Tamera Jo Freeman was reportedly one of at least 208 passengers who have been convicted of felonies under the Patriot Act — a highly controversial, unconstitutional law forced upon the American public after 9/11 — often for behavior involving drunkenness, raised voices and profanity, allowing airlines to misuse the law according to some experts.
In 2007, Freeman was on a Frontier Airlines flight to Denver with her two children when they began fighting over the window shade, and ended up spilling a Bloody Mary into her lap. She spanked each child with three swats on the thigh. It was a small incident that ended up having ridiculously enormous ramifications for Freeman and her children.
When a flight attendant confronted Freeman, she responded by throwing what remained of a can of tomato juice from her drink on the floor and uttering a few profanities.
The incident on that Frontier flight ended up resulting in Freeman’s arrest and conviction for a federal felony defined as an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act. She spent three months in jail before pleading guilty in exchange for being released on probation.
As noted by the Los Angeles Times, in most cases of those convicted under the amended law — as in Freeman’s case — there was no evidence that the passengers had attempted to hijack the airplane or physically attack any of the flight crew. Many cases simply involved raised voices, foul language and drunken behavior.
Airlines Misusing Law to Criminalize Incidents
Use of the law by Airlines and their employees to criminalize incidents that never were a threat to public safety, let alone an act of terrorism, has run amok according to some security experts.
One of the 208 cases involves a couple who were arrested — an FBI affidavit said the couple was “embracing, kissing and acting in a manner that made other passengers uncomfortable” — after arguing with a flight attendant who claimed they were engaged in “overt sexual activity.”
New York security consultant Charles Slepian says “we have gone completely berserk on this issue. These are not threats to national security or threats to aircraft, but we use that as an excuse.”
Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, defended the prosecutions, claiming they have helped improve airline security, adding that the department has only pursued prosecution “when the facts and circumstances of a particular case warrant such action.”
Nathan Sales, a law professor at George Mason University who helped write the egregious legislation known as the Patriot Act when he served in the Justice Department, says the intent of the Patriot Act provisions was to put terrorists in violation of the law before they could execute an actual takeover. Even Sales has acknowledged that the practical application of the law has strayed in the fervor of ‘protecting the skies.’
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Within two months of the 9/11 and anthrax attacks, the Patriot Act was illicitly enacted, allegedly to improve the nation’s defenses against international terrorism. In reality, the Patriot Act violates the U.S. Constitution and has done nothing but destroy Democracy, rights and freedoms.
The Patriot Act included two key provisions: One defining disruptive behavior as a terrorist act and one broadening the existing criminal law to make any attempt or conspiracy to interfere with a flight crew a felony — allowing flight personnel to act against a ‘suspicious passenger’ even if they hadn’t begun an actual assault — giving airlines enormous latitude in determining what poses as a threat or disruption, but there is no clear standard. There is no tolerance for irrational behavior linked to mental illness either.
Tamera Freeman’s case ended up costing her her children. A court-appointed attorney told Freeman that a plea deal would be the fastest way for her to see her children who were taken to Hawaii and put into foster care. Probation ended up requiring her to stay in Oklahoma City and prohibited her from flying. In the meantime, legal proceedings have begun in Hawaii to allow her children’s foster parents to adopt them. Court records show that Freeman has been denied permission to attend custody hearings in Maui over the past six months.
Freeman’s case shows the ridiculousness unleashed on the public by the U.S. Government courtesy of the Patriot Act. More information can be found in the Los Angeles Times article.
Political Dissent Charged As Terrorism
Eight youths who sought to organize protests and civil disobedience against the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Minnesota last August were charged with terrorism, which makes it appear as if political opposition in the U.S. is being criminalized.
It may be the first case of its kind. American citizens were arrested and charged as terrorists for no other reason than planning to protest and obstruct a political event. Their charges — like the ones mentioned above — amounted to nothing more than a baseless frame-up carried out in the name of unconstitutional “anti-terrorist” legislation.
As noted by WSWS.org, anti-terrorism laws like the Patriot Act have never been about protecting the American people from terrorism. This ‘legislation’ was put in place to create the ‘legal framework’ for suppressing the basic Constitutional and Democratic rights of the population.
The eight youths were arrested and charged with the felony “conspiracy to commit riot in the second degree in furtherance of terrorism.” If convicted, the eight youths could face five years in prison plus a $10,000 fine. It’s yet another example of the absurdity that has stemmed from the ‘War on Terror.’
The incidents listed above are just a few examples of draconian legislation designed to ‘protect America’ that does the opposite. Some photographers have been arrested for taking pictures due to the Patriot Act. There are many more examples of misleading “terrorism” arrests out there.
The USA Today reported that the departments of Defense, State and Health Services have not met legal requirements meant to protect Americans’ civil liberties and a review of Congressional filings shows that the board that was supposed to report regularly to Congress on the safeguards they use to make sure their programs don’t undermine the public’s rights and privacy, as well as enforce the mandates, has laid dormant since 2007. No surprise there.
It’s time to end the unconstitutional legislation that has plaqued America since the Bush administration’s complicity in the attacks of 9/11 and it’s time to restore the rule of law. The absurdity of the Patriot Act and the ‘War on Terror’ needs to end and those who designed and enabled it need to be held accountable.