U.S. Civil Liberties Endangered After Sept. 11 Terrorist Strike
Interview by Between The Lines' Scott Harris
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York City and Washington, the Bush administration proposed a package of anti-terrorism laws now being considered by Congress. Attorney General John Ashcroft, stating that the legislation was essential to detecting and preventing future acts of terrorism, asked that the House and Senate quickly pass the measures.
But a coalition of progressive and conservative legislators have balked at some key provisions that civil libertarians warn could erode our constitutional rights. The measures receiving Congressional scrutiny include proposals that would expand government authority to: detain immigrants suspected of terrorist activity indefinitely without charges, initiate roving telephone wiretaps and monitor suspects electronic communications without a search warrant. Many observers have also criticized the administration's definition of "who is a terrorist" as being overly broad -- possibly permitting those engaged in lawful dissent to be targets of federal prosecution. Congress is expected to scale back the legislation, but public opinion will play a critical role.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Michael Ratner, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, who takes a critical look at the Bush administration's proposed anti-terrorism legislation in the context of previous crises that led to the erosion of civil liberties.
Call the Center for Constitutional Rights at (212) 614-6464 or visit their Web site at: www.humanrightsnow.org