Friday, October 1, 2004

Second thoughts from Right and Left

Stampede is the only word fit to describe the panicked, wrong-headed voting of Congress after 9/11.

Seized by war fever and the taste for revenge, Congress voted a blank check to President Bush to attack Iraq and spend whatever necessary, and, more horrifyingly, they frayed America?s liberties by voting for the disingenuously named Patriot Act, whose authoritarian powers are suited for jackbooted storm troopers.
Now, second thoughts are creeping across the consciences of Congress, the public and the courts about a wide range of powers vested in the president, the Pentagon and The Enforcer, Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose FBI agents jail first, question later.

The Bush administration is faced with rolling back its methods.

The latest: Federal Judge Victor Marrero of District Court in Manhattan declared unconstitutional the Patriot Act?s provision allowing FBI agents to demand, without court approval, business records and to arrest anyone who even re-veals the records have been searched or seized.

The provision has ?no place in our open society,? Judge Marrero ruled.

The U.S. Supreme Court also has ruled the government has no right to indefinitely imprison terror suspects without access to lawyers or without charges.

And the Salt Lake Deseret News reports that Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch is under intense pressure from icons of the Left and Right, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union, to name two, not to expand the Patriot Act and, in fact, repeal odorous parts.

The two groups joined others in full-page newspaper ads in Utah, Alaska, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., telling Americans not to ?confuse the Patriot Act with patriotism.?

Joining the chorus of critics are two conservative Republican senators, John McCain, of Arizona, and Chuck Nagel, of Nebraska, as well as moderate Republicans such as Sen. Richard Lugar, of Indiana, who?re anguished about whether the president is leveling with Americans on worsening conditions in Iraq.

As an unexpected blow, the president and the Republican Party were blindsided this week in an op ed piece in the ultraconservative New Hampshire Union-Leader by John Eisenhower, son of the late President Dwight Eisenhower.

He announced he would vote for Sen. John Kerry rather than President Bush. He wrote that ?today?s Republican Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar, ? and listed a series of objections to the current administration?s ?mav-erick? foreign policy, deficit spending and debt, and creating ?a society of very rich and very poor.?

He also quoted one of his father?s 1960 Republic convention speeches as a warning about trading freedoms for se-curity, paraphrasing Founding Father Benjamin Franklin?s 1759 warning to the new United States: ?If ever we put any other value above (our) liberty and above principle, we shall lose both.?

But are Americans listening?

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