November 19, 2002
THE GENERAL ON THE MARCH:Ruling a victory for Ashcroft (CURT ANDERSON, November 19, 2002, Chicago Sun-Times)
Attorney General John Ashcroft said the ruling by a specially appointed three-judge review panel will give the Justice Department expanded surveillance powers under the USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks.
It was the first time the appeals panel had overturned a ruling by the ultra-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which had sought to impose restrictions on how and when surveillance authority could be used to track foreign agents.
A key part of the ruling removes legal barriers between FBI and Justice Department intelligence investigators and prosecutors and law enforcement personnel.
The ruling, Ashcroft told reporters, ''revolutionizes our ability to investigate terrorists and prosecute terrorist acts.''
But the American Civil Liberties Union and several other groups contend the ruling will harm free speech and due process protections by giving the government far greater ability to listen to telephone conversations, read e-mail and search private property.
''We are deeply disappointed with the decision, which suggests that this special court exists only to rubber-stamp government applications for intrusive surveillance warrants,'' said Ann Beeson, who argued the case for the ACLU.
It's hard to take "civil libertarians" seriously these days when they keep referring to John Ashcroft as wanting to shred the Constitution, but the Courts keep saying he's right. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2002 2:36 PM