To nobody's shock and awe, Lawyer-in-Chief John Ashcroft recently grabbed a sound bite moment to defend the USA PATRIOT Act. What should put libertarians into shock and awe is the way he defended it.
For those who have never lifted their gaze from nonstop reality show programming, the USA PATRIOT Act is an ingenious shredding machine designed to transform just about every right in the Bill of Rights into party confetti.
Attending a pep rally in Seattle where he praised government War on Terror officials (they did such a bang-up job of protecting us on 11 September 2001) the Attorney Generalcrat assured us that our fear and loathing of USA PATRIOT is just a big misunderstanding of the law. (Cap'n to Cool Hand Luke: "What we've got here is failure to communicate.")
As reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Ashcroft said the law provides federal investigators battling terrorism some of the same tools available to them in fighting such crimes as drug trafficking."
That should make all libertarians feel warm and cozy; let's turn the failed War on Drugs into a failed War on Terrorism.
From an actual news item: DEA thugs battered down Kay Tanner's door, handcuffed her, grilled her for eight hours, and tore up her house searching for evidence. All because her former tenants were wanted on drug charges. No evidence was found, but she was charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine anyway, and is now serving ten years in a fed pen.
Do we really want to apply Drug War tactics to the Terror War?
Future news item: Homeland Security agents battered down Kay Tanner's door, handcuffed her, grilled her for eight hours, and tore up her house searching for evidence. All because she once rented to a nice, clean-cut middle-class Islamic-American family who conscientiously sent money home to their nephew attending college in Saudi Arabia whose roommate had "links" to a splinter group of an organization suspected of associating with al Quida . No evidence was found that Ms Tanner knew about the connection. But she was charged with conspiracy to traffic terror anyway, and is now serving ten years in a fed pen.
The RAVE act is another Drug War "tool" that could be used to ratchet up the Terror War. It was designed to stamp out freedom of association because some young folks are known to do drugs during these all night parties. Besides, they play that awful, disgusting music -- nothing like the beautiful, classic acid rock the ruling classes grew up with. And the law's existence has already produced unintended (or was this really intended?) consequences.
From an actual news item: Adam Jones organized a rally in Billings MT to raise money for a medical marijuana ballot initiative. He made arrangements with the Fraternal Order of Eagles Lodge and lined up some of those bands that the ruling classes hate so much. Then a DEA bluenose came nosing around, telling the Lodge manager that his goons would be watching. If just one person was seen popping a proscribed pill or puffing a pipe of pot the lodge could be shut down and face a quarter-million-dollar civil fine. Surprise! The manager canceled the event.
Future news item: The Dar Us Sallam mosque in College Park MD operates as a church, school and daycare center for local Muslim-American citizens. Then a Homeland Security bluenose came nosing around, telling the mosque's director that, because some community programs at some mosques in some cities are fronts for funneling money to international terrorists, his goons would be watching. If just one donated dollar found its way to one person with "links" to a splinter group of an organization suspected of associating with al Quida the mosque could be shut down and face a quarter-million-dollar civil fine. Surprise! The director canceled all of the mosque's social programs.
Punishing innocent people will never stop the spread of drugs or the spread of terror. Ashcroft and the other Drug/Terror Warlords don't seem to comprehend or care that these are acts of impotence on their part. If you can't catch the big guys, take it out on innocent Americans. It's like going home and kicking the cat because you got beat up by a bully.
When will we see the creation of the cabinet-level Office of Big Government Security, which will be in charge of conducting the War on Everybody? The American prison industry, which provides more housing than any other prison system in the so-called free world, will love it.
Garry is a prolific writer and many more of his works may be found at:
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