Monday, October 04, 2004

Ashcroft: U.S. will appeal terror-law ruling

Here's another example of the press being used by partisan political operatives--the ACLU. Read the rest of the story here.

By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor

WASHINGTON, (UPI) -- Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday the government would appeal a New York court ruling declaring unconstitutional its power to issue secret subpoenas to Internet and telephone companies, as a GOP senator charged the judgment was being deliberately misrepresented for political ends.

Speaking to reporters in the Netherlands, where he is meeting with European officials, Ashcroft said the power to issue national-security letters -- as the secret subpoenas are known -- was "completely consistent with the United States Constitution."

Also Thursday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, accused the American Civil Liberties Union and the media of misrepresenting the ruling as a blow to the USA Patriot Act.

"The power to issue these (subpoenas) goes back to 1986," he told United Press International. "It has nothing to do with the Patriot Act.

"This is another attempt by the ACLU and those who seek partisan gain from civil-liberties issues to scare the American people."

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero ruled Wednesday that the power to issue the letters, which require Internet service providers to hand over their customer records and bar them from ever disclosing the search took place, violated the First and Fourth Amendments.

The letters can be used to find the senders of anonymous e-mail messages or the hosts of chat rooms, for example, and are issued without judicial oversight.

The bar on disclosing these secret subpoenas is so broad that it could even apply to discussions with a lawyer, effectively barring the recipient from seeking legal advice or from having any recourse to challenge the subpoena.

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