ACLU Targets Attorney General's Insatiable Appetite for New Powers With New Full-Page Ads in Washington Times and New York Times

February 25, 2003 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today targeted Attorney General John Ashcroft’s continuing push for expanded surveillance and intelligence gathering powers with a new full-page newspaper advertisement in this morning’s Washington Times and New York Times.

“Americans of all ideological stripes – right, center and left – are up in arms about the unnecessary and intrusive powers being pushed for by John Ashcroft’s Justice Department,” said Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “This new advertisement highlights the serious concerns shared by an unlikely alliance that includes groups and individuals as ideologically disparate as the ACLU and well-known conservative Bob Barr.”

The ad describes examples of the slew of new intelligence gathering and law enforcement powers either asserted unilaterally by the Administration or granted to the President by Congress since September 11, 2001. It also warns against the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, the Department of Justice’s follow-up wish list of expanded powers not granted in the original USA PATRIOT Act.

The ACLU said that Americans of all political stripes are becoming increasingly galvanized in opposition to the Justice Department’s overreach for sweeping new powers. Such opposition was demonstrated by the success of a right-left coalition of groups, which included the ACLU and the Eagle Forum, against the Total Information Awareness cyber-surveillance scheme, which Congress severely limited in the just-approved 2003 appropriations bill.

The new ad points to many provisions in Ashcroft’s new proposal that will likely engender similar conservative opposition to the over-centralization of power in the Executive branch.

For example, Ashcroft’s proposals include broader wiretapping authority; reprise the Operation TIPS program by granting broader immunity to private businesses that phone in fake terrorist tips and allow the President the sole power to strip Americans’ citizenship if they are found to have supported organizations deemed “terrorist” by the Administration, even if they know nothing about alleged links to terrorism.

The new ad is part of the “Keep America Safe and Free” coordinated campaign at the ACLU, a $3.5 million initiative aimed at rolling back repressive federal policies implemented since 9-11. Earlier this month, the ACLU ran another hard-hitting advertisement depicting the Ashcroft as an extremist “editor” of the Bill of Rights.

The new ad can be viewed at: /node/22785.

More information about the ACLU’s Safe and Free Campaign can be seen online at:

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