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  Target: 'Narco-Terror'
Posted by CN Staff on August 20, 2003 at 15:37:06 PT
By Dean Schabner 

justice As Attorney General John Ashcroft barnstorms the country to bolster support for the controversial USA Patriot Act, a new bill is quietly circulating on Capitol Hill to give even greater powers to law enforcement — in the name of fighting drug trafficking. has obtained a draft of the Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act of 2003, or VICTORY Act, which could be introduced to Congress this fall, and which appears to have been prepared by the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The measure would give law enforcement increased subpoena powers and more leeway over wire-tap evidence and on classifying some drug offenses as terrorism.

The draft is a complex 89-page document that, like the Patriot Act, the massive anti-terror law that passed overwhelmingly six weeks after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, would amend various existing statutes, ostensibly to allow law enforcement to work more efficiently.

Provisions in the draft would:

* Raise the threshold for rejecting illegal wiretaps. The draft reads: "A court may not grant a motion to suppress the contents of a wire or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, unless the court finds that the violation of this chapter involved bad faith by law enforcement."

* Extend subpoena powers by giving giving law enforcement the authority to issue non-judicial subpoenas which require a person suspected of involvement in money laundering to turn over financial records and appear in a prosecutor's office to answer questions.

* Extend the power of the attorney general to issue so-called administrative "sneak-and-peek" subpoenas to drug cases. These subpoenas allow law enforcement to gather evidence from wire communication, financial records or other sources before the subject of the search is notified.

* Allow law enforcement to seek a court order to require the "provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service" or a financial institution to delay notifying a customer that their records had been subpoenaed.

Patriot Challenges

Hatch spokeswoman Margarita Tapia declined to comment directly on the draft, which begins "Mr. Hatch … introduced the following bill," and is dated for the first session of the 108th Congress beginning next month. Tapia noted, "We are examining legislative options but we have not submitted anything for consideration."

Other members of the Senate judicial committee also declined to comment on the draft.

And a spokesman for the Justice Department, which came under fire from several members of Congress when drafts of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act — "Patriot II" — appeared earlier this year, said the agency was not involved in the Victory Act.

"It's not ours," a Justice Department official said.

But critics wasted no time taking aim at the measure. A Democratic aide for the House Judiciary Committee said the linking of drug-related crime and terrorism raises questions about the draft.

"This bill would treat drug possession as a 'terrorist offense' and drug dealers as 'narco-terrorist kingpins,' " the aide argued. "To say that terrorist groups use a small percentage of the drug trafficking in the United States to finance terrorism may be a fair point, but this bill would allow the government to prosecute most drug cases as terrorism cases."

Concluded the aide: "It really seems to be more about a political agenda to jail drug users than a serious attempt to stop terrorists."

American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Jameel Jaffer added: "Absolutely nothing would prevent the attorney general from using these subpoenas to obtain the records of people who have no connection to terrorism, drug trafficking or crime of any sort."

Patriot Challenges

Recent indications of growing discomfort around the country with some of the elements of the Patriot Act have come from the Republican side of the aisle as well.

The House last month passed by a vote of 309-118 a bill to eliminate funding for the "sneak-and-peek" powers as authorized in the Patriot Act. The House bill was authored by a Republican, Rep. Butch Otter of Idaho.

Meanwhile, three states and more than 140 cities, counties and towns around the country have passed resolutions critical of the Patriot Act. The language of those resolutions ranges from statements affirming a commitment to the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, to directives to local law enforcement not to cooperate with federal agents involved in investigations deemed to be unconstitutional.

A bill has also been introduced in the House to exclude bookstore and library records from those that could be subpoenaed by law enforcement without prior notification of the person whose records were being seized.

Two lawsuits have also been filed challenging provisions of the Patriot Act.

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit in Los Angeles arguing the provision that makes it illegal to provide "expert advice and assistance" to groups alleged to have ties to terrorism is unconstitutionally vague.

The ACLU also filed suit in Detroit last month, challenging the provision that allows law enforcement to secretly subpoena people's bookstore and library records.

Within the Constitution

Even before Ashcroft took to the road Tuesday, the Justice Department had begun defending the Patriot Act.

The department recently posted a new Web site -- -- with questions and answers addressing many of the complaints critics have about the Patriot Act.

Justice has also suggested the 93 U.S. attorneys around the country hold town hall meetings to reach out to people in their jurisdictions, to try to reassure them there is no threat to law abiding people in the Patriot Act.

Ashcroft began his tour in Washington, D.C., to put out the message personally that the Patriot Act has greatly aided the fight against terrorism and has not infringed on constitutional rights or civil liberties.

Speaking at the conservative-leaning think tank American Enterprise Institute, he lauded the achievements of law enforcement in preventing another terrorist attack in the nearly two years since Sept. 11, 2001, and in tracking down suspected terrorist cells in suburban Buffalo and Portland, Ore.

"We have built a new ethos of justice, one rooted in cooperation, nurtured by coordination and focused on a single overarching goal: the prevention of terrorist attacks," Ashcroft said. "All of this has been done within the safeguards or our Constitution, and the guarantees that our Constitution provides, protecting American freedom."

Note: Draft Bill Would Provide Broader Power; Ashcroft Defends Patriot Act.

ABCNEWS' Jason Ryan contributed to this report.

Source: (U.S. Web)
Author: Dean Schabner
Published: August 20, 2003
Copyright: 2003 ABC News Internet Ventures

Related Articles & Web Site:


Ashcroft Planning Trip To Defend Patriot Act

Ashcroft Pushes Anti-Terror Law Expansion

On Terror and Spying, Ashcroft Expands Reach

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Comment #16 posted by John Tyler on August 22, 2003 at 10:43:31 PT
By this definition George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would be considered "narco-terrorist kingpins".

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #15 posted by billos on August 21, 2003 at 10:33:32 PT:

Excellent link to the article on crooked hatch. The man is dangerous. Such are the likes of Jessie Helms and Stromm Thurman. Thurman is pushin' up the daisies where he belongs but the others linger. Praise the power of the internet to spread the truth.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #14 posted by Patrick on August 21, 2003 at 06:51:22 PT
way to go kaptinemo
That's a fine example of our fearless leaders throwing stones at glass houses so to speak. Makes one wonder just how much more crap laws they have made to rule over us rather than govern as elected.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #13 posted by kaptinemo on August 21, 2003 at 05:48:22 PT:

Hatch is just another sanctimonious hypocrite
One proof among many:

Orrin Hatch, Software Pirate?,1283,59305,00.html

from the article

*Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suggested Tuesday that people who download copyright materials from the Internet should have their computers automatically destroyed.

But Hatch himself is using unlicensed software on his official website, which presumably would qualify his computer to be smoked by the system he proposes.*

The word is he was later apprised of his gaffe and very, very quietly began paying for what he had in effect STOLEN.

Yepper, another moral exemplar who is fit to lecture the rest of us on propriety...NOT!!!

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by billos on August 21, 2003 at 04:26:44 PT:

Orrin Hatch is a religious little fundamentalist dweeb. The last time I caught him in action during a senate session he was being chastised by a congressman. The congressman was “reminding” him of the separation of “church and state” and to please refrain from basing his reasoning on his own religious beliefs. Hatch was defending his introduction of certain legislation by basically implying “because the bible says so.” The little dweeb is the epitome of the type of person that should never be in power but unfortunately represents the very type of politician responsible for running this country. In God we trust. What is deemed “moral” will be accepted, and what is deemed “immoral” will be eliminated from the mainstream. Guess which category cannabis falls in?

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #11 posted by goneposthole on August 20, 2003 at 19:05:44 PT
brash blatant brazenness
The guy wants to let the eagle sore.

Like I have stated before, I know postal workers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, professors, business people, or you name it, that are all law abiding citizens. All of these same people smoke and use cannabis. All seek it regularly, without fail. They all say it 'takes the edge off'. They like it and use it for medicinal purposes. Nothing wrong with that. What is appallingly wrong is the insane pogrom against cannabis users and cannabis. Nothing wrong with bringing it all down, too.

John Ashcroft should stick to writing patriot songs and not Patriot Acts.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by Jose Melendez on August 20, 2003 at 18:18:18 PT
Prohibition: Same as it ever was.

Ignorance is Bliss:

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #9 posted by Lehder on August 20, 2003 at 18:14:03 PT
right on, mayan
" As the fascists become more desperate, their tactics will grow more extreme. "

the cool part is when they start having a little trouble and begin killing each other as well as everyone else. it's all in the books.

keep up the pressure with all your good links.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by mayan on August 20, 2003 at 18:03:45 PT
Desperation = Extremism
This has been their grand plan all along, but we all knew that...didn't we? As the fascists become more desperate, their tactics will grow more extreme. Send this article far & wide!!!

The way out is the way in....

Four 9/11 Moms Battle Bush:

An open letter to the families and friends of 9/11 victims:

America Two Years after 9/11 - 25 Things We Now Know:

Bush's 9/11 Secrets:

9/11 CitizensWatch - Preparing Analysis of 9/11 Joint Inquiry Report:

White House Obstructs 9/11 Investigation:

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by Petard on August 20, 2003 at 17:31:47 PT
And how praytell would

someone like Marc Emery be a terrorist in the USSA? Someone who grows it then sells it for their own profit and buys goods and services and pays taxes, a terrorist? Or how about lil Junior or Missy who buys a quarter pound to split into eigths for self sustaining smoke (sells enough so they're not out of pocket for their own stash)? Remember folks, "prison, it's for the kids" is now a campaign slogan for the incumbents.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by Lehder on August 20, 2003 at 17:20:54 PT
i remember it well
i remember where i was the same as i remember where i was when kennedy was shot and i remember it as well as dubcek. that's when the great socialist experiment was exposed: the ussr was not the wave of the future, but a big bully that crushed little countries. i hope i don't have to wait 20 years to see the next political collapse.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #5 posted by E_Johnson on August 20, 2003 at 17:00:09 PT
Remember Prague Spring -- 8/20/68
Thirty five years ago today, Soviet tanks under the orders of the Soviet Politburo entered Prague to crush the movement for artistic and political freedom in Czechoslovakia known as Prague Spring.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by lombar on August 20, 2003 at 16:39:33 PT
The alarm bells should be deafening
"Extend the power of the attorney general to issue so-called administrative "sneak-and-peek" subpoenas to drug cases."

With a new sneak and plant-evidence power, NOBODY would be safe from arbitrary persecution/arrest. Don't like somebody? Send in the DEA to 'find' some drugs..."O gee, what have we here? A gram of herion stapled to a deposit to a known terrorist organisation, off to Guantanamo with you..." A narco-nazis dream come true.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by OverwhelmSam on August 20, 2003 at 16:31:48 PT:

John Asscroft Goes Mad!
' If this passes, be afraid. Be very afraid. '

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on August 20, 2003 at 16:07:04 PT:

Whom the Gods destroy, they first make
into Crisco slathering fundie nut-cases who demand their staff sing ridiculous patriotic songs they pen themselves, cover Dame Justice's bronze boobs with rags and shy away from calico cats.

And push for legislation that would cause every teenaged 'youthful experimentation' with cannabis to be treated as rank treason. The unfortunates in Guantanamo may have some youthful company, soon...

Yepper, Ashcroft is exactly what my friend from Toronto says: "Barking mad". As in 'mad dog' mad.

[ Post Comment ]

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