U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has been on a whirlwind public relations tour of 18 cities, hoping to counter growing opposition to the so- called Patriot Act, a 342-page law rushed through Congress, without debate, within weeks of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Ashcroft says that just “editorial boards and others who are very liberal” are worried about the new law. He only wishes that were true. Three states and 160 communities have passed resolutions either condemning the law or refusing to help federal agents enforce its provisions.
Some members of Congress, moreover, have grown increasingly worried because Ashcroft has repeatedly refused to answer questions about how the Department of Justice is implementing the Patriot Act. In July, the House voted — by 309 to 118 — to repeal a provision of the law that allowed officials to conduct “sneak and peak” searches of suspects’ homes without notifying the target…
In the wake of Sept. 11, everyone agrees that the government must balance our civil rights against its responsibility to protect us against terrorism. The Patriot Act went too far. It’s time for Congress to reassess the expanded law-enforcement powers it so readily approved in a moment of national trauma.