August 11, 2003
Re "U.S. Indicts Porn Sellers, Vowing Extensive Attack" and "Ashcroft Objects to Lenient Jurists," Aug. 8: Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft must be quite bored. How wonderful that Al Qaeda is a distant memory, the anthrax attacks in the U.S. are wrapped up, that the Department of Homeland Security has closed shop because of the arrests of all terrorists posing a domestic threat to the U.S. and that Saudi links to the World Trade Center attacks have been exposed to a grateful nation. Why else would Ashcroft be directing the full weight of the U.S. Justice Department against a couple of adult video distributors, toward crafting a "hit list" targeting U.S. judges who aren't as draconian as he'd like or launching attacks on medical marijuana proponents, who, it should be noted, are helping terminally ill patients under the auspices of California law. Things must be very quiet around the offices of the attorney general of the United States for them to be focusing on such poppycock.
May 31, 2003
Re "Power, Ever More Power," editorial, May 25: You ruined my breakfast this morning! I realize more and more that what we Americans prize above all, our freedom and privacy, will no longer be part of our daily lives. President Bush and his band of anti-freedom fighters are as insidious as they are dangerous. Bush, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney would like to transform this country into a place where Christians are the only ones with the righteous answers, where the government can arrest anyone at any time without having to explain anything, where invasion wars are the only way to more oil and where big companies get even richer by getting all the contracts promised to them in advance by their former chief executives (read Rumsfeld and Cheney)
May 30, 2003
Re "Court Gives Leeway to Interrogate," May 28: This Supreme Court decision clearly undercuts the Miranda decision and was fueled by the right-wing ideology that pervades our executive branch and our deliberative bodies. The stacking of the Supreme Court is nearly complete now, the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been relegated to the trash bin and, sadly, most Americans are too self-absorbed to notice or even care. The only thing that cuts through that haze is the vitriolic campaign of hate that seems to have taken over the airwaves.
April 22, 2003
Re "Restoring a Treasured Past," editorial, April 17: The Times rightly editorializes on the "cultural catastrophe" of the destruction of the Iraq National Museum, yet weakly concludes that "the real blame lies with the looters themselves." Really? Protection always involves an imbalance of force. The United States' invasion upset that relationship. A tank and a few Marines, as Christopher Knight writes in "A cultural casualty of war" (Calendar, April 18), could have protected at trivial cost what the FBI now unrealistically promises to "fix" at huge taxpayer expenditure.
March 2, 2003
Re "Justices Side With Antiabortion Groups," Feb. 27: Both the antiabortion crowd and the abortion-rights crowd should rejoice in the strict interpretation by the Supreme Court in its ruling on the racketeering act known as RICO. The use of RICO for any conduct other than what it was meant to prevent opens all of us to abuse by the federal government or powerful plaintiffs. As the assault on our liberties by Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and the Bush administration continues, we should celebrate this one small step to hold back the forces that are trying to destroy those liberties given to us by the Bill of Rights.
February 21, 2003
Congratulations to The Times for publishing "An Overzealous Patriot" (editorial, Feb. 14) exposing Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and his shocking new directives. Until now, it seemed that everyone except columnists Jonathan Turley, Jack Balkin and me were accepting everything Ashcroft said and did as God's will. Granted, we live in a unique and very often dangerous time in our nation's history, but this certainly is no excuse for stripping every American citizen of his or her basic rights as defined in our Constitution.
February 18, 2003
Re "Juries Should Leave Lawmaking to the Lawmakers," Commentary, Feb. 13: Norah Vincent clearly doesn't understand what the founding fathers understood so well -- that government is liable to make all sorts of abusive and bad laws. That's why they specifically left in place a procedure (jury trial) that could have 12 of your neighbors (supposedly reasonable people) sit around and go: "Hey, wait a minute. This is silly. Let's use a little common sense here." With Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and the Bush administration trampling on the Constitution and suspending our rights piece by piece, jury nullification may turn out to be one of the few weapons we have to fight back with.
January 15, 2003
Re "U.S.-Born Talib Can Be Denied Trial, Court Says," Jan. 9: The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that gives President Bush the right to hold a U.S. citizen incommunicado indefinitely, without bringing charges and without the right to a trial, is frightening. While Yaser Esam Hamdi may well be an "enemy combatant," the label alone does not determine his situation. In view of Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's indictment of lawyer Lynne Stewart last April, one wonders if U.S. citizens will necessarily have to be captured on foreign soil to fall into a no-man's land without rights, where the words "U.S.
November 30, 2002
On Monday the president and Congress patted themselves on the back for creating the Department of Homeland Security, a glorified shuffling of the federal bureaucracy ("Homeland Agency Is Big at Birth," Nov. 26). In signing the bill creating the "new" department, President Bush said that its responsibilities would include analyzing possible terrorist threats, monitoring noncitizens traveling inside the U.S. and gathering information to protect U.S. citizens from global hate groups. Isn't this an admission that the FBI, CIA and Immigration and Naturalization Service, among other federal intelligence agencies, have failed miserably in doing their jobs?