Bush to Announce 'Patriot Act II' Today

Unbelievable. Bush and Ashcroft's lust for power knows no bounds. On the eve of the second anniversary of 9/11, Bush will make a speech at 3:15 ET today announcing a new terror bill--a remake of the bill known as Patriot Act II. Bush got busted earlier this year trying to sneak Patriot Act II to Dennis Hastert, the Speaker of the House, and when it got leaked to the media, he took it off the drawing board. Many, including us, have been warning that the Administration was not going to give up, but rather, give the bill shiny new packaging and introduce it piecemeal, so as to prevent an uproar of criticism.

A few of the provisions have already been passed. Today, Bush will announce a few more, including expanded use of the death penalty, denial of bail to terror suspects, and allowing investigators bypass grand juries to issue subpoenas.

This stinks. Here are the details of the three major provisions:

* Allowing law enforcement authorities to bypass a judge or grand jury and issue "administrative subpoenas" in terrorism investigations where "time is of the essence." Such authority is available in other types of investigations such as drug probes, McClellan said.

* Denying bail for terrorism suspects, to prevent them from fleeing. Bush was to cite as an example of the need for such legislation a case where a material witness in a terrorism case fled after being released on bail, McClellan said.

* Imposing the federal death penalty for terror-related crimes, such as sabotage of a military or nuclear facility "in a way that takes innocent life."

Protest loud. Protest often. These are your rights and civil liberties at stake. Ashcroft and the Justice Department are misleading the public as to the effect of the Patriot Act on average Americans.

Read this new report from People for the American Way and learn what freedoms you have already lost from the Bush and Ashcroft assault on the Constitution.

The first response we've read comes from Senator Patrick Leahy's office:

A Senate Democratic aide said he was unfamiliar with details of the legislation Bush is proposing, but said the action appears to violate a pledge by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

"The attorney general has repeatedly promised to consult with Congress in drafting any sequel to the Patriot Act. To this point, that has not happened," said David Carle, spokesman for Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Here is the ACLU Fact Sheet on Patriot Act II. Learn how "patriot powers" threaten your liberties.

Call your Senators and Congresspersons today--swamp them with calls denouncing this naked grab for power that will turn the separation of powers doctrine on its head and further erode the power of our judiciary. Remind yourself to call once a week until this bill is defeated. As the ACLU says:

Patriot Act 2 is fundamentally flawed because it relies on a false premise – that America can be safer if we do away with basic checks and balances. By undermining the role of the courts, Congress and the press in providing a real check on executive power, Patriot Act 2 directs its ire at the institutions of our democracy instead of at the terrorists that threaten it. In so doing, it threatens to undermine the rights of ordinary people and, ironically, the war against terrorism.

Toll Free Switchboard: 1-800-839-5276 Call as soon as Bush is done with his speech. Call often. Your voice counts.

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