FIRST ASHCROFT GAVE
US THE PATRIOT ACT TO REMOVE ARE CIVIL LIBERTIES, HERE COMES THE VICTORY ACT TO REMOVE WHATS LEFT.
By Mick Youther
The nationwide protests against the Patriot Act must be having an effect. Attorney General Ashcroft had to climb down
from his ivory tower long enough to travel around the country, explaining again why we need to give up our privacy and freedoms.
I dont understand how thats going to help anything; but he assures us that it is a necessary sacrifice.
strange that after receiving numerous warnings that terrorists were planning to use airplanes in some kind of attack, Ashcroft
couldnt seem to think of anything to do about it, except to quit flying on commercial flights. Within days after the attacks,
though, he suddenly knew exactly what needed to be done, and has been working hard at it ever since.
I dont really
understand his plan, but it seems to be based on President Bushs explanation of why terrorists hate America:
hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each
Ashcroft must believe that if he eliminates all the freedoms the terrorist hate, they will
not attack us again. So far, its working. Why would a terrorist want to attack us, when they can sit back and watch our own
government destroy everything that made America what it is?
[Ashcroft] is enthusiastically using the patriot law to
let federal agents wiretap and access the e-mail of untold numbers of citizens and to listen in on conversations between lawyers
--Helen Thomas, Hearst Newspapers, 7/3/02
They have sneered at, ignored, or defied the courts
and legislatures that are designed to provide checks and balances on uninhibited executive power. They have eroded the precious
Bill of Rights protections of free speech, assembly, and association and its assurances of privacy, due process, equal protection,
legal counsel, and a fair trialpractically everything but the right to bear arms
--Alisa Solomon, The Village Voice,
"The Justice Department . . . seems to be running amok and out of control. . . . This agency right now
is the biggest threat to personal liberty in the country."
--Dick Armey (R-TX), commenting on the passage of the Patriot
"The executive branch seeks to uproot people's lives, outside the public eye and behind a closed
door, but when government begins closing doors, it selectively controls information that rightly belongs to the people. Selective
information is misinformation."
--Judge Damon J. Keith, ruling that the Bush administration acted unlawfully in holding
deportation hearings in secret, New York Times, 8/27/02
Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in
secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous.
--William Proxmire, Former US senator
from Wisconsin, famous for his "Golden Fleece" awards highlighting government waste
"Good intentions will always
be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people
against the dangers of good intentions."
--Daniel Webster (1782-1852), American politician
There are not
enough jails, not enough policemen, not enough courts to enforce a law not supported by the people.
--Hubert H. Humphrey
Unless the mass [of people] retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these
will be perverted to their own oppression.
--Thomas Jefferson, 1812
The protections of the Fourth Amendment
are clear. The right to protection from unlawful searches is an indivisible American value. Two hundred years of court decisions
have stood in defense of this fundamental right. The state's interest in effective crime-fighting should never vitiate the
citizens' Bill of Rights.
--Senator John Ashcroft, 1997 Yes, the same John Ashcroft -- before he was anointed as the
all-powerful right hand of GodUhI mean Bush.
So, what happened? When did the protections of the Fourth Amendment
become unclear? What happened to the 200 years of court decisions upholding these rights? When did the states interests become
more important than the Bill of Rights?
We have known since January, that Ashcroft was planning a sequel to his Patriot
Act. Hes calling this one the Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act of 2003, or the VICTORY
ACT -- no kidding. It is designed to eliminate what little privacy we have left.
If Congress fails to stop the
Bush Administrations accumulation of power, we will soon be living in a police state. Wont our troops be surprised when they
return from Iraq and find that all the things they have been fighting for have been taken away?
Youther is an Instructor in the Department of Physiology at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL.