Ashcroft Calls For Tougher Patriot Act
Christopher J. Petherick
At a meeting of
law enforcement officials in Tampa Bay, Fla., Attorney General John Ashcroft
(above) made it clear that he plans to expand the controversial Patriot Act to
grant police more freedom to stop and search Americans to help fight the war on
Citing the war on drugs, Ashcroft told police
chiefs and other top officials that local law enforcement should be able to
employ the same tools for battling terrorism as it does in fighting drugs and
combating organized crime.
Ashcroft said he is seeking from Congress the
authority to allow judges to impose the death penalty for those convicted of
terrorist activities that do not now have death penalty specifications.
Some civil libertarians groups object to
Ashcroft’s call to expand the contested Patriot Act.
“This legislation will almost certainly have no
deterrent effect on suicidal, politically motivated terrorists such as members
of Al Qaeda,” said the American Civil Liberties Union in a written statement.
In addition, free trade protesters, members of
environmental groups, anti-abortion demonstrators and other people attending
some types of patriotic rallies could risk being sentenced to death for acts of
civil disobedience that the government labels as terrorist in nature.
Democratic lawmakers have criticized Ashcroft,
saying the Patriot Act goes too far and infringes on Americans’ constitutional