Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, put out the following statement in response to today's Bush administration advocacy of the Patriot Acts I & II. (Patriot II is currently under consideration.)
"Attorney General John Ashcroft claims that Patriot I has saved the country from additional September 11-style attacks, and that we should have passed it before the attack. When the bill was still before the Congress, Ashcroft was asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) which of the new powers being given the federal government would have helped ward off September 11. Ashcroft answered that none would have.
"If Patriot II had been law of the land when Deacons for Defense were using guns to defend civil rights workers in the 1960's, they would have been declared a terrorist organization. As such they could have been arrested without charges, entitled to no lawyer, and kept incommunicado as long as the government chose," Pratt said.
"If Patriot II had been the law of the land two years ago, Klamath Falls farmers would have suffered the same fate. In that case, using "scientific findings" subsequently shown to be fraudulent, federal officials shut down the water supply of Klamath farmers. This was ostensibly to protect fish stocks. Farmers (typically with guns in their trucks) participated in civil disobedience at the site of the main water valve. Somehow unknown individuals were able to open up the water supply from time to time.
"The Klamath farmers would have been declared a terrorist organization and suffered the same fate as the Deacons for Defense.
"Under Patriot II, the Civil Rights movement would have failed, and the Klamath farmers would have lost their family farms.
"If Patriot II passes, a substantial number of political lobbies (including Gun Owners of America) could be declared terrorist organizations by an administration that simply dislikes their methods and goals. For details, please see http://gunowners.org/patriotii.htm on the GOA website.
"All this in the name of fighting terrorism?"