On the Public's Right to Know
January 8, 2002 11:14 AM   Subscribe

On the Public's Right to Know or another reason why I hate John Ashcroft.
posted by zedzebedia (25 comments total)

 
i have been wondering lately how things would be different if ashcroft and bush were not in office. i think as a whole there would still be some freedoms removed (support for most of these positions passed through congress seem to mostly be bipartisan in approval), i would still like to believe we would be a little better off with democratic leaders only considering respect for our civil liberties. then again, i think we'd be much better off if only bush had chosen someone whom i think is more sensible than ashcroft.
posted by moz at 11:25 AM on January 8, 2002


I am not sure why Moz feels that Ashcroft did what he did but had Bush appointed someone else this would not have taken place. Bush I am convinced is in full agreement--he operates in secret as has been noted many times. And after all he is the guy in charge.
FOI is, from myh personal experience, a fake in many cases. Often you get told that you can't have this or that for reasons of "national security."
Also slipping under radar: the driver licences that will be coordinated throught the states and which will have all sorts of stuff embedded making it a national id card though there will be no bill passed in Congress calling for a national id card. How many people don;t have a driver's license?
posted by Postroad at 11:31 AM on January 8, 2002


postroad:

i believe ashcroft can take his own initiative. i believe not all the things he does originates at the top -- that isn't to say that they aren't approved by bush, but they may not be implemented if it were not for ashcroft. i don't think that's out-of-line to consider, but i suppose to each their own opinions.
posted by moz at 11:35 AM on January 8, 2002


grrr...
posted by kahboom at 12:23 PM on January 8, 2002


Gee... Is there any question that bush isn't pushing these kind of changes through to protect his father's and cabinet member's corruption during previous administrations?
posted by Neb at 12:31 PM on January 8, 2002


Y'all are witnessing the end of America. The end of the dream of the founding fathers. It's a re-make of The Fall of Rome, with that unique, Hollywood, America-centric style that's so popular these days.

Citizens don't need rights or freedoms. Citizens need to do two things: go to work like good little wage-slaves, and purchase consumer products like good little clones. Don't question. Don't agitate. Don't think. When you're not at work or out shopping, stay at home and watch TV. Stay passive. Stay ignorant. Don't rock the boat.

Leave the thinking and controlling to the Important People. The politicians. The CEOs. The super-rich. The well-connected. The two-dozen Superiors who control 90% of the wealth, 80% of business, and who want to control 100% of your life.

Shhhh.

It's 2002, eighteen years too late. Be quiet. Be obedient. It's a brave new world.

Welcome to America.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:36 PM on January 8, 2002


Mox: I agree withyou. My point is that Bush must become aware at some time of what his appointees are doing, I hope, though I have some suspicions about this too, and if he felt Ashcroft was out of line, I am convinced he would have stopped him. After all, all presidents have advisors and laywers and folks who work behind the scenes and give advice etc on what is going on in all departments of the government and those in charge of offices. For example: there seems to be a battle going on between the Hawks and the Doves as to Iraq as a target. Who decides? Who advises?
The mainpoint of course is that be it Ashcroft or Bush or a combo or simply one of the two, there has been a consistent move toward more and more secrecy and fewer and fewer "rights," and this has been going on since Bush took office, before 9/11.
posted by Postroad at 12:43 PM on January 8, 2002


Y'all are witnessing the end of America. The end of the dream of the founding fathers.
Don't be so dramatic, that happened back in 33. This may be the begining of the end of America 2 however.
posted by thirteen at 12:47 PM on January 8, 2002


The Bush Administration is very secretive about government activity. That's why GWB himself signed Executive Order 13233 to block access to presidential papers, and why they invoked executive privilege rather than turn over to Congress documents about the FBI looking the other way when Boston mob informants committed crimes.

While I'm pleased about GWB's response to 9/11 internationally, I'm horrified at some of things his administration wants to do domestically.
posted by pmurray63 at 12:52 PM on January 8, 2002


Write to your congressman. Write to the white house. Maybe try a senator or two while you're at it. Or maybe the ACLU could use some help.

Yes, this is a disaster. Yes, Ashcroft is an unbelievably arrogant totalitarian. But they're only doing it because they think they can get away with it because people aren't paying attention. And the only way to let them know that people are paying attention is to bloody well let them know you're paying attention. Complaining about it on MeFi helps exactly no-one.
posted by ook at 12:58 PM on January 8, 2002


Emperor Asscrotch says...
posted by blackholebrain at 1:08 PM on January 8, 2002


I take it back. Don't write to anybody.
posted by ook at 1:12 PM on January 8, 2002


Write to your congressman. Write to the white house. Maybe try a senator or two while you're at it. Or maybe the ACLU could use some help.

Well, I've done #s 1, 3 and 4 (wouldn't waste my time with #2), but I don't expect the gutless wonders who represent me in Congress to say "boo" about this.

A powerful executive branch which can operate outside of the ordinary rule of law with no public oversight, with a rubber-stamp legislature and a stacked court is a dictatorship, plain and simple, "benevolent" or otherwise.
posted by briank at 1:22 PM on January 8, 2002


Well, I've done #s 1, 3 and 4 (wouldn't waste my time with #2), but I don't expect the gutless wonders who represent me in Congress to say "boo" about this.

Gutless politicians are exactly what I want -- it's the ones with strong opinions of their own who're dangerous. :)

Seriously: they've got to figure that every letter they get translates to 100 or so voters who feel the same way but are too lazy to write in (which translates to 1000 or so people who feel the same but are too lazy to even vote, and who therefore don't count at all.) So if they get enough letters maybe they'll, y'know, represent the will of the electorate, or something wild and crazy like that.
posted by ook at 1:36 PM on January 8, 2002


I'm truely scared about this. Maybe I'm over reacting but I have a teenage son and he will be living in a world that I won't recognize and so will his children. I don't know what to do, but I'm going to have to do something. The American people need to pull the flag off their faces now and take a look at what is going on.
posted by bas67 at 1:42 PM on January 8, 2002


Too bad many civil libertarians have already blown their loads over Bushcroft's moves toward martial law; here's something worth getting worked up over. The Attorney General has essentially told his (our) employees to disregard the law. What was it that Henry Hyde was saying about being "a nation of laws, not of men"?
posted by Ty Webb at 1:56 PM on January 8, 2002


after enough nonsense like this, people are going to start remembering what the 2nd amendment is REALLY for. i know i am.
posted by phalkin at 2:04 PM on January 8, 2002


phalkin:

i don't think guns are going to help.
posted by moz at 2:15 PM on January 8, 2002


From the article:

Somehow, this memo never surfaced. When coupled with President Bush's Nov. 1 executive order that allows him to seal all presidential records since 1980, the effect is positively chilling.

While I detest Ashcroft's action, the San Francisco Chronicle needs to open its eyes: there's no evidence of a cover-up. This was not a secret action (which is perhaps even more depressing: he was pretty sure he could get away with it).

The original memo is on the Department of Justice site.

The Federation of American Scientists covered it in October and November.

Newsday ran a story on it that was picked up by other papers, including the Chicago Tribune, in October.

The Seattle Times had an article in December.

Mention was made of it in testimony concerning the detention of non-citizens before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

The ACLU gave testimony about it before the same committee in December.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:18 PM on January 8, 2002


There's some questionable coverage going on here. Mo Nickels produces a lot of ammunition above to counter the paranoia the Chronicle reporter is trying to produce, but there's more:

The FOIA came into effect in 1967, and not 1974 as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

There was some expansion of the FOIA when the Privacy Act of 1974 was established, but the following statement from the article is just plain wrong:

Passed in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the Freedom of Information Act has been hailed as one of our greatest democratic reforms.

It is standard operating procedure for a new administration to issue memos. After they finished replacing all of the w's on the keyboards that the outgoing administration snatched, they set to typing.

The Department of Justice Office of Information and Privacy has a page called FOIA Update, which contains information on previous changes (1979 - 2000) to the FOIA, whether by judicial action, or by executive interpretation. Looking there, you'll see many memos defining the FOIA which never had press conferences on their behalf.

Most other Attorneys General have issued a memo on interpreting the FOIA for the executive branch. What might have been news would have been if Ashcroft hadn't.

We really can't tell if the FOIA has been "quashed" by Ashcroft's interpretation of the FOIA until someone is denied a request, and the denial is litigated.
posted by bragadocchio at 3:24 PM on January 8, 2002


Ah we love ya, we know whats best for you, just trust, everything will be alright. I can't stand threads with ashcroft in the topic line makes me want to throw things at my computer. What a ............................. he is.
posted by onegoodmove at 3:25 PM on January 8, 2002


"every letter they get translates to 100 or so voters who feel the same way but are too lazy to write in (which translates to 1000 or so people who feel the same but are too lazy to even vote" --Well noted, ook.

I also saw someone mention that whining on MeFi won't solve the problem.
While this is certainly true, I would hope that those who post here would see how terribly important these issues are, and would do their best to spread the word far and wide. If there are 13,000 members of MeFi, and each of us is able to influence two other people to write their congressional representatives then we've effectively sent the message that there are hundreds and thousands of us out here that are concerned (going by ook's 1 letter represents 100 opinions formula).

This may be optomistic still, but it beats the hell out of sitting on one's hands and wishing that this ride would stop. If there was ever a reason to make use of the right to Freedom of Speech, John Ashcroft is it.
posted by jack-o at 3:39 PM on January 8, 2002


This was not a secret action (which is perhaps even more depressing: he was pretty sure he could get away with it).

Indeed. Civil libertarians are cheered by recent polls suggesting that the American public is growing more skeptical about the domestic war on terrorism. I'm sorry, but the fact that a slim majority expresses concern that the war could end up restricting civil liberties -- and a mere 18 percent say they're "very" concerned -- isn't cause for great optimism.

Sadly, given the choice, too many of our neighbors would willingly trade their freedom for even the illusory promise of security.
posted by nathanstack at 3:39 PM on January 8, 2002


Not all senators are gutless wonders. Go Russ!
posted by mrbula at 4:02 PM on January 8, 2002


There are so many reasons to hate Ashcroft. Thanks for another.

I write senators, mayors, representatives, and the president all the time. However, are they even getting mail now?
posted by aacheson at 5:12 PM on January 8, 2002


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