Ashcroft tells Congress that his critics are helping the enemy.
December 6, 2001 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Ashcroft tells Congress that his critics are helping the enemy. "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists."
posted by argybarg (79 comments total)

 
I can't believe this guy! (Not Argy, Ashcroft) It's not good enough for him to get his way, and subvert the Constitution, he has the nerve to complain about people who challenge the state of affairs.

Wait, I hear a knock at the door, I think they're coming for me for challengin.........
posted by wsfinkel at 1:05 PM on December 6, 2001


the man who would be king... ashcroft.

scary.
posted by eatdonuts at 1:10 PM on December 6, 2001


I was wondering which of the duplicates to use ;)

As Rafe has already said on his personal site, "How dare he attempt to make people feel ashamed for criticizing the government."

This ASScroft quote is pure McCarthyism. It is just as easy to condemn the Administration for scaring peace-loving people with their tactics too.
posted by terrapin at 1:21 PM on December 6, 2001


Paraphrased from Ashcroft hearing: "People who are complaining about what the administration are doing are aiding the terrorists by undermining our national unity."

First reaction: Why is it so important that the nation be united?
(And, of course, when he says united, he means "agree with what I'm saying." I somehow doubt that a nation united against what the administration is hell bent on doing would be an acceptable version of unification in Ashcroft's mind.)

Second reaction: How does he think that acting as heavy-handed with Congress as he is doing is going to make carrying out any of his plans any easier. Throughout the questioning, he seemed overbearing and impatient with the whole process - miffed that he had even been made to attend. Congress seemed less upset over the actual content of the administration's intentions as it did over the Executive overstepping what can be seen as its legitimate authority. The Congressmen seemed to be saying, "Well, if you would just included us in this..." This administration's arrogance is going to be their downfall. (Just like the previous two's, btw.)
posted by edlark at 1:22 PM on December 6, 2001


All those who oppose President-for-life Bush are helping the terrorists. And therefore they ARE terrorists. It's all coming together....
posted by electro at 1:24 PM on December 6, 2001


The "If you're not with us, you're against us" policy, domestic edition. Which reminds me: Anyone catch The New Yorker's call for President Bush to fire Ashcroft?
posted by sacre_bleu at 1:26 PM on December 6, 2001


The only way you can prove you aren't a terrorist is to imprison yourselves. Only a terrorist would resist lawful confinement! Peace-loving americans have nothing to fear; turn yourselves in today!
posted by aramaic at 1:37 PM on December 6, 2001


Remember that Ashcroft is a christian of the "control freak" persuasion as opposed to the "live and let be" type. Apparently some Republicans are getting a bit miffed with Johnny-boy as well.
posted by mischief at 1:43 PM on December 6, 2001


The attorney general said the manual shows that terrorists are taught to manipulate the U.S. judicial system and news media to their advantage.

That's good enough reason for me to close down the open society we enjoy. It was good while it lasted.

Who does this guy think he's trying to convince? I could see him sending these statements on the week of sept 11th and getting alot of jingo cheers, but unfortunately since then he's done nothing but drop the ball and anger a lot of Americans. Including the "peace-loving" kind, which as far as I can tell is a metaphor for conservatives.

This guy comes off more and more like a dictator every time I read something about him. I understand his situation, but the criticisms against him are more than fair and he refuses to address them on a point by point basis.

Didn't he take an oath to protect the constitution? I think at this point he's done a lot to subvert it. Perhaps the calls to firing aren't premature.
posted by skallas at 1:46 PM on December 6, 2001


He is lurching into Janet Reno land in a hurry. Ick.
posted by thirteen at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2001


Why bother with a long post? I think "What a giant asshole!" sums the whole thing up.
posted by raysmj at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2001


Here's the article in the New Yorker that sacre_blue mentioned.
posted by terrapin at 1:53 PM on December 6, 2001


nice trolling, thirteen.
posted by terrapin at 1:53 PM on December 6, 2001


I put no stock into the idea that our systems and institutions are not strong enough to handle this crisis. Our nation has been through a lot, and this just smacks of someone who doesn't think we've been doing a good job all along. To me, the people who are disolving national unity (which I do think is important and a good thing when applied in the right direction) are those who question the strength and integrity of our national institutions.

I am certain that Bush has the right intentions, even if may disagree on some level with the Military Tribunal declaration as it is written. I wish I could say I am as certain about Ashcroft's vision of the country.
posted by cell divide at 1:54 PM on December 6, 2001


nice trolling, thirteen.
Not a troll, I don't like either of them.
posted by thirteen at 2:02 PM on December 6, 2001


I don't believe that Ashcroft's vision for law enforcement during "wartime" is different than his vision for law enforcement at any time. He just sees his opportunity now.
posted by argybarg at 2:02 PM on December 6, 2001


Try to remember that the Ashcroft appointment was a sop to the religious right, and an easy one (or so they thought) since he was a Senator (still got like 40 votes against, so he wasn't a popular senator, apparently). No one ever expected he'd be positioned to justify encroachments on civil rights. So, where we benefitted that Bush rather than Gore was in the White House, we're taking the hit beacuse Ashcroft rather than (who?) is at DoJ. It was, as they say, a bad call, but one Bush was forced to make.

BUT let us not forget that though history tends to justify the temporary encroachment of civil rights during stressful periods, three things work in our favor: one, Americans will ALWAYS trade safety for freedom. We are a free people, and we do not tolerate repression well. We would fight rather than live in bondage. Second, we have a system of government that, for all its faults and foibles, is very good at checking the power of individuals - Ashcroft proposes, Congress disposes; thirdly, history also shows that, rather than losing civil liberties post-encroachment, invariably liberties are not only returned but overwhelmingly strengthened. An excellent example: the Civil War: Lincoln suspended habeas corpus (!), but also, delivered the Emancipation Proclamation.

This too shall pass. Ashcroft represents an increasingly marginalized segment of the population, and it is natural that as that segment diminishes, it would seek to envigor itself at the expense of other segments. The checks against exactly that are part of what makes our democracy strong.
posted by UncleFes at 2:25 PM on December 6, 2001


What the hell is our "chief of homeland security's" job description. Shouldn't he be locking up terrorists such as Ashcroft?
posted by DBAPaul at 2:26 PM on December 6, 2001


I'm just curious...are there any rational human beings in support of Ashcroft?
posted by mcsweetie at 2:37 PM on December 6, 2001


UncleFest: Abe Lincoln did that, oh, about 140 years ago. You think we'd learn something over 140 years ago? We learned plenty of other things from that impossibly bloody war. (Yeah, and I know FDR did the internment thing, etc. But, um, wasn't there sort of an outcry over that in years to come? A newspaper editor in Mississippi, Hodding Carter, even won a Pulitzer for attacking the move against Japanese citizens then. Wasn't there a lesson there?)
posted by raysmj at 2:37 PM on December 6, 2001


I'm still waiting for the definition of "terrorism". i don't expect it anytime soon, since, under any reasonable definition, the U.S gov't would have to admit that it has used and supported terrorism in the past. (the internationally recognized definition of terrorism is: "the use of force or threat of force against civilian populations to achieve a political objective.")

Anyome remember reading about the arrest of Ruckus Society leader John Sellers in Philadelphia during the 2000 GOP convention? He was held on $1 million bail for posessing a "tool of terror": a cellphone.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:37 PM on December 6, 2001


I voted for this administration and am supportive of this administration, but I will NEVER again support John Ashcroft.

I can't believe he equates US citizens that wish to protect their constitutional rights with terrorists.

Sorry John, this is strike three with me...and hopefully others!
posted by jlachapell at 2:40 PM on December 6, 2001


The thing that really ticked me off was that I heard a news story a few days ago that said Ashcroft is going to be asked to defend his recent actions to Congress. Then a day or 2 after that he makes another announcement of unspecified potential terrorist threats and implores all Americans not to relax their vigilance. I don't want to be a conspiracy theorist, but it seems pretty clear to me that his MO is to scare grandma into being afraid to open xmas cards from the grand kids for the sake of driving through or justifying his own political agenda.

There's just nothing about that, that isn't sick and disgusting.
posted by willnot at 2:40 PM on December 6, 2001


lots of Lefty whining here. My very own Senator Dodd, on Ashcroft's nomination hearing: well, we ought to accept him and make him Attorney General and see if he has changed. Well now you know, right? and thus...?
posted by Postroad at 2:45 PM on December 6, 2001


Postroad,
clarify: are you implying that the Left didn't oppose Ashcroft's nomination? They certainly did.

Are you trying to imply that Sen. Dodd is representative of the Left. He is certainly not.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:51 PM on December 6, 2001


wasn't there sort of an outcry over that in years to come?

Absolutely there was! And it got worse as time went on. Which was sort of my point - what's happening now isn't close to the internments, and the outcry is already happening, as is the checks from the other branches of government and public antipathy.

We have learned, Ray.
posted by UncleFes at 2:55 PM on December 6, 2001


Try to remember that the Ashcroft appointment was a sop to the religious right
Too right! If Sept 11th has shown us anything it has shown us the danger of religious extremism. Perhaps it's time to look at the hate and intolerance that is spread by the religious zealots here in the US. The "religious right" and he Bush Administration may be a good place to start. They have their right to worship in anyway they see fit, however, they shouldn't be able to use it as a guise to deny Americans their freedoms and liberties.
posted by Bag Man at 2:57 PM on December 6, 2001


jlachapell: I'm with you. I voted for Ashcroft in the senate race. ("Oh! he's a good guy! he just stands up for what he believes!" phooey. Next time I'll be better informed (instead of focusing so much on prez candidates :P))

After finals, i plan on writing up all the shit he's pulled in a comprehensive letter informing him that I'll not support him again for even Town Dogcatcher, and I'll be encouraging everyone i know to do the same.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:00 PM on December 6, 2001


The attorney general said the manual shows that terrorists are taught to manipulate the U.S. judicial system and news media to their advantage.

Big Tobacco (What cancer?)
Drug Companies (AIDS drugs? What about our pantents?)
Disney (Mickey Mouse in the PUBLIC DOMAIN? Better get our copyright extended.)

John Ashcroft (We need these powers. To argue would be damn un-American)
posted by rocketpup at 3:04 PM on December 6, 2001


I think the Daily Show put it best when they said a week or two ago (paraphrasing): "If there's one thing we've learned in America, it's that these terrorist attacks cannot take away our precious freedoms and our most sacred civil liberties. No, only Attorney General John Ashcroft can do that!"

To ripen the hypocrisy and silliness, despite these recent draconian measures, there is one area John Ashcroft is apparently a big believer in civil liberties never being encroached: gun ownership! This story from the NYT details how the FBI wanted to run a background check on the 1,200 folks detained after September 11th to see if any of them had purchased guns. Ashcroft and the Justice Department (not to be confused with Josie and the Pussycats) naturally refused this unreasonable request. It's heartening to know that even in these traumatic times, a man of integrity like John Ashcroft will not stand for horrific intrusions on our basic civil liberties.
posted by hincandenza at 3:15 PM on December 6, 2001


It is simply amazing to read this thread and encounter not one single fact regarding what "freedoms" have been lost. This borders on group think lemming behavior.

Above we find such authoritative references as to comedians and entertainment shows. The beaut was the question asking: "I'm just curious...are there any rational human beings in support of Ashcroft?"

Yes, I am here. Perhaps there are others.
posted by Real9 at 3:34 PM on December 6, 2001


since he was a Senator (still got like 40 votes against, so he wasn't a popular senator, apparently)

Not popular? What an understatement! He lost to a dead candidate!
posted by ilsa at 3:41 PM on December 6, 2001


It is simply amazing to read this thread and encounter not one single fact regarding what "freedoms" have been lost.

Well losing the right to trial by jury was certainly a bone of contention when congress questioned him. Granted that is Bush's call and not his, but he did take umbrage at the suggestion by congressional members that, that might not be such a good thing.

Then there's the right to know when law enforcement officials search our homes. Now they can just break in and leave without us knowing any different.

When a congressional representative asked him to at least agree to go back and make sure the hundreds (no make that thousands) of detainees were represented by attorneys, he replied with a mishmash that rivaled Clinton with something along the lines of we will make sure that everybody knows that we believe they are entitled to representation.

Speaking of that, how about allowing detainees to speak to their lawyer in private? That's been denied, and now authorities can eavesdrop on every conversation.

I think these things have already been covered so much in other treads that there isn't much point in trotting them all out, but there you go for a start of the liberties that have been lost. There are many others.
posted by willnot at 3:45 PM on December 6, 2001


This borders on group think lemming behavior.


A lot of the posters here are mefi regulars and we've been over Ashcroft's and DOJ's foibles many times. A nice itemized list with links would be nice, but it isn't required and this certainly isn't suggestive of groupthink.

Like I said we've been at it before many times. For a nice itemized list with links feel free to type "ashcroft" into the built-in search engine. Feel free to bring up the past issues, but you shouldn't go off about groupthink because of your own laziness and expectations of four page posts like Ashcroft was a newly discovered planet or something.
posted by skallas at 3:48 PM on December 6, 2001


Okay, real9:

How about military trials with low standards of admissibility of evidence; verdicts by majority rather than unanimity; no option of appeal; no choice of attorney; and the possibility that the entire trial is so secret its very existence could be denied by the government?

Besides, the mere statement those who question me side with the enemy is gross misconduct in itself.

Sorry so many of us agree on that.
posted by argybarg at 3:48 PM on December 6, 2001


Even someone who is a death penalty supporter such as myself sees something wrong with someone possibly being condemned to death with a "majority" (versus a unanimous verdict) in a "secret tribunal" under the Ashcroft Rules Of Justice.
posted by owillis at 3:53 PM on December 6, 2001


There was an excellent political cartoon in the Toronto Star about a week ago that pictured a Parent and Child walking along. The Child said to it's parent "If I don't get everything on my Christmas list then the terrorists have won".

I am amazed at useful terrorists are. Have an agenda you wish to push? Quick get a terrorist from iRANCOntro Inc. We ship anywhere. If you order now we will throw in some free Anthrax so you can ignore your mail and a special blank handbook on your new legal rights with Military Tribunals.

Is it just me or is life starting to resemble those bizarre witchcraft plots on Guiding Light? Has reality programming crossed over to programming reality? This would all be pretty funny if it weren't so scary
posted by srboisvert at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2001


What a shitty day. Ashcroft demands total aquesicence (or at least total quiet), Bush gets his Stalinist style trade deal in the House and Rumsfeld demands more blood. Taliban surrendered though, that’s good.

Rightly understood, democracy is an uproar — nothing quiet, orderly, or safe — and among all the American political viruses, candor is probably the one most necessary to the success of our shared enterprise; unless we try to tell one another the truth about what we know and think and see, we might as well amuse ourselves ... with Steven Spielberg movies. — Lewis Lapham
posted by raaka at 4:25 PM on December 6, 2001


real 9,
Whether or not the actions of Ashcroft's Justice Dept. constitue a real and lasting threat to civil liberties is another issue. i think this thread has to do with the fact that Ashcroft is trying to silence legitimate critics of his policies by calling them, essentially, fellow travelers.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:25 PM on December 6, 2001


real 9,
Whether or not the actions of Ashcroft's Justice Dept. constitue a real and lasting threat to civil liberties is another issue. i think this thread has to do with the fact that Ashcroft is trying to silence legitimate critics of his policies by calling them, essentially, fellow travelers.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:26 PM on December 6, 2001


Ashcroft Rules Of Justice.
Also: Jumbo shrimp being provided free for a price for all free inmates for a short time forever.

And now,
a short story:
History students in the future are going to look through the history book and curse the names of todays leaders. I can hear them saying:
"What the FUCK were they thinking back then? Why didn't anyone try to stop these morons?" The teacher will shrug and ask them not to blurt things out in the middle of class. They should have raised their hands.
Then (que action music)
commandos burst through the roof, firing 3 shots right into the teachers brain, then shoot the child who made the comment. A new teacher is quickly brought in, who begins to explain to the students that freedom has been abridged many times in the past, and it's always been restored and that they shouldn't worry, because America always pulls through, and besides, idealism has to be put away in the harsh reality of the world today. The teacher smiles and asks the students where they were at in the book before the terrorists in the class room had to be put on trail.
"We were talking about John Ashcroft" Said a student as a soldier of the Internal American Secret Police Force (IAmSAFE) glared at him.
"Ah, yes. You see, it had to be done for the good of the country"
"For the good of the country" The students chimed back.
"Good" The teacher remarked as he walked over to the map on the wall---

Actually, let me stop now, because the story is getting silly and ridiculous. I mean, Having a teacher replaced almost instantly? Bah! And Americans that actually pay attention and care? I am such a horrible writer. Nothing I write is ridiculous/satirical/clever enough. Reality keeps outdoing me. I should stop writing and do a useful hobby. Like reporting my neighbors to the Anti-American Commitee.
posted by fuq at 4:26 PM on December 6, 2001


and i really mean that.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:26 PM on December 6, 2001


So, if according to the Attorney (Grand Inquisitor) General those who question Government policy are aiding 'the terrorists', and...

... according to the executive order, those who are suspected of giving aid and comfort to accused terrorists can be prosecuted by the tribunals (not to mention being held indefinitely without charges, etc.)...

... I think we're all in trouble just for posting here. ::: hides :::
posted by SenshiNeko at 4:30 PM on December 6, 2001


what are we thinking?? (slaps head) what right have we to question the almightly intellect of one John Ashcroft?

"Charging taxpayers for new tennis courts and shredding the Constitution for confetti give new meaning to the term 'fog dog sports,'" Ashcroft said.
posted by shugashax at 4:41 PM on December 6, 2001


[blatant opinion] So, where we benefitted that Bush rather than Gore was in the White House [/blatant opinion]

You forgot your tags.
posted by rushmc at 4:55 PM on December 6, 2001


Good analysis in the Jurist of the provisions of the USA Patriot Act [an eye-popping acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”].
posted by ferris at 5:25 PM on December 6, 2001


I like the way Ashcroft accuses his critics of being "fear mongering" and then says....

One option is to call Sept. 11 a fluke and to live in a dream world that requires us to do nothing different, the other option is to fight back.

Terrorist operatives infiltrate our communities, plotting, planning and waiting to kill again...
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 5:39 PM on December 6, 2001


...just more "if you're not with us you're against us" crap.
posted by fleener at 6:19 PM on December 6, 2001


I was disturbed by his repeated implication that those worried about the rights of the detained were arguing for terrorists to have the same rights as regular citizens or aliens. It's up to the courts, not him, to determine which of them are terrorists.
posted by skyline at 6:32 PM on December 6, 2001


Real9, I think it's all perception. Live in a country where civil liberties are not a right nor privilege, see the US as a large, influential country, see that the US administration has become very keen to suspend civil rights (and start resembling your country of residence), and you will feel fearful for the future.

Did that make any sense?
posted by jetgrrl at 6:37 PM on December 6, 2001


What really yanks my chain is the idea that pre September 11, America at least had a slim chance of keeping Ashcroft in check. I realize I'm stating the obvious, but it seemed that the acts of determined radicals were just what was needed to start us down the slippery slope. Does John Ashcroft ever lie in bed and have the thought strike him that determined radicals are, well, determined. History shows that these types will always circumvent "the law" because they hold no regard for it. Ashcroft's actions, and the worse ones sure to follow, simply apply to everyone but those with nothing-to-lose.

Lashing out against opposing views? Seems John forgot how he got to his position in the first place. "I'm done taking a shit on you, I think I'll wipe my ass with the democratic process, America".

"You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"
-- Joseph Welch and Sen. Joseph McCarthy, 1954. Army-McCarthy Hearings.
posted by sharksandwich at 6:38 PM on December 6, 2001


Not only did the man lose to a dead man, he lost by a considerable margin. People would rather be represented by a dead man than be represented by Ashcroft. And it's not like anyone didn't know Mel Carnahan wasn't dead. It made national headlines (except maybe Fox News).
posted by benjh at 7:06 PM on December 6, 2001


real 9, here's a list of what John Ashcroft is up to:

-expanded power to eavesdrop on attorney-client conversations without meaningful judicial oversight, which undermines the right to legal counsel and the Fourth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution.

-support for the executive order on military tribunals that does not adhere to the standards of our own system of military justice or our civilian courts. The order as written provides powers that are in fact far more sweeping than administration officials have characterized them publicly. It allows secret tribunals to try, convict and execute suspects without any appeal to any court. And its language covers not only individuals captured on the battlefield but also 18 million non-citizen residents of America. This extremely broad order was issued without consultation with Congress.

-expanded use of power to detain individuals for extended periods of time without judicial oversight, and resistance to providing the public and Congress with important information about detainees, such as the reasons for and length of detention. Yesterday, People For the American Way Foundation and a number of other organizations filed suit against the Justice Department, challenging its refusal to release information about detainees under the Freedom of Information Act.

- seeking to question 5,000 Middle Eastern men living legally in the U.S., a tactic called problematic by former FBI officials. Oliver "Buck" Revell, former FBI executive assistant director and architect of the bureau’s anti-terrorism strategy in the 1980s, said this strategy "is not effective" and "really guts the values of our society, which you cannot allow the terrorists to do."

-potential revision of regulations regarding FBI surveillance of domestic religious and political groups, protections put in place after revelations about the abuses of the Hoover-era Cointelpro program.

--From People For The American Way
posted by sharksandwich at 7:06 PM on December 6, 2001


FYI, all the rights everyone is screaming about losing only apply to U.S. citizens. If you're here on a visa or you're a noncitizen overseas, the courts have given you some rights through case law. But the Constitution only applies to U.S. citizens. Get over yourselves.
posted by darren at 7:18 PM on December 6, 2001


That doesn't change the fact that he is just plain being an asshole.
posted by donkeymon at 7:46 PM on December 6, 2001


here's something to think about...

From the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 6.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

and people are surprised that the EU won't extradite...
it's depressing.
posted by rhyax at 8:31 PM on December 6, 2001


I find it funny that Real9 is accusing us of "group think lemming behavior" when Ashcroft, whom he/she supports, is condemning anyone and everyone who doesn't fall in line to his way of thought. Pot, kettle, etc...
posted by jpoulos at 8:33 PM on December 6, 2001


Which, darren, still leaves the question of detainees who are American citizens.
posted by skyline at 8:40 PM on December 6, 2001


Hmmmm. . . the one thing I haven't read in any post, newspaper article or . . . anywhere else is someone with an alternative that would provide an equal amount of security. I don't agree with everything Ashcroft is proposing but given the choice between the left and Ashcroft, I'll take Ashcroft.

For all of you quoting the UN charters and citing the EU's reluctance to extradite, the US gives far more latitude than is given credit for. I was, at one time, charged with risk and recovery (fraud prevention) at a company that had international operations. Most EU countries feel there is nothing wrong with refusing to sell, on credit, to people who live in neighborhoods with a high percentage of immigrants. Of course, in the US, that would be illegal. But we all put on these lefty-blinders when our socialist-leaning brethren openly discriminate against people based on nationality. The fact is, regardless of your isolated incidents, the US is the most liberal country in the world when it comes to immigrants and visa violators. Many of the things Ashcroft advocates are normal business for many of the countries the left likes to shine the "wouldn't the world be a more perfect place if we were just a little more like . . . " spotlight onto.
posted by billman at 12:38 AM on December 7, 2001


Forget about the Bush men having a Cold War, 1950s mindset. Now we've got Ashcroft, starring as King Louis XIV, back in the 1700s.

"L'État, c'est moi" and "It is legal because I wish it."
posted by LeLiLo at 12:54 AM on December 7, 2001


Lellio, I can't stop laughing. Cross-language jokes are the sure sign of intelligence. If you are against Ashcroft, your bilingulaism is surely enough to justify your position.
posted by billman at 1:26 AM on December 7, 2001


darren: what the hell crack are you smoking? The constitution applies to every human being inside the borders of the US.
posted by delmoi at 4:44 AM on December 7, 2001


"We need honest, reasoned debate, and not fear-mongering. To those . . . who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of goodwill to remain silent in the face of evil."

"Thus does the attorney general, John Ashcroft, characterize critics of his tactics in investigating terrorism and of the new authorities he has sought. Mr. Ashcroft's remarks were not off the cuff; he delivered them as part of his opening statement yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee." The Washington Post editorial The Ashcroft Smear concludes: "Congressional give and take over the administration's proposed anti-terrorism bill made it better; criticism of President Bush's overbroad order on military tribunals prompted the White House to clarify that it was planning a fairer process -- used in a more limited manner -- than the order itself allows. Mr. Ashcroft may not like the criticism. But his job is to defend dissent, not to use the moral authority of his office to discourage people from participating in one of the most fundamental obligations of citizenship."
posted by Carol Anne at 5:30 AM on December 7, 2001


the one thing I haven't read in any post, newspaper article or . . . anywhere else is someone with an alternative that would provide an equal amount of security.

Well, closing down the borders entirely and imposing martial law would do a lot towards making the country safer, billman. that doesn't make it right.

i'm amazed at how many--especially guys like you who are so proud of how you've fought to protect our rights--are eager to piss them away. I'd have a lot more respect for you if there was an ounce of consistency in your arguments.

given the choice between the left and Ashcroft, I'll take Ashcroft.

if your goal as protecting our way of life, and not lining up in a political camp, you'd have a lot more credibility. Ashcroft wipes his ass with the flag every day, but you're more concerned with coming off as a tough guy than protecting our liberties.
posted by jpoulos at 6:30 AM on December 7, 2001


Bush and Aschcroft both promised, in their Oaths of Office, to uphold and defend the Constitution and its principles. They are both in violation of that oath. Violation of that oath in a time of war, albeit an ambiguously-declared war, should be considered treasonous. The Consititution and B.O.R. are their orders (and that is only mildly metaphorical, mostly literal), and they aren't following orders. That is, at a minimum, insubordination.

This kind of behavior by our government is a more significant threat to the "American way of life" than terrorism.

I yearn for Constitutional tribunals, lead by We the People, to which Bush, Ashcroft, and other war criminals soiling the integrity of our government must answer.
posted by yesster at 6:46 AM on December 7, 2001


you're more concerned with coming off as a tough guy

Note: That came off sounding like a personal attack, and it wasn't. What I meant was that you are concerned with making sure the U.S. looks like a tough guy than with protecting constitutional rights.
posted by jpoulos at 7:05 AM on December 7, 2001


Rhyax, here's something more to think about:

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
Article 29 (3):
These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Meaning, you don't have rights if the UN decides it. All those nice rights you enumerated mean NOTHING contrary to the UNs purposes and principles, which can change with a vote...

I'm a conservative libertarian. I appreciate Bush in the White House over Gore, who was opposed to much of what I hold dear. But, Ashcroft is an idiot, and my letters to my Congress-critters are mailing today. Hand write those, btw -- they count for more.
posted by dwivian at 7:50 AM on December 7, 2001


billman:

98% of your post is irrelevant to the issue at hand. It may be true that leftists are naive about the semi-Socialist states of Europe -- but who had brought that up? What difference do their policies make to this debate? You clearly carry a specific irritation with a certain species of lazy-thinking liberal -- are you just looking for any venue in which to expose that irritation?

As for what-could-be-better, I think the legal system we've always had in place is sufficient. Despite Ashcroft's rather cliched apprehensions, I think public trials, with strict sealing of evidence justifiably considered sensitive, would work well enough. And, where appropriate, I would consider international courts of law to be fine. The U.S. could even have the moral authority to insist that they follow the same open and thorough standards we've used in our own terrorist trials.
posted by argybarg at 9:53 AM on December 7, 2001


The only thing I have to add to this discussion is this: If you are unhappy with Ashcroft's conduct (as well you should be), make sure you let your congresscritters know about it. From what I understand, there are a lot of them who feel as strongly about it as Leahy does but are afraid to speak up for fear of being accused of being "soft on terrorism" in the next election.

How sad it is that they're afraid of losing their jobs merely because they're DOING their jobs. Make sure they know you won't hold it against them. (and yes, I know they should have the fortitude to stand up for themselves regardless, but politics are politics)
posted by shauna at 10:04 AM on December 7, 2001


No, it does not mean you don't have rights if the UN decides, it means your rights can't be construed to go against the purpose of the UN. Which is currently:

"The purposes of the United Nations, as set forth in the Charter, are to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these ends."

Granted this purpose could change, the US bill of rights also is dependant on the constitution, and it also could change. Its not easy to change either however. They are both very good documents, and if either were followed in this situation I would be happy.
posted by rhyax at 10:40 AM on December 7, 2001


argybarg & jpoulos, I think the point of my argument may have been lost. My point was that:

1. We are in a state of war. Whether or not Congress has made a formal declaration does not negate that fact (ask most members of Congress if they think we are in a state of war and that should give you an indication of whether or not they would issue the declaration if it were proposed).

2. During times of war, it is not uncommn for people to sacrafice some civil liberties to support the war effort. Look back at any other time the US or any other nation has gone to war and this proves to be true. You cannot expect to be in a state of war and to have everything else go on business as usual.

3. Many of the people who attack Ashcroft do so by bringing up examples of european countries which is what I was addressing in my post. They are far from perfect and all things considered, the US has the most liberal policies towards non-citizens of almost any country in the world. To use Europe as a counter-example is a false argument. That was my point. Sorry if it came off as slanted but I hear people who use that as an argument without any firsthand knowledge so often that it has become somewhat of a sore point for me.

4. "closing down the borders entirely and imposing martial law". This is exactly the kind of thing I was attempting to address. What is a viable alternative to what Ashcroft is proposing? I don't mind considering other points of view but if the debate is Ashcroft's ideas or bashing Ashcroft, well that's not really a debate, is it? The American people demand security. How do you provide it? If your only thing to offer in a debate is a critique of Ashcroft's proposals, you aren't helping (which was another part of my frustration with the left that came through in my previous post). Like I said, and it's funny that this message was immediatly lost by everyone who responded, I don't agree with Ashcroft but nobody else is putting up viable alternatives that offer increased security. All I hear is Ashcroft bashing. Ashcroft is this, Ashcroft is that, blah, blah, blah. Please, I can make my own determination about Ashcroft (thank you) but if the choice is Ashcroft's plan or the non-existant plan from the left, it's a no-brainer. My post, perhaps poorly so, was an invitation to enlighten us with what our alternatives are.

5. I don't believe that the legal system is sufficient to handle terrorism and neither do you because as soon as those words left your keyboard you began putting qualifiers on them. The current legal system does not provide for sealed evidence. Nor does it provide for the use of international courts. So right off the bat, it's clear that something other than what exists needs to happen. What is it? Give the American people a choice. If the choice is Ashcroft or ???????????????, I, like many Americans will pick Ashcroft's proposal.

6. I am not eager to piss away my rights. I am eager to see our judicial system begin to consider the fact that the accused are not the only people with rights. Victims have rights, and if the victims are the collective population of this country, then we should be afforded rights under the law as well. So I am not ready to piss away my rights, I am instead, demanding my rights. I think it's a joke some of the legal bs that the police have to go through just to do their job. I think it's a joke how many criminals walk free because a search warrant says the house and the evidence is found on the porch and some judge determines that the porch is not part of the house. I am tired of seeing justice raped by high-paid lawyers who can take a guy caught on tape committing a crime and have a jury find him innocent. Much of what Ashcroft is proposing is not protected by the Constitution or the BOR but, instead, by the sometimes misguided opinions of the courts who did not (and could not) consider current circumstances.

So, if it sounded like my only argument was against the left, well, it's because I don't think the left is offering me any choice.
posted by billman at 11:05 AM on December 7, 2001


FYI, all the rights everyone is screaming about losing only apply to U.S. citizens. If you're here on a visa or you're a noncitizen overseas, the courts have given you some rights through case law. But the Constitution only applies to U.S. citizens. Get over yourselves.

Then why the hell do we [US] make such a big stink over other countries respect for human rights?

Get over yourself. This is a cope out. Whether someone is a US citizen or not shouldn't matter to a country that holds itself up as the standard of democracy. People have rights, not just U.S. citizens.
posted by terrapin at 11:09 AM on December 7, 2001


FYI, all the rights everyone is screaming about losing only apply to U.S. citizens. If you're here on a visa or you're a noncitizen overseas, the courts have given you some rights through case law. But the Constitution only applies to U.S. citizens. Get over yourselves.

Technically true, however most of the early arguments for establishing those rights as part of the Constitution were based on the principle that the rights were not a legal technicality, but "inalienable" or inherent in our status as human beings. In other words the Constitution was not in the business of creating rights, but in the business of forbidding the government from interfering with pre-existing rights. A government that failed to secure those rights was considered to be invalid and required immediate change even revolution.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:26 PM on December 7, 2001


FYI, all the rights everyone is screaming about losing only apply to U.S. citizens. If you're here on a visa or you're a noncitizen overseas, the courts have given you some rights through case law. But the Constitution only applies to U.S. citizens. Get over yourselves.

Technically true, however most of the early arguments for establishing those rights as part of the Constitution were based on the principle that the rights were not a legal technicality, but "inalienable" or inherent in our status as human beings. In other words the Constitution was not in the business of creating rights, but in the business of forbidding the government from interfering with pre-existing rights. A government that failed to secure those rights was considered to be invalid and required immediate change even revolution.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:26 PM on December 7, 2001


With 2. During times of war, it is not uncommn for people to sacrafice some civil liberties to support the war effort. Look back at any other time the US or any other nation has gone to war and this proves to be true. You cannot expect to be in a state of war and to have everything else go on business as usual.

Well again, those rights are defined as inalienable. They cannot be sacrificed or abridged if the government is to remain a valid entity. The right to a fair trial is not something that is granted by the Constitution or the courts, it is a fundamental human right. If the government declines to recognize that right, then certainly it is in a state of war, a state of war against its own people.

As for alternatives, I'm having a very hard time understanding how imprisoning a ridiculously large number of individuals, for unspecified crimes, for an unspecified amount of time, sentenced, tried, and convicted in secrecy is advancing national security. Certainly the legal system of Saudi Arabia and Iran demonstrates that you can have security and safety through the use of such tactics. However one of the differences between America and the dictatorship is the idea that the right to a fair trial is inalienable and not something that can only be granted when it is convenient for the government or for cowards.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:45 PM on December 7, 2001


Justice Dept. Blasts Reports on Ashcroft Hearing

Let's summarize:
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:55 PM on December 7, 2001


Technically true, however most of the early arguments for establishing those rights as part of the Constitution were based on the principle that the rights were not a legal technicality, but "inalienable" or inherent in our status as human beings. In other words the Constitution was not in the business of creating rights, but in the business of forbidding the government from interfering with pre-existing rights.

Kirk: Allow me to be faintly amused that you, of all people, are now making an argument based on Natural Rights theory. You and I both know that you don't believe a word of that. (Although, to your credit, you did use the past tense).
posted by gd779 at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2001


Kirk: Allow me to be faintly amused that you, of all people, are now making an argument based on Natural Rights theory. You and I both know that you don't believe a word of that. (Although, to your credit, you did use the past tense).

I certainly believe in the idea of that rights are nonnegotiable, belong to all human beings, and at the role of government is to prevent those rights from being abridged. What I don't believe in is that those rights are only the privilege granted by a nonexisting God as a law giver or creator of humans as a special entity.

At any rate, to invoke the pragmatic maxim the answer is the same no matter what rationale used for it. If you want to use a natural law or even the divine law framework, then you have to acknowledge that noncitizens have rights independent of the Constitution. If you want to go from a social constructionist or even a Pragmatist framework you reach the same result because a government that refuses to treat all individuals fairly in the eyes of law is probably not one worth living in.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:57 PM on December 7, 2001


Mullah Ashcroft, as portrayed by Pat Oliphant.
posted by Carol Anne at 8:37 AM on December 8, 2001


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