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THE NATION

NAACP Says Bush Fails on Civil Rights

July 08, 2002|From Associated Press

HOUSTON — NAACP board Chairman Julian Bond criticized the Bush administration, saying it had failed to enforce civil rights laws, and he denounced the FBI's use of increased surveillance powers in fighting terrorism.

"We have a president who owes his election more to a dynasty than to democracy," Bond told about 3,000 people at the 93rd annual convention of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

Two years ago, President Bush "promised to enforce the civil rights laws," Bond said. "We knew he was in the oil business--we just didn't know it was snake oil."

It was the second straight year Bond has assailed the Bush administration's record.

Bush addressed the convention as a presidential candidate in 2000, but has declined a written invitation from NAACP President Kweisi Mfume for the last two years.

"The president is focused on bringing people together and uniting the nation," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan.

"We're very proud of the administration's record of vigorous enforcement of our civil rights laws."

Bond particularly attacked Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, whom he called "a cross between" former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

He also denounced post-Sept. 11 backlash attacks on people who look Arab or Muslim. "The CIA and FBI kept files on me in the 1960s; they may be keeping files on me today," Bond said. "Now, under the guise of fighting terrorism, the FBI is going back to spying on law-abiding citizens."

As he did last year, Bond referred to the disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

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