Ashcroft, Tips and Rats

Former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins (Northern District of Texas) has written a terrific and very funny op-ed piece in the Texas Lawyer called Year of the Rats in which he takes U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to task for trying to make spies out of all of us.

"We will have white-collar, blue-collar and no-collar spies. Spies in all shapes, sizes and colors. Everyone will be eligible to eavesdrop -- postal workers, truck drivers, plumbers, utility company employees and lawyers. Well, maybe not lawyers. I spy. You spy. We all spy on each other."

"At least, that was the master plan behind the administration's Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS) program, as originally hatched by the U.S. Department of Justice. Leave it to killjoys on the right (Republican Dick Armey) and the left (the American Civil Liberties Union), however, to recoil from the prospect of the friendly plumber surreptitiously checking out our bookshelves and video libraries for suspicious material...."

"Bombarded by howls of protest from all quarters, Congress balked at Ashcroft's attempt to deputize one-half of the citizenry and place the other half on "double-secret probation." Although Congress has, for the past year, swallowed the administration's every line (and line item) that invoked the war on terrorism, Congress choked on TIPS. "

There's a lot more, go read the whole thing.

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