FC: Helen Thomas: Pres. Bush, John Ashcroft have gone too far

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Sat Nov 17 2001 - 10:12:16 PST

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    Nov. 16, 2001, 6:04PM
    Bush going too far curtailing our rights
       The Bush administration is using the national trauma and state of
       emergency resulting from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to trample the
       Bill of Rights.
       Operating on fears and apparently sensing that the American people may
       be willing to forego many of their civil liberties in the name of
       national security, Attorney General John Ashcroft, in particular, is
       riding roughshod over individual rights.
       Let's hope the people are not willing to set aside key protections of
       the Constitution in the current crisis. Once taken away, those basic
       rights may be hard, if not impossible, to restore.
       To win confirmation for his Cabinet post, the right-wing Ashcroft
       overcame strong opposition to his controversial appointment by
       promising to carry out the law of the land even if he disagreed with
       it. And he has certainly done that on the issue of legal abortion
       But he is now using the war in Afghanistan and on the home front to
       push his own ideology. An egregious example is his approval of a rule
       that permits the Justice Department to eavesdrop on the confidential
       conversations between lawyers and some clients in federal custody.
       These clients include suspects who have been detained but not charged
       with a crime whenever the government says such steps are necessary to
       prevent acts of terrorism.
       On Tuesday night, after declaring an "extraordinary emergency,"
       President Bush announced he had issued a directive claiming the power
       to order military trials for suspected international terrorists and
       their collaborators. That directive, which applies to non-U.S.
       citizens arrested here or abroad, allows him to take the highly
       unusual step of bypassing the nation's criminal justice system with
       its rules of evidence and constitutional guarantees. I think that
       would be a mistake.
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