Originally posted by NY Times@ Feb 8
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 â€” A storm of liberal criticism erupted today over a Justice Department draft of legislation to increase the law enforcement powers it won in 2001 in the U.S.A. Patriot Act.
Although a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Barbara Comstock, insisted that the draft represented nothing more than staff discussions, copies were sent to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and to Vice President Dick Cheney in his capacity as president of the Senate.
The 80-page draft, marked "Confidential â€” Not for Distribution Draft Jan. 9, 2003," was posted in midafternoon on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, www.publicintegrity.org/dtaweb/home.asp. It was quickly scrutinized and denounced by the American Civil Liberties Union and Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
These are some of the major proposals in the draft:
Â¶Invalidate state legal consent decrees that seek to curb police spying. The authors argued such orders could hinder terrorism investigations.
Â¶Eliminate the requirement that the attorney general personally has to authorize using certain intelligence evidence in a criminal case, permitting him to designate an assistant attorney general to make such authorizations.
Â¶Allow the collection of DNA samples by "such means as are reasonably necessary" from suspected terrorists being held by federal authorities. Failing to cooperate would be a crime.
Â¶Flatly bar Freedom of Information Act efforts to gain information about detainees, because litigation over such issues costs the Justice Department resources.
Â¶Allow citizenship to be stripped from people who support groups that the United States considers terrorist organizations.
Mr. Conyers said: "This draft bill constitutes yet another egregious blow to our citizens' civil liberties. Among other things, the Bush administration now wants to imprison suspects before they are tried and create DNA databases of lawful residents who have committed no crime."
The associate director of the national office of the A.C.L.U., Gregory T. Nojeim, said:
"The initial U.S.A. Patriot Act undercut many of the traditional checks and balances on government power. The new Ashcroft proposal threatens to fundamentally alter the constitutional protections that allow us to be both safe and free."
Ms. Comstock's statement did not disavow the document, though she said no final proposals had even been sent to the attorney general.
"We are continually considering antiterrorism measures and would be derelict if we were not doing so," she said. "The department's deliberations are always undertaken with the strongest commitment to our Constitution and civil liberties."
Exactly how receptive Congress will be to whatever proposal the administration makes is uncertain. Democrats and Republicans on both Judiciary Committees have complained that the Justice Department was withholding information on how the 2001 law was being applied and whether changes were needed.
"Wow", is about all I can say. How far do they (the current administration) have to go before someone takes them to court for violating a citizen's constitutional rights?
Sorry about posting the entire article, but you have to register to see old articles.