Ashcroft's Creative Uses of Increased Powers
Just in time to quiet any fears that he might be abusing the extended powers given to him by the Patriot Act, a story today
details how, despite almost nothing being done to make the US safer from terrorism, the Justice Department and prosecutors across the US have been stretching the law to use the Act against common criminals simply in order to simplify cases and get around rights provisions they would otherwise have to honor. A few examples:
Federal prosecutors used the act in June to file a charge of "terrorism using a weapon of mass destruction" against a California man after a pipe bomb exploded in his lap, wounding him as he sat in his car.
A North Carolina county prosecutor charged a man accused of running a methamphetamine lab with breaking a new state law barring the manufacture of chemical weapons. If convicted, Martin Dwayne Miller could get 12 years to life in prison for a crime that usually brings about six months.
Prosecutor Jerry Wilson says he isn't abusing the law, which defines chemical weapons of mass destruction as "any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury" and contains toxic chemicals.
Civil liberties and legal defense groups are bothered by the string of cases, and say the government soon will be routinely using harsh anti-terrorism laws against run-of-the-mill lawbreakers.
"Within six months of passing the Patriot Act, the Justice Department was conducting seminars on how to stretch the new wiretapping provisions to extend them beyond terror cases," said Dan Dodson, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. "They say they want the Patriot Act to fight terrorism, then, within six months, they are teaching their people how to use it on ordinary citizens."
So much for any notion that Ashcroft is someone who can be trusted with these extra powers. This makes it more obvious that the Bush administration could give a flying fuck about terrorism. What they used 9/11 for was simply as an opportunity to get a blank check on anything they wanted. That means they got their war in Iraq, and also that means they have taken Nixonian liberties with civil rights.
Granted, meth manufacture is not something that should be condoned, but if they're willing--indeed, eager--to use the powers this loosely, what's to stop them from using it against simple dissent? And indeed, one can see them practicing for that day. Truth be told, I don't think they ever wanted these powers for any other purpose than to simply streamline their ability to prosecute any crime any way they damn well want. And even possibly soon to prosecute things that, in America, aren't crimes at all.
Of course, there are ways to turn this back upon them. If a meth lab is a "chemical weapons lab"(and with that loose a definition it's no wonder the Bush administration makes such bold claims about those pitiful tractor-trailers in Iraq) because the chemicals manufactured there cause harm, there's more than a few polluting industrialists who fit that definition, like as an example the notorious Tosco refinery in Richmond, CA which regularly dumps dioxins into the San Francisco Bay. Or the government itself, for lying to New Yorkers about the condition of the air in Manhattan following the WTC collapse just to get Wall Street running again as quickly as possible.
But it's doubtful anything might come of that
idea, as liberals aren't nearly as good at misuse of laws as conservatives are.
Hope you're all happy you handed your God-given freedoms over to this trustworthy administration. By that logic, I suppose you'd allow John Wayne Gacy to babysit your children, nation of sheep.