The Corner

More Re: Gore Speech

Let’s not overlook the obligatory slanders of treatment of unlawful combatants and the Patriot Act. Gore: “The same dark spirit of domination [that caused Ghraib] has led [the Bush administration] to – for the first time in American history – imprison American citizens with no charges, no right to see a lawyer, no right to notify their family, no right to know of what they are accused, and no right to gain access to any court to present an appeal of any sort. The Bush Admistration has even acquired the power to compel librarians to tell them what any American is reading, and to compel them to keep silent about the request – or else the librarians themselves can also be imprisoned.”

For the record:

(a) The cases of the two American citizens, Jose Padilla and Yasar Esam Hamdi, have not just gotten to “any court” — they were heard last month by the Supreme Court of the United States. They both had access to counsel, and their Supreme Court cases were argued by both their counsel and several supporting amici curiae.

(b) The Patriot Act’s Section 215 does not even mention libraries; it addresses business records. The authority — which requires the government, in national security cases, to obtain approval from a judge, has not been used a single time — either for library records or any other records. To the contrary, agents conducting criminal investigations have, for decades, been able to subpoena business records (including library usage records) without a court order. In 1995, moreover, my DOJ colleagues and I made quite a fuss about the reading habits of some New Jersey residents. As it happened, their fingerprints festooned bombing manuals and pamphlets urging violent jihad against Americans. After the jury convicted those New Jersey residents of bombing the World Trade Center and attempting to blow up much of lower Manhattan, the Clinton Administration gave my colleagues and me an award for it and later invited us to attend a Rose Garden ceremony at which Vice President Gore looked on as President Clinton first lavishly praised our efforts and then signed sweeping anti-terrorism legislation. I guess times have changed.


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