Granny Rant
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
::: The Ashcroft Roadshow :::

Ashcroft and his Nazi-Like Patriot Act in Deep Doodie

More and more Americans of every persuasion (and with a few minutes to actually read the Patriot Act) have joined in a grass roots movement to resist the broad expansion of police powers under the banner of security.

....has picked up so much support in the American heartland it threatens not only repeal of the legislation but political damage to President Bush as well.

Try as he might, Mr. Ashcroft can no longer dismiss opponents of the USA Patriot Act as a small but whiny band of liberals. Some of the nation's top conservative groups as well as a huge majority of the Republican-led House of Representatives -- in other words, the Bush base -- are now leading the drive to eliminate portions of the law that allow secret spying on anyone.

Our panic stricken attorney general is out beating the bushes, trying to sell the Patriot Act as vital to the war on terrorism while a Justice Department Web site seeks to dispel "myths" put out by critics.

This spin control performance is offensive both in its message and its tactics. Mr. Ashcroft, who bullied Congress into granting law enforcement agencies sweeping new powers while the nation was still traumatized by the Sept. 11 attacks, is once again using fear to get his way.

Mr. Ashcroft doesn't address the concerns that have inspired three states and 154 local governments, including Baltimore, to pass resolutions in protest of the Patriot Act. Among these is the power granted to police to secretly obtain records of phone calls, Internet use, library visits and other personal information without probable cause of criminal activity.

Lawmakers also worry about "sneak and peek" searches of homes and property
, about which targets learn much later.

And people .... here is another startling fact:

Mr. Ashcroft speaks only to selected audiences not open to the public. He wants U.S. attorneys in each state to take questions in town meetings, trying to use prosecutors as lobbyists.

The Ashcroft road show seems likely to backfire, and actually fuel the drive for a thorough review by Congress of the Patriot Act to weed out its onerous parts. Mr. Ashcroft should be weeded out as well.

Praise The Lord ... we may be delivered from Evil after all..... Cause ... lookie below for MORE on Ashcroft's Unpatriotic Acts.

When the Patriot Act raced through Congress after Sept. 11, critics warned that it was an unprecedented expansion of the government's right to spy on ordinary Americans. The more people have learned about the law, the greater the calls have been for overhauling it. One section that has produced particular outrage is the authorization of "sneak and peek" searches, in which the government secretly searches people's homes and delays telling them about the search. The House last month voted 309 to 118 for a Republican-sponsored measure to block the use of federal funds for such searches.

Opponents of the act are pushing for changes to make it harder for the government to gain access to sensitive data, including medical and library records, and records concerning purchases or rental of books, music or videos. Come on now people, does this really sound like the America we know and love? Other changes concern requirements to make wire taps more specific, narrow the definition of terrorism to prevent its use against domestic protesters, such as environmentalists and anti-abortion activists, and restrictions on information collected about citizens on the Internet or in e-mails.

One member of Congress, Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat, has charged that Mr. Ashcroft's lobbying campaign, in which United States attorneys have been asked to participate, may violate the law prohibiting members of the executive branch from engaging in grass-roots lobbying for or against Congressional legislation. Legal or not, the campaign seeks to shore up a deeply flawed piece of legislation. The Patriot Act is the Bush administration's attempt to make the country safe on the cheap. Rather than do the hard work of coming up with effective port security and air cargo checks, and other programs targeted at actual threats, the administration has taken aim at civil liberties.

The administration is clearly worried, as opposition to the excesses of the Patriot Act grows across the country and the political spectrum. Instead of spin-doctoring the problem, Mr. Ashcroft should work with the law's critics to develop a law that respects Americans' fundamental rights.

Well folks, I bet John Ashcroft is madder than a toad hopping on a griddle!

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