Part TWO

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Posted by Jeff from ( on Sunday, June 16, 2002 at 9:47PM :

In Reply to: Cut-and-paste from the same site. Nice read..pt1 posted by Jeff from ( on Sunday, June 16, 2002 at 9:46PM :

From the beginning of his testimony, Ashcroft was defiant in the face of some skeptical Democratic Senators. He waved a copy of an Al Qaeda terrorism handbook in their faces as proof positive that no restriction of freedom was too severe when considering the enemy he seeks.

In his opening remarks, Ashcroft made the following statement: "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty; my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists - for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve."

There is no plainer way to say it - this is rank demagoguery of a strain so pure that it has not been heard in the political dialogue of this nation since the dark days when Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy made careers out of shattering innocent lives during highly publicized anti-communist Congressional hearings in the 1950s.

In essence, John Ashcroft claims that if you question the unprecedented steps he and his Justice Department are taking, if you voice doubts about the concept of destroying freedom in order to save it, if you step out of the narrow line being drawn by he and Mr. Bush, you are a terrorist. If you dare to participate in that most fundamental American activity - dissent - you are aiding and abetting the murderous butchers who sent thousands of our citizens to death three months ago.

No more grave an accusation can be leveled in this time, and no more base and groundless a charge can be or has been spoken. It is one thing to sit for weeks and hold your tongue for fear of being called unpatriotic, as many patriotic Americans did in the aftermath of September 11th. It is another again to be called a terrorist for defending the sanctity of the United States Constitution from men who come for it with erasers and redacting tape.

Ashcroft claims that there are people who are scaring Americans with "phantoms of lost liberty." Let us examine some of these phantoms, and see if there is any flesh on the bone.

The First Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The idea that it was unpatriotic to question Bush in the aftermath of September 11th received wide play and acclaim in the media, and still does in many circles. This skirted the edges of free speech restrictions forbidden by the First Amendment. Ashcrofts proclamation of December 6th, that anyone who speaks out against his and Mr. Bush's plans, fairly defines the reason this Amendment was created in the first place.

Patriotic Americans will now fear to speak out against the government, the first fundamental responsibility of any citizen, for fear of an accusation that will taint them forever. It is intimidation in the raw of the first principle - the right to speak your mind, and to defy authority when it has gone awry.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution reads as follows: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Section 213 of the PATRIOT Anti-Terrorism Bill is entitled 'Authority for Delaying Notice of the Execution of a Warrant.' Legal analysts have given this provision a snappier title: the "sneak and peek" section. Under 213, Federal officers can enter your home, search your belongings, and attach devices to your personal computer that record and broadcast back to them any and all keystrokes you make while online. They can do all of this without ever letting you know they were there.

Ostensibly, this provision is aimed at true-blue terrorists. We don't want them to know we're watching. After Ashcroft's performance of December 6th, however, any belief we may have that he or his department will restrain themselves from using this provision to police ordinary Americans must be shaken to the core. If you speak out against Ashcroft, you are a terrorist. The next logical step is that you will therefore be treated like one.

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution reads as follows: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."

One of the main reasons Ashcroft was ordered to appear before Congress was because of Bush's recent Executive Order authorizing the use of secret military tribunals to try - and potentially order the execution of - anyone suspected of being a terrorist. This is troubling on its face - secret trials with secret evidence followed by secret judgments.

Read the Executive Order closely, however. The section entitled 'Definition and Policy' describes what manner of suspect would come before the tribunal:

"(a) The term 'individual subject to this order' shall mean any individual who is not a United States citizen with respect to whom I determine from time to time in writing that:

(1) there is reason to believe that such individual, at the relevant times, (i) is or was a member of the organization known as al Qaida; (ii) has engaged in, aided or abetted, or conspired to commit, acts of international terrorism, or acts in preparation therefor, that have caused, threaten to cause, or have as their aim to cause, injury to or adverse effects on the United States, its citizens, national security, foreign policy, or economy; or (iii) has knowingly harbored one or more individuals described in subparagraphs (i) or (ii) of subsection 2(a)(1) of this order; and (2) it is in the interest of the United States that such individual be subject to this order."

It is (2) that gives pause. There are some 20 million non-citizens occupying and working in this country right now. They could be arrested, detained, tried and convicted in secret if someone decides "it is in the interest of the United States." If John Ashcroft, whose idea of treason extends to questioning his highly questionable actions, is representative of the attitude being brought to this anti-terrorism endeavor, the precepts laid out in the Sixth Amendment have suddenly turned appallingly fragile.

One last thought: considering the lengths Ashcroft seems willing to go in order to stifle dissent, one wonders how difficult it would be to strip someone like you or I of our citizenship if we yell a bit too loudly. We would then be subject to (2) as well. If we have learned anything in the last three months, we have learned that the only thing sure to happen is the previously inconceivable.

The phantoms Mr. Ashcroft so arrogantly disparaged seem to have some significant substance, after all.

It comes to this: At the bottom, America is an idea, one represented and defended by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Amendments listed above. Destroy the idea and you have destroyed the nation. If we are to believe the hyperbole of the administration, those who attacked us on September 11th did so because they despise our freedoms. To destroy those freedoms in response to the attack is tantamount to surrender.

I am not ready to surrender. Are you? Is Ashcroft? Is Bush? If not, then there are other motives at work here. Power, after all, is always hungry and in search of more territory to annex. Thus has it always been, which is why those Amendments are so vital.

Fascism is defined as, "A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism."

The only thing probable is the unimaginable now. This definition cuts too close to the bone. The time has come to stand up and say no to this slow evisceration of the idea that is America, to say no to men like Ashcroft who hold our essential freedoms in such contempt.

Never forget that it was Ashcroft, in the earliest iteration of the Anti-Terrorism bill, who advocated the suspension of habeas corpus. If there is a beating heart within the body of laws that protect our freedoms, habeas corpus is it. That alone should be enough to rouse us all.

I intend to challenge, at every opportunity, the assertion by Mr. Ashcroft that dissention is equal to terrorism. I intend to continue my questioning of his contra-Constitutional program of restrictions until they are stopped. I beg you to do the same.

I offer you the opportunity to add your name and voice to this fight. Send me an email at: , and I will place your name on a list to appear on this website. By giving me your name, you sign a document that states your opposition to Ashcroft's Constitutional revisions while denouncing him for daring to call you a terrorist.

You are an American patriot. Stand up and be counted as one.

It is entirely possible that there will be trouble for you if you do this. Any fight for freedom has costs, and I cannot promise that you will not be made to pay for daring to speak your American mind here.

All I can promise is this: You will have done the right thing.

Stand up.
2001 William Rivers Pitt


Giving Comfort To The Enemy
By Robert Pagani

So, Congress called Attorney General Ashcroft up to Capitol Hill to explain his shall-we-say "interesting" interpretation of civil rights. You know, that whole detaining-people-without-any-charges-and-listening-in-on-their-conversations-with-their- attorneys thing. I know what you're thinking: those Democrats must have really given it to him! Yeah, right. This thing was as rough and tumble as a pajama party pillow fight.

Der Fuhrer--oops, sorry, the Attorney General, set the tone right at the get-go. He said his critics' "bold declarations of so-called fact have quickly dissolved, upon inspection, into vague conjecture. Charges of 'kangaroo courts' and 'shredding the Constitution' give new meaning to the term 'the fog of war.'" I've never heard the term "fog of war" before and I don't know what it means but it sure is catchy, huh?

Let's see...if you're held by the government without any charges being presented, with the threat of being tried by a military tribunal which doesn't have to show you or your lawyer the "evidence" against you, might the term "kangaroo court" not be applicable? Yup, those so-called facts sure are pesky, aren't they?

Ashcroft went on to say "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists--for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil."

Got that? In other words, if you're among those who, like me, think that the government is wiping its ass with the words of the Founding Fathers, you're helping the terrorists. It's not that you sincerely believe that the Bush administration is overstepping its authority and acting like a dictatorship, nope, you're giving ammunition to binLaden. You're not an American citizen exercising his Constitutional right to disagree with the government; you're a terrorist! This, of course, is the cheap rhetorical trick of someone who has no real justification for his actions. When you can't defend what you're doing, go on the attack.

Remember the scene in Animal House where the Deltas are on trial? Remember Otter going on a rant about how accusing them of wrong-doing is an indictment of American society? Stuff like that is pretty funny when it's in a silly frat comedy but it's pretty damn sad when the same logical fallacy is employed by the Attorney General of the United States, a real-life guy with the power to screw royally with people he disagrees with.

You'd expect that, since they called him to Capitol Hill to defend his actions, the Democrats put Ashcroft through the wringer. Well, you'd expect that if you've never seen those eunuchs in action. When exactly did castration become a requirement to run for office as a Democrat? Those empty suits took one look at George W.'s approval ratings and their testes retracted into their body cavities. This, of course, raises the question:


President Bush and his logic-challenged Attorney General are taking the greatest democracy the world has ever seen into waters previously chartered by the Soviet Union. Remember them, the Evil Empire? If warrantless arrests without evidence and secret trials were wrong when THEY conducted them, why do they suddenly become okay when WE do them? See, that's the kind of question it would have been nice if the Democrats had asked John Ashcroft. Yeah, it would be nice if someone would make this guy defend the radical actions he's taken and continues to propose. Oh, wait, I forgot--that would be wrong. It would be like giving ammunition to bin Laden.

It would make those who questioned the Attorney General terrorists. My ass, it would.
2001 Robert Pagani from Cranky Media Guy

Nina interviews a "corporate head."

Dead Letter Office

Heil Bush,

Dear Propaganda Ansager Totenberg,

Congratulations you have just been awarded the Vidkun Quisling Award for 2001. Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Antoni (light-fingers) Scalia.

Without your help shilling for us, spinning the truth, telling out right lies and ignoring the real news, holding onto power after our Coup D' Etat would have been impossible. With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Media Whores," you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account.

Along with this award there will be an Iron Cross 2nd class presented by our glorious Fuhrer Herr Bush at a gala celebration in der Fuhrer Bunker (formally the White House) on 12-15-2001. We salute you Frau Totenberg, Sieg Heil!

Deputy Fuhrer Cheney

Heil Bush


<> Patriot Games
By Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas -- By George, we need honest, reasoned debate around here and not fear-mongering, so anyone out there who suspects Attorney General John Ashcroft of being a nincompoop is clearly aiding terrorists and giving ammunition to America's enemies. Ashcroft says so, and if that's not reasoned debate, what is?

Under the high standards of reason set forth by Ashcroft, we are allowed to present CORRECT information (those who present incorrect information, like some people in government, erode our national unity and diminish our resolve) as to what the attorney general is up to. While Operation Enduring Freedom continues in Afghanistan, enduring freedom is not looking so good here at home -- and like the A.G., I would be the last to encourage people of goodwill to remain silent in the face of evil.

Here is some CORRECT information about enduring freedom:

-- Ashcroft's urpily named PATRIOT Act permits government agents to search a suspect's home without notification. In J. Edgar Hoover's day, this was known as "a black-bag job." As Nat Hentoff reports in The Progressive: "A warrant would be required, but very few judges would turn a government investigator down in this time of fear. Ashcroft's 'secret searches' provision can now extend to all criminal cases and can include taking photographs, the contents of your hard drive and other property. This is now a permanent part of the law, not subject to any 'sunset review' by Congress."

Many of our tough-minded brethren, to whom it is perfectly clear that less freedom equals more security, have dismissed complaints by saying, after all, these measures only apply to non-citizens, and besides, the worst parts of it will sunset in four years. Wrong. This means you, fellow citizens -- if you happen to know someone whose brother-in-law rented a garage apartment to a guy who knew someone who might be a terrorist. Benjamin Franklin said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety." But I'm pretty sure Franklin didn't mean to aid terrorists, so please don't report him to the A.G.

-- The expansion of wiretapping authority to computers simply puts privacy in cyberspace in jeopardy without any concomitant gain to law enforcement. According to James X. Dempsey, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, neither Congress nor the media have put all this together to see the breadth of the dragnet.

The government can now delve into personal and private records of individuals even if they cannot be directly connected to a terrorist or foreign government. Bank records, e-mails, library records, even the track of discount cards at grocery stories can be obtained on individuals without establishing any connection to a terrorist before a judge. According to the Los Angeles Times, Al Qaeda uses sophisticated encryption devices freely available on the Internet that cannot be cracked. So the terrorists are safe from cyber-snooping, but we're not.

-- Ashcroft and Co. essentially say, "Trust us, we won't misuse these new laws." But in fact the FBI and the CIA have repeatedly violated such trust to spy on everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Jean Seberg. That's why the checks were there to begin with.

-- According to an analysis of PATRIOT by the Electronic Freedom Foundation, the government made no showing that the previous powers of laws enforcement and intelligence agencies to spy on U.S. citizens were insufficient to allow them to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism: "Many provisions that, instead of (being) aimed at terrorism, are aimed at nonviolent, domestic computer crime. In addition, although many of the provisions appear aimed at terrorism, the government made no showing that the reasons they failed to detect the planning of the recent attacks or any other terrorist attacks were the civil liberties compromised by the bill. The government may now spy on web-surfing of innocent Americans, including terms entered into search engines, by merely telling a judge anywhere in the U.S. that the spying could lead to information that is 'relevant' to an ongoing criminal investigation."

The person spied on does not have to be the target of the investigation nor is probable cause required.

-- The military tribunals idea is so bad the administration has been backing up on it steadily, especially since Spain has already announced it won't turn over its Al Qaeda suspects to a system so violative of international standards. The Spaniards, who have been fighting Basque terrorists for years, are not noticeably "soft on terrorism."

-- Lest you think our only attorney general does not care about rights, I point out that when it comes to the 550 he has "detained" since September, without evidence, without charges, without identification and without legal counsel, he so fully respects the Second Amendment rights of these non-citizens that he has reversed the Justice Department's previous stand to forbid the FBI to check on their gun-purchase records in order to protect their privacy. Also, Ashcroft fully believes in the rights of the unborn. The born are on their own.
2001 Molly Ivins To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at


<> Scare Tactics
By Ann Thomas

There's a long list of things which I find annoying (to put it mildly) about right-wingers; so many, in fact, that I'd be hard-pressed to list them all in a single rant. I suppose one of the few good things I can say about them is that they make the writing of rants rather easy, as they provide an endless source of inspiration. And right-wingers are never more annoying than during an election. To be sure, they try one's patience at the best of times, but elections always bring out the worst in politicians and their supporters.

One of the campaign tactics which I find particularly annoying is the 'scare tactics' tactic -- that is, the accusation that one's opponent is using 'scare tactics'. We hear this all the time from regressives -- "Those liberals are just using scare tactics! How dastardly of them! Boo! Hiss!"

Like most regressive rhetoric, this accusation doesn't hold up well when deconstructed (unfortunately, it rarely is). What, exactly, do they mean when they accuse Democrats of using scare tactics? Simply put, they mean that Democrats are trying to scare people into voting for them. But that's just the surface. The underlying meaning is that Democrats are LYING in order to scare people into voting for them. But since it doesn't look terribly honorable and mature to scream "Liar, liar!" constantly, and since - more importantly - people might ask for DETAILS of the supposed lie (thereby risking the revelation that the Democrats aren't lying at all) the 'scare tactic' line comes in handy. No explanation is needed -- if Democrats are merely trying to scare people, then it follows that one shouldn't take anything they say seriously. It's the same philosophy used in the 'laugh it off' tactic...laugh at your opponents assertions as if he/she is merely being facetious, and the listener isn't as likely to consider that perhaps the assertions are actually true.

Here's the thing: it isn't a scare tactic - in the way the regressives mean it - if it's TRUE. If Democrats had a bit more spine, they'd stand up to the accusation and state point-blank that they are not using hyperbole or lies, but are issuing warnings about very real dangers that are posed by right-wing policies.

There's a big difference between a scare tactic and a warning. And of course some politicians use both, Democrats and Republicans alike. But what the regressives have done is twist the language so that any sort of warning issued by a Democrat is automatically labeled a 'scare tactic' and (if the strategy works) dismissed. And while the right-wing propagandists are busily accusing those on the left of trying to frighten to poor, stupid people (yes, stupid - that's the weak part of the strategy; it assumes that people are stupid enough to fall for empty scare tactics and must be warned against them, and you should remember this point the next time a regressive brings up the issue), they're equally busy deploying their own scare tactics. Without, I might add, much fear of anyone pointing out what they're doing...because the right has so steadily accused the left of using scare tactics, it seems that Democrats are afraid of looking like copycats if they do the same thing.

This whole cycle is so damned frustrating that it's difficult to know how to counter it. Patience is needed. When right-wingers accuse others of using scare tactics, the accused need to stand firm and ask for details. For example, if a politicians warns that, say, privatizing Social Security would threaten the stability of Social Security, and the nearest regressive screams 'Scare tactic!', the politician should calmly explain that no, privatizing Social Security WILL threaten its stability, and then go on to give facts and details and prove the point. And THEN go on to point out that a more accurate example of a 'scare tactic' is having someone like Charlton Heston run around telling people that if a Democrat is elected the government is going to confiscate everyone's guns. By doing this, one achieves two things: first, for those who might believe that the left uses scare tactics, it sheds light on the supposed 'scare tactics' and proves that they are, in fact, genuine warnings issued because of a sincere disagreement with a proposed policy. And two, it proves that right-wingers are hypocrites when they whine about scare tactics, because nobody, and I mean NOBODY, uses scare tactics as well as the right.

True scare tactics are bad form, and I would be disappointed in any liberal who used them. Warnings, however, are not only acceptable, but necessary. Liberals should not stop issuing warnings simply because regressives resort to name-calling. Warnings can scare people, it's true, but they can also spur people into action.

If there's a fine line between scare tactics and warnings, there's an even finer line between scare tactics and threats. And because right-wingers are so adept at scare tactics, it stands to reason that they'd be awfully adept at issuing threats, as well. And they are, as we have seen. During the Florida recount, the unspoken but understood threat was that the right-wingers would do anything to see that Bush was placed in the White House. The Miami-Dade riot was a mere warning of further violence to come if their wishes were not heeded. That this was understood by most people is clear - even the media acknowledged it in a roundabout way, by talking about the need to resolve matters 'for the good of the country'. Some conservative legal scholars, while not quite able to accept the Supreme Court's flawed rationale for handing the presidency to Bush, nevertheless condoned the decision because it was 'for the best' that the matter be resolved (in Bush's favor). In other words, the right-wingers were willing to be much nastier than the Democrats, so it was best to just let them have their way.

We're seeing the same sort of philosophy - that of using threats and intimidation to achieve a goal - coming out of the Justice Department these days. John Ashcroft, when asked to come before the Senate with an explanation of his questionable proposals for fighting terrorism here at home, issued a threat which was as clear as it was chilling -- those who criticize his methods, he claims, are aiding the terrorists.

We shouldn't be surprised by such an open declaration of intimidation; it's been coming from the Bushies for months. If you aren't with us, you're against us - remember? And 'with us' means - as Ashcroft so unequivocally put it - unquestioning obedience. Dissent will not be tolerated, because as things now stand, to dissent is to give aid to the enemy. And giving aid to the enemy is treason.

Here's a 'scare tactic' that'd made right-wingers squeal in mock outrage: we had better do something now, and I mean NOW, to change the direction in which this country is headed or we will soon find that democracy has not just been crippled - it's been obliterated, and our freedom right along with it.

It is altogether possible that I, and those like me who refuse to be intimidated and continue to speak out against the illegitimate Bush regime, will be imprisoned, or worse, in the not-too-distant future.

It is altogether possible that military tribunals will become the norm, and it doesn't much matter whether or not they're restricted to non-citizens, because I and those like me could be stripped of our citizenship.

It is more than possible - it is, at this stage, likely.

It would all be for the good of the country, of course.

Am I scaring you?

By God, I hope so.

2001 Ann Thomas is editor and publisher of the Practical Radical.

The Cartoon Corner

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of Rob Rogers







To End On A Happy Note ...

By Neil Young

There's colors on the street
Red, white and blue
People shufflin' their feet
People sleepin' in their shoes
But there's a warnin' sign on the road ahead
There's a lot of people sayin' we'd be better off dead
Don't feel like Satan, but I am to them
So I try to forget it, any way I can.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

I see a woman in the night
With a baby in her hand
Under an old street light
Near a garbage can
Now she puts the kid away, and she's gone to get a hit
She hates her life, and what she's done to it
There's one more kid that will never go to school
Never get to fall in love, never get to be cool.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

We got a thousand poi [snip - maximum size exceeded]

-- Jeff
-- signature .

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