Hatch on crack ...

Elias Sinderson elias at cse.ucsc.edu
Tue Sep 16 01:15:32 PDT 2003

... or, Orin needs an information enema - either would be appropriate 
alternatives for the title to this article, although I don't suppose 
they would fly past the editor. At any rate, consider the following:

    "Not one of the civil liberties groups has cited one instance of
    abuse of our constitutional rights, one decision by any court that
    any part of the Patriot Act was unconstitutional or one shred of
    evidence to contradict the fact that these tools protect what is
    perhaps our most important civil liberty, the freedom from future
    terrorist attacks," Hatch wrote ..

What planet is this guy on? Doesn't the ACLU count as 'one of the civil 
liberties groups'? Or perhaps he simply doesn't read their dispatches... 
And since when was the 'freedom from terrorist attacks' listed in the 
bill of rights?

I find it quite interesting that our salvation from this draconian era 
of legislation may actually come from the extreme right - the very 
people I've spent most of my life fearing and railing against. Oh well, 
perhaps it is truely as they say, that the enemy of my enemy is my friend?


Hatch alarms right over anti-terror act
MONDAY September 15, 2003

By Christopher Smith
The Salt Lake Tribune

WASHINGTON -- When Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch says he will do 
everything in his power to grant President Bush's latest request to 
expand federal police authority beyond the Patriot Act, it dismays one 
of the nation's leading conservative strategists.
    "That's like somebody saying they'll raise taxes indefinitely," said 
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a board 
member of the National Rifle Association and American Conservative 
Union. "Why would he want to give the federal government indefinite power?"
    At a time when many GOP lawmakers from the Rocky Mountain states are 
saying the anti-terrorism law passed immediately after the Sept. 11, 
2001, attacks went too far and needs greater checks and balances, Utah's 
senior senator has become Congress' leading proponent of giving federal 
authorities more law enforcement powers and fewer judicial authorization 
    Hatch's positions have rarely endeared him to liberals, but he is 
increasingly catching heat from disciples of the limited-government 
ideology that swept him into Congress in 1976.
    Conservative commentators in Washington say the chairman of the 
Senate Judiciary Committee should stop handing the keys to 
constitutional protections to a Justice Department that wants as much 
power as possible to stop suspected terrorists yet won't divulge 
specifics on how that broad authority is being used to monitor 
law-abiding citizens.
    "These federal prosecutors are like teenage boys on prom night who 
have one thing on their mind and they want more of it," said Norquist, 
who worked on the staff of the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Republican Party 
Platform committees. "It's Congress' job to sometimes tell them no. 
[House Judiciary Chairman Rep. James] Sensenbrenner has certainly been 
more aggressive in that than Hatch, unless Hatch is doing it quietly 
behind closed doors."
    Quite the opposite, Hatch has championed the Patriot Act in several 
appearances, congressional speeches and national newspaper columns in 
the past year. He remains committed to repealing the 2005 sunset of many 
of the act's most controversial provisions, arguing that terrorism will 
not cease to be a threat when the laws expire.
    "Not one of the civil liberties groups has cited one instance of 
abuse of our constitutional rights, one decision by any court that any 
part of the Patriot Act was unconstitutional or one shred of evidence to 
contradict the fact that these tools protect what is perhaps our most 
important civil liberty, the freedom from future terrorist attacks," 
Hatch wrote in a USA Today commentary in May.
    Recently, Hatch has been developing a bill dubbed with one of his 
signature acronyms, the Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist 
Organizations, or "Victory" Act. Privacy watchdogs say it's the closest 
thing they have seen to the never-introduced "Patriot II" Act that would 
have allowed secret arrests, collection of DNA samples from suspected 
terrorists and revocation of citizenship.
    "Hatch has gone over the cliff defending [Attorney General] John 
Ashcroft, and now he's more than willing to be the point man on this," 
said Tim Edgar, legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in 
Washington. "When you're in no political danger back home, your base of 
power becomes Washington and you start reacting to people in the 
administration much more than you would to people at home."
    Although Patriot and its spawn have given rise to a handful of 
protest rallies in Salt Lake City and provide periodic grist for local 
radio talk shows, only one Utah municipality has passed a resolution 
denouncing the new enforcement powers, according to the ACLU's database. 
In February, the tiny Grand County hamlet of Castle Valley declared that 
the Patriot Act "may allow the federal government when pursuing matters 
of security to sacrifice fundamental liberties protected by due process 
and probable cause."
    Hatch staffers discount any similarities between the Patriot and 
Victory acts, arguing the provisions in the draft Victory Act are 
narrowly focused on combating "narco-terrorism," the financing of 
terrorists through illegal drug dealing.
    "This is an issue of interest to all members of the committee," said 
Hatch spokeswoman Margarita Tapia. "Of course he is going to consider 
all options in eliminating financing options to individuals who are 
committed to attacking our country."
    But conservatives question why more drug laws and enforcement powers 
are needed.
    "We're not supportive of illegal drugs, but we would say the federal 
government has plenty of resources already on hand for this," said Steve 
Lilienthal of the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative Washington 
think tank. "The government was seeking a lot of these powers before 
9-11, but after the attacks, they seized upon terrorism as a way to get 
what they had always wanted."
    One aspect of Hatch's embrace of broad government police powers that 
most worries conservatives is not how the Bush administration will use 
them, but how a White House occupied by a future president might.
    "We are concerned not about Ashcroft, but about a possible 
subsequent attorney general, named by President Hillary Rodham Clinton, 
who might define as terrorists those of us who peacefully oppose 
government polices," Free Congress Foundation Chairman Paul Weyrich 
wrote last week after he and Lilienthal met with top officials of the 
Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security about the act.
    Those concerns are catching on with some majority Republicans in 
Congress. Rep. Butch Otter, R-Idaho, surprised the administration in 
July when his amendment to eliminate funding for the Patriot Act's 
so-called sneak-and-peek provision passed the House by 3-to-1, with 112 
Republicans voting in favor. The provision allows federal law 
enforcement officers to secretly search a person's home or office 
without notifying him of the search until weeks afterward. Of Utah's 
House members, Democrat Jim Matheson and Republican Rob Bishop voted in 
favor of the Otter Amendment and Republican Chris Cannon voted against 
it. The amendment is still pending in a spending bill that has yet to 
receive full congressional approval.
    Before the August recess, Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Ron 
Wyden, D-Ore., introduced legislation to create a higher standard of 
judicial review before Patriot Act powers can be used.
    "To date it appears portions of the Patriot Act may have moved the 
scales out of balance," Murkowski said in a statement.
    Some Republicans are finding it acceptable not to toe the White 
House line by using the argument "What if Janet Reno had the Patriot 
Act?" to stake a safe political position without bashing Ashcroft.
    "I don't know whether Hatch is slower to see this than other 
Republicans, but the Butch Otter vote was a statement to the 
administration that Congress is not going to stand there like potted 
plants and accept everything they send over," Norquist said. "It's been 
two years since 9-11, and for the administration to still answer the 
public's questions about how these powers are being used with 'Just 
trust us' is insulting."
    csmith at sltrib.com <mailto:csmith at sltrib.com>
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