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Turn Up The Power

Ashcroft marches on

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Attorney General John Ashcroft kicked off his Victory Tour last week in support of his beloved but beleaguered Patriot Act, which is facing increasing bipartisan criticism. Rather than backing down, Ashcroft is instead lobbying for increased unchecked powers in the form of the soon to be introduced Victory Act (Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act of 2003). Among other things (such as changing the spelling of victory to victoa), it will seek to expand the War on Terror into "narco-terrorism," a further step toward legally redefining a terrorist as anyone whom Ashcroft thinks God has told him is a terrorist, which as we all know includes marijuana smokers.

Despite the security the original Patriot Act has brought to law abiding Americans, New York's JFK Airport faced a close call on August 10. Twenty-one-year-old Joel Phaggoo and two 13-year old companions were fishing in Jamaica Bay when winds from an approaching storm pushed their inflatable raft ashore at the airport. They then walked unchallenged along busy JFK runways for an hour -- only a couple of hundred feet from aircraft that were landing, taking off, and taxiing -- without raising alarms while they searched for help. They eventually found a police garage where they knocked on the door and explained what happened to somewhat surprised and startled Port Authority officers.

This temporarily raised the terror alert level at the airport to Code "Rusty Tangerine" but it returned to "sort of Goldenrod" when, after being threatened with deportation to Guantanamo Bay, the anglers admitted that "no one other than themselves had baited their hooks and their poles had never left their possession." They were released after taking off their shoes.

Adding more unchecked, intrusive power to the Department of Justice would have obviously prevented this incident. This is a better approach than, say, increasing funding for short-changed existing programs like airport patrols, air marshals, and local civil defense agencies. Besides, law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from this new legislation. According to Ashcroft, "All of this has been done within the safeguards of our Constitution, and the guarantees that our Constitution provides, protecting American freedom."

Incidentally, according to Reuters, the Department of Justice disclosed in court recently that it had neither an exact count nor all the names of hundreds of people being detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Government attorneys insist that the people being held there, whoever they are, are all dangerous individuals with connections to terrorists. It also insists that these people do not have legal rights guaranteed under the US Constitution since they are being held on foreign soil.

Luckily for us, God and Ashcroft are on our side. It's only those ornery terrorists who have anything to worry about.

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