Hatch on crack ...
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
"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
"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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