Monday, December 08, 2003

By only 29 pages into the 176-page (159-page if you don't count the bibliography) The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance, I was convinced that every American old enough to read should read this book. It shows how unpatriotic the so-called Patriot Act really is, making a good case that it goes against everything the founders of the United States intended in the U.S. Constitution and particularly the Bill of Rights, and gives the opinions of both current Republican and Democratic politicians on the erosion of fundamental American liberties caused by this supposed anti-terrorism measure (passed a month after September 11, 2001, when it was a rare Congressperson who dared vote against anything labeled "anti-terrorism," if they'd even had a chance to read the proposed legislation through). Nat Hentoff's tone is not anti-Republican or even anti-Bush so much as anti-John Ashcroft, the Attorney General who seems to want to return the American government's investigation tactics to those practiced by J. Edgar Hoover. Ashcroft's 2002 guidelines for the Department of Justice include such scary thought policing as "The nature of the conduct engaged in by a [terrorist] enterprise will justify the inference at the standard [for opening a criminal intelligence investigation] is satisfied, even if there are no known statements by participants that advocate or indicate planning for violence or other prohibited acts." So, he's encouraging investigation of organizations that have never advocated or planned violence, based on what -- a Oujia board? This is not fighting to preserve American freedoms; this is chipping away at them until only a shell eventually remains. Terror from outside the U.S. will be replaced by terror from the government of the U.S.

No matter what your political views, you should be aware of what government is doing and make your views known if you do not agree with it. (As Thomas Jefferson said in the quotation used at The War on the Bill of Rights' beginning, "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive...") This book will help with anyone's awareness of what is happening; whether or not you agree with the Bush Administration's other actions, you may find something in here that bothers you.