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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

No Life or Liberty in USA Patriot Act

August 30, 2003

It's a bitter irony that Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's Justice Department is touting his freedom-depriving coup, the USA Patriot Act (Aug. 20), at the Web site www.lifeandliberty.gov. The Patriot Act goes so far in gutting the liberties guaranteed to Americans under the Bill of Rights -- removing protections against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to due process under the law, the right to a speedy trial (ask anyone at Guantanamo) -- that the surgical tool used might as well have been a machete.

Life and liberty? The intentions of the Patriot Act's writers seem so brazen that I'm a little surprised that the Web site's header doesn't read: "That's all behind us now."

Stephen J. Smith

Los Angeles

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