Saturday, February 22, 2003; Page A24
Could anything be more ironic than the juxtaposition of two short news items in the Feb.11 Washington in Brief regarding threats to civil liberties?
The United States yesterday "urged China not to use the war on terrorism to crack down on political dissent." At the same time, Attorney General John Ashcroft plans to push for legislation to "prohibit disclosure of information regarding people detained as terrorist suspects," "force suspects to prove why they should be released on bail" and "allow the deportation of U.S. citizens who join or aid terrorist groups." This last would apply even to those who may have unknowingly made a contribution to an organization later determined by the attorney general to be a terrorist group.
According to a report by Bill Moyers, the Justice Department had not planned to make this proposed legislation public, hoping to push it through Congress quickly during the administration's planned war against Iraq. Apparently, the draft was made public only because an unnamed government employee released it to a public interest group.
These are dangerous times -- but not just because of the threat of external attacks.
ELIZABETH D. DYSON