Son of Patriot — coming soon from Ashcroft Productions Inc
Anita Ramasastry’s analysis of the next piece of Orwellian legislation in the Ashcroft dogpile.
“Soon after the terrorist acts of September 11, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, which conferred broad new powers upon the federal government. Now John Ashcroft and his scribes at the Justice Department have been working secretly to create new, 120-page draft legislation that, if enacted, would expand greatly upon these already sweeping powers.
This daring sequel to the USA Patriot Act is known internally as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act. It is also nicknamed Patriot II (the name by which I’ll refer to it here), or Son of Patriot. On February 7 of this year, a January 9 draft of Patriot II was revealed to the public – but not by the government. It was made public only through a leak.
Perhaps the Bush Administration is looking to repeat its experience with the original USA Patriot Act. Amidst the emotional turmoil after September 11, the Administration introduced the Act and got it enacted in a matter of weeks. The Senate Judiciary Committee had only a brief, one-and-a-half-hour hearing on the Act, in which Attorney General Ashcroft testified but took no questions. In the House, meanwhile, there was no testimony from opponents of the bill.
After September 11, there was at least some rationale for this expedited consideration. Now, however, there is far less exigency. If the introduction of Patriot II in Congress coincides with the Iraq war, it may well be because the Administration has planned it that way, to take advantage of circumstances to ram the bill through both Houses quickly.
Even if Patriot II does end up being introduced in wartime, citizens and their representatives should fight this legislation tooth and nail, for it threatens to take even more of our liberties away. It is a wholesale assault on privacy, free speech, and freedom of information…”