Using Bees To Effect Vengeance
Friday, December 07, 2001
That John Ashcroft is a piece of work. I'm shaking my head at this point. Criticism of his clearly extraordinary actions = aiding terrorists? So not only are we supposed to accept an enormous erosion of our civil liberties, we're expected to do so without debate. Waving an al-Qaeda manual around is not a legitimate response either. No one's questioning that we need to do something; the issue is what we need to do. The fact that we are in danger does not mean that any and all actions dreamed up by John Ashcroft to counter that danger are the best, most effective actions we could take; he needs to be accountable, like any member of government. His harping on the chilling terror of al-Qaeda completely obfuscates the issue.
I think the Bush administration has done a pretty good job of prosecuting the war in Afghanistan. They've done a dreadful job prosecuting it here. I'm particularly fed up with Bush and Ashcroft waving away legitimate questions about their unilateral revocations of civil rights with "We're at war, people. We must fight the evildoers. We need every possbile means at our disposal." That's just not good enough. If these are legitimate weapons in the war, why not provide justifications for them in and of themselves? Instead their responses boil down to "Trust me". The whole point of the US Constitution -- written by Americans who had just fought a war in part to guarantee their right to dissent -- was to place crucial civil rights beyond the grasp of government; that's why we've been so proud to call ourselves "a nation of laws, not men". At the moment, we are a nation of men, and unless we insist that the Bush administration remain accountable to the public and to our representatives in Congress, we've seriously damaged our system of government.
More angles: Rafe points out that Ashcroft's refusal to let the FBI cross-check terror suspects against the DOJ's gun-purchaser database represents the height of hypocrisy. Ashcroft is deeply concerned about preserving gun-owners' privacy rights, but allowing attorneys and clients to converse without the prosecution eavesdropping? suspending habeas corpus? not a big deal. In fact, not even kosher to argue about. Guess we know where his priorities are.
The bitter irony is that the NRA etc. always defend their stance on the 2nd Amendment on the grounds that civilians need to be armed in order to counter any oppressive government attempting to take away their liberties.
(Nixon speechwriter) William Safire in the New York Times: Ashcroft's approach is backfiring.
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