Ashcroft's Latest Assault on Liberty

I'll tell you what's terrifying me these days -- our so-called anti-terrorism officials! These people never met a liberty that they wouldn't bludgeon with a nightstick.

"Jumping Johnnie" Ashcroft, the loopiest and spookiest attorney general of all time (and that's really saying something), never lets up. He's the father of the now-infamous USA PATRIOT Act, a 342-page "little shop of horrors" that gave federal agents sweeping new powers to spy, enter, intercept, tap, search, seize, detain, incarcerate, and prosecute -- mostly on executive whim.

It was put before Congress only hours after the September 11 terrorist attack on our country, so there was a political urgency to "do something" -- and most members didn't even read the thing before it was rammed into law. Indeed, a frothing-at-the-mouth Ashcroft demanded that it be passed within three days with no amendments and pratically no debate.

However, enough members detected a sickening stench of repression wafting from down inside this bill that they were able to add a "sunset" amendment requiring some of the nastier surveillance provisions to expire within four years. They were right to do this, for it turns out that the PATRIOT Act is thoroughly un-patriotic, a catch-all law that gives government autocrats unbridled power to spy not just on foreign terrorists, but also on ordinary citizens who have no connections whatsoever to terrorists, but whose politics might not be popular with the reigning authorities.

Because of the sunset amendment, we would be rid of some of the act's most dangerous intrusions in just a couple more years... except that the Bushites are now maneuvering in Congress to repeal the sunset provision -- a legislative sneak attack that would make all of the PATRIOT Act's intrusive, anti-democratic powers permanent.

To the barricades, patriots! To help beat back Ahscroft's assault on America's liberties, call Sen. Russ Feingold's office: 202-224-5323.

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