By Janet Phelan
Twenty-one years ago, on October 26, 2001, the US Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act. In the wake of terror following the attacks of September 11 and the anthrax attacks, it was repeatedly alleged that many congressmen did not even read the Act, which is over 130 pages in length.
In the intervening years, considerable concern has been voiced about the surveillance authorized by the Act, which allows such a wide net as to capture communications of most, if not all, Americans. The ACLU declared that “The result is unchecked government power to rifle through individuals’ financial records, medical histories, Internet usage, bookstore purchases, library usage, travel patterns, or any other activity that leaves a record.”
Numerous attempts have been made to nullify these authorities, without success. So when Section 215 lapsed in 2020, a collective sigh of relief was heard. No longer did the US government maintain the “right” to maintain mass surveillance of Americans’ phone records, among other problematic capabilities.
Strangely, however, following the lapsing of Section 215, nothing seems to have changed. It may be, as some pundits declare, that other legalistic surveillance authorities simply took the place of the now-defunct Section 215. Or it could be that no one dares hold the spy agencies accountable at this juncture.
A flurry of letters from congressmen and senators asking some hard questions about under what authority the surveillance continues on did not produce answers. It appears that this issue has simply disappeared from the political landscape.
With all the attention given to the surveillance authorities granted by the USA PATRIOT Act—which is actually an acronym for” Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”—we might think that this Act was merely a tool for enhancing Big Brother’s reach and eyesight. However, there is more to the USA PATRIOT Act than its surveillance authorizations. Little attention has been given to the implications of Section 817, codified as Title 18 Section 175b of the US code. This section, titled “The Expansion of the Biological Weapons Statute,” has implications for present and future pandemics.
The world is beginning to recover—or so it seems—from the Covid scare, which swept the globe from 2020 to the present. Questions emerged very quickly as to the genesis of Covid-19—did someone eat a sick bat at a marketplace in Wuhan, China, thereby launching a global bat virus pandemic? Or did the gain-of-function (that means, in plain English, weaponization) research going on at the Wuhan lab, just meters away from the marketplace, somehow leak out, sickening and killing millions? Or was it something even more nefarious than a “lab leak”?
And what relevance does Section 817 have to this situation? Does this section portend a biological weapons attack (or two, or three), and if so, how?
In fact, Section 817 clearly gives a pass to those who may possess or transport biological weapons—AS LONG AS THE US GOVERNMENT AUTHORIZES THEM TO DO SO. The Section provides a list of “restricted persons”—who are not allowed to possess or transport biological agents and weapons—which is fairly comprehensive and includes all kinds of dishonorable and suspicious types, including terrorists, crazy people, convicted felons, the dishonorably discharged and more deplorables. After enumerating these folks as “restricted,” the Section rather incredibly goes ahead and gives them complete latitude to engage in biological weapons activities, as long as the US government tells them to. Here is the entire verbiage from 817. Pay special attention to the bold type:
SEC. 817. EXPANSION OF THE BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS STATUTE.
Chapter 10 of title 18, United States Code, is amended–
(1) in section 175–
(A) in subsection (b)–
(i) by striking “does not include” and
(ii) by inserting “other than” after
“system for”; and
(iii) by inserting “bona fide research”
(B) by redesignating subsection (b) as subsection
(C) by inserting after subsection (a) the following:
(b) Additional Offense.–Whoever knowingly possesses any
biological agent, toxin, or delivery system of a type or in a quantity
that, under the circumstances, is not reasonably justified by a
prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purpose,
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or
both. In this subsection, the terms “biological agent” and “toxin” do
not encompass any biological agent or toxin that is in its naturally
occurring environment, if the biological agent or toxin has not been
cultivated, collected, or otherwise extracted from its natural
(2) by inserting after section 175a the following:
[[Page 115 STAT. 386]]
SEC. 175b. POSSESSION BY RESTRICTED PERSONS.
(a) No restricted person described in subsection (b) shall ship or
transport interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting
commerce, any biological agent or toxin, or receive any biological agent
or toxin that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign
commerce, if the biological agent or toxin is listed as a select agent
in subsection (j) of section 72.6 of title 42, Code of Federal
Regulations, pursuant to section 511(d)(l) of the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-132), and is not
exempted under subsection (h) of such section 72.6, or appendix A of
part 72 of the Code of Regulations.
(b) In this section:
(1) The term “select agent” does not include any such
biological agent or toxin that is in its naturally-occurring
environment, if the biological agent or toxin has not been
(2) The term “restricted person” means an individual who–
(A) is under indictment for a crime punishable by
imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year;
(B) has been convicted in any court of a crime
punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year;
(C) is a fugitive from justice;
(D) is an unlawful user of any controlled
substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled
Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
(E) is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the
(F) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or
has been committed to any mental institution;
(G) is an alien (other than an alien lawfully
admitted for permanent residence) who is a national of a
country as to which the Secretary of State, pursuant to
section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979
(50 U.S.C. App. 2405(j)), section 620A of chapter 1 of
part M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C.
2371), or section 40(d) of chapter 3 of the Arms Export
Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2780(d)), has made a
determination (that remains in effect) that such country
has repeatedly provided support for acts of
international terrorism; or
(H) has been discharged from the Armed Services of
the United States under dishonorable conditions.
(3) The term “alien” has the same meaning as in section
1010(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C.
(4) The term “lawfully admitted for permanent residence”
has the same meaning as in section 101(a)(20) of the Immigration
and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(20)).
(c) Whoever knowingly violates this section shall be fined as
provided in this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both, but
the prohibition contained in this section shall not apply with respect
to any duly authorized United States governmental activity; and
(3) in the chapter analysis, by inserting after the item
relating to section 175a the following:
175b. Possession by restricted persons.
In addition, 817 opens the door to possession of biological agents or toxins that can be justified by a peaceful purpose, such as research. In other words, gain-of-function research, aka weaponization. And as long as you can maintain that the dangerous bioagent must be kept around in order to facilitate the creation of a countermeasure, you are home free.
Kind of gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, does it not? To know that the criminally insane can dance down the street with a vial of anthrax between their teeth, if Mother Government deigns to allow them to.
And while we are at it, what about the “unrestricted persons”—those without the taint of terrorism or insanity? Do we also need the US’s blessing to become purveyors of biological weapons?
And why did the US fail its mandate to report this change in legislation to the international treaty organization known as the Biological Weapons Convention? Is it true, as alleged, that this piece of legislation constitutes a de facto violation of the treaty?
This reporter has repeatedly suggested that the pandemic was planned decades ago and that multiple laws were enacted and/or changed to facilitate a pandemic scenario. As Latin America gears up to celebrate “The Day of the Dead,” we in “Anglo-America” might take a moment to look back on the birth of the USA PATRIOT Act and consider if it might better be renamed “The Death of America” Act. Along with the destruction of our civil liberties and privacy rights, it may actually have struck a blow against our very health and viability.
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