinton to accept. The requirement for SS numbers and ominous "security" devices on drivers licenses originated in their very own Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996, HR 2202.

Another common trick, called to my attention by Redmon Barbry, publisher of the electronic magazine, *Fratricide*, is to hide duplicate or near-duplicate provisions in several bills. Then, when the Supreme Court declares Section A of Law Z to be unconstitutional, its kissing cousin, Section B of Law Y, remains to rule us.

Sometimes this particular form of trickery is done even more brazenly; when the Supreme Court, in its *Lopez* decision, declared federal-level school zone gun bans unconstitutional because Congress demonstrated no jurisdiction, Congress brassily changed a few words. They claimed that school zones fell under the heading of "interstate commerce." Then they sneaked the provision into HR 3610, where it became "law" once again.

When angry voters upbraid congresspeople about some Big Brotherish horror they've inflicted upon the country by stealth, they claim lack of knowledge, lack of time, party pressure, public pressure, or they justify themselves by claiming that the rest of the bill was "good."

The simple fact is that, regardless of what reasons legislators may claim, the U.S. Congress has passed more Big Brother legislation in the last two years -- more laws to enable tracking, spying and controlling -- than any Democratic congress ever passed. And they have done it, in large part, in secret.

Redmon Barbry put it best: "We the people have the right to expect our elected representatives to read, comprehend and master the bills they vote on....If this means Congress passes only 50 bills per session instead of 5,000, so be it. As far as I am concerned, whoever subverts this process is committing treason."

By whatever means the deed is done, there is no acceptable excuse for voting against the Constitution, voting for tyranny. And I would add to Redmon's comments: Those who do read the bills, then knowingly vote to ravage our liberties, are doubly guilty. But when do the treason trials begin?

BILLS AS WINDOW DRESSING FOR AN UGLY AGENDA
The truth is that these tiny, buried provisions are often the *real* intent of the law, and that the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pages that surround them are sometimes nothing more than elaborate window dressing. These tiny time bombs are placed there at the behest of federal police agencies or other power groups whose agenda is not clearly visible to us. And their impact is felt long after the outward intent of the bill has been forgotten.

Civil forfeiture -- now one of the plagues of the nation -- was first introduced in the 1970s as one of those buried, almost unnoticed provisions of a larger law.

One wonders why on earth a "health care bill" carried a provision to confiscate the assets of people who become frightened or discouraged enough to leave the country. (In fact, the entire bill was an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code. Go figure.)

I think we all realize by now that that database of employed people will still be around enabling government to track our locations (and heaven knows what else about us, as the database is enhanced and expanded) long after the touted benefits of "welfare reform" have failed to materialize.

And most grimly of all, our drivers licenses will be our de-facto national ID card long after immigrants have ceased to want to come to this Land of the Once Free.

CONTROL REIGNS
It matters not one whit whether the people controlling you call themselves R's or D's, liberals or conservatives, socialists or even (I hate to admit it) libertarians. It doesn't matter whether they vote for these horrors because they're not paying attention or because they actually like such things.

What matters is that the pace of totalitarianism is increasing. And it is coming closer to our daily lives all the time. Once your state passes the enabling legislation (under threat of losing "federal welfare dollars"), it is YOUR name and Social Security number that will be entered in that employee database the moment you go to work for a new employer. It is YOU who will be unable to cash a check, board an airplane, get a passport or be allowed any dealings with any government agency if you refuse to give your SS number to the drivers license bureau. It is YOU who will be endangered by driving "illegally" if you refuse to submit to Big Brother's licensing procedures.

It is YOU whose psoriasis, manic depression or prostate troubles will soon be the reading matter of any bureaucrat with a computer. It is YOU who could be declared a member of a "foreign terrorist" organization just because you bought a book or concert tickets from some group the government doesn't like. It is YOU who could lose your home, bank account and reputation because you made a mistake on a health insurance form. Finally, when you become truly desperate for freedom, it is YOU whose assets will be seized if you try to flee this increasingly insane country.

As Ayn Rand said in Atlas Shrugged, "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

It's time to drop any pretense: We are no longer law-abiding citizens. We have lost our law-abiding status. There are simply too many laws to abide.

And because of increasingly draconian penalties and electronic tracking mechanisms, our "lawbreaking" places us and our families in greater jeopardy every day.

STOPPING RUNAWAY GOVERNMENT
The question is: What are we going to do about it?

Write a nice, polite letter to your congressperson? Hey, if you think that'll help, I've got a bridge you might be interested in buying. (And it isn't your "bridge to the future," either.)

Vote "better people" into office? Oh yeah, that's what we thought we were doing in 1994.

Work to fight one bad bill or another? Okay. What will you do about the 10 or 20 or 100 equally horrible bills that will be passed behind your back while you were fighting that little battle? And let's say you defeat a nightmare bill this year. What are you going to do when they sneak it back in, at the very last minute, in some "omnibus legislation" next year? And what about the horrors you don't even learn about until two or three years after they become law?

Should you try fighting these laws in the courts? Where do you find the resources? Where do you find a judge who doesn't have a vested interest in bigger, more powerful government? And again, for every one case decided in favor of freedom, what do you do about the 10, 20 or 100 in which the courts decide against the Bill of Rights?

Perhaps you'd consider trying to stop the onrush of these horrors with a constitutional amendment -- maybe one that bans "omnibus" bills, requires that every law meet a constitutional test or requires all congresspeople to sign statements that they've read and understood every aspect of every bill on which they vote. Good luck! Good luck , first, on getting such an amendment passed. Then good luck getting our Constitution-scorning "leaders" to obey it.

It is true that liberty requires eternal vigilance, and that part of that vigilance has been, traditionally, keeping a watchful eye on laws and on lawbreaking lawmakers. But given the current pace of law spewing and unconstitutional regulation-writing, you could watch, plead and struggle "within the system" 24 hours a day for your entire life and end up infinitely less free than when you began. Why throw your life away on a futile effort?

Face it. If "working within the system" could halt tyranny, the tyrants would outlaw it. Why do you think they encourage you to vote, to write letters, to talk to them in public forums? It's to divert your energies. To keep you tame.

"The system" as it presently exists is nothing but a rat maze. You run around thinking you're getting somewhere. Your masters occasionally reward you with a little pellet that encourages you to believe you're accomplishing something. And in the meantime, you are as much their property and their pawn as if you were a slave. In the effort of fighting them on their terms and with their authorized and approved tools, you have given your life's energy to them as surely as if you were toiling in their cotton fields, under the lash of their overseer.

The only way we're going to get off this road to Hell is if we jump off. If we, personally, as individuals, refuse to cooperate with evil. How we do that is up to each of us. I can't decide for you, nor you for me. (Unlike congresspeople, who think they can decide for everybody.)

But this totalitarian runaway truck is never going to stop unless we stop it, in any way we can. Stopping it might include any number of things: tax resistance; public civil disobedience; wide-scale, silent non-cooperation; highly noisy non-cooperation; boycotts; secession efforts; monkey-wrenching; computer hacking; dirty tricks against government agents; public shunning of employees of abusive government agencies; alternative, self-sufficient communities that provide their own medical care and utilities.

There are thousands of avenues to take, and this is something most of us still need to give more thought to before we can build an effective resistance. We will each choose the courses that are right for our own circumstances, personalities and beliefs.

Whatever we do, though, we must remember that we are all, already, outlaws. Not one of us can be certain of getting through a single day without violating some law or regulation we've never even heard of. We are all guilty in the eyes of today's "law." If someone in power chooses to target us, we can all, already, be prosecuted for *something*.

And I'm sure you know that your claims of "good intentions" won't protect you, as the similar claims of politicians protect them. Politicians are above the law. YOU are under it. Crushed under it.

When you look at it that way, we have little left to lose by breaking laws *creatively and purposefully*. Yes, some of us will suffer horrible consequences for our lawbreaking. It is very risky to actively resist unbridled power. It is especially risky to go public with resistance (unless hundreds of thousands publicly join us), and it becomes riskier the closer we get to tyranny. For that reason, among many others, I would never recommend any particular course of action to anyone -- and I hope you'll think twice before taking "advice" from anybody about things that could jeopardize your life or well-being.

But if we don't resist in the best ways we know how -- and if a good number of us don't resist loudly and publicly -- all of us will suffer the much worse consequence of living under total oppression.

And whatever courses of action we choose, we must remember that this legislative "revolution" against We the People will not be stopped by politeness. It will not be stopped by requests. It will not be stopped by "working within a system" governed by those who regard us as nothing but cattle. It will not be stopped by pleading for justice from those who will resort to any degree of trickery or violence to rule us.

It will not be stopped unless we are willing to risk our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honors to stop it.

I think of the words of Winston Churchill: "If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."


NOTES on the laws listed above:

  1. (Employee Database) Welfare Reform Bill, HR 3734; became public law 104-193 on 8/22/96; see section 453A.
  2. (Healthcare Crimes) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, HR 3103; became public law 104-191 on 8/21/96.
  3. #3 - (Asset Confiscation for Citizenship Change) Same law as #2; see sections 511-513.
  4. #4, 5 & 6 - (Anti-Gun Laws) Omnibus Appropriations Act, HR 3610; became public law 104-208 on 9/30/96.
  5. #7 & 8 - (Terrorism & Secret Trials) Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996; S 735; became public law 104-132 on 4/24/96; see all of Title III, specifically sections 302 and 219; also see all of Title IV, specifically sections 401, 501, 502 and 503.
  6. #9 - (De-facto National ID Card) Began life in the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996, sections 111, 118, 119, 127 and 133; was eventually folded into the Omnibus Appropriations Act, HR 3610 (which was itself formerly called the Defense Appropriations Act -- but we wouldn't want to confuse anyone, here, would we?); became public law 104-208 on 9/30/96; see sections 656 and 657 among others.
  7. #10 - (Healthcare Database) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, HR 3103; became public law 104-191 on 8/21/96; see sections 262, 263 and 264, among others. The various provisions that make up the full horror of this database are scattered throughout the bill and may take hours to track down; this one is stealth legislation at its utmost sneakiest.


And one final, final note: Although I spent aggravating hours verifying the specifics of these bills (a task I swear I will never waste my life on again!), the original list of bills at the top of this article was NOT the result of extensive research. It was simply what came off the top of my head when I thought of Big Brotherish bills from the 104th Congress. For all I know, Congress has passed 10 times more of that sort of thing. In fact, the worst "law" in the list -- #9, the de-facto national ID card--just came to my attention as I was writing this essay, thanks to the enormous efforts of Jackie Juntti and Ed Lyon and others, who researched the law. Think of it: Thanks to congressional stealth tactics, we had the long-dreaded national ID card legislation for five months, without a whisper of discussion, before freedom activists began to find out about it. Makes you wonder what else might be lurking out there, doesn't it? And on that cheery note --


Claire Wolfe is featured on the Liberty Activists website and offers other essays and books there on topics of individual freedoms.

Website: http://www.billstclair.com/clairewolfe.com/


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