On November 9 2001, Attorney General Ashcroft announced that he was ordering the Justice Department to begin wiretapping and monitoring attorney-client communications in terrorist cases where the suspect was incarcerated. This was not even discussed in HR 3162. That same day Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Vermont wrote to Ashcroft. He had many questions to ask about what the Justice Department had been doing by violating the trust of Congress and assuming powers which were not authorized by either law or the Constitution. Leahy even quoted a Supreme Court case (U.S. v. Robel): "[T]his concept of "national defense" cannot be deemed an end in itself, justifying any exercise of... power designed to promote such a goal. Implicit in the term ‘national defense' is the notion that defending those values and ideas which set this Nation apart... It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties... which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile."
Leahy asked Ashcroft by what authority had he decided - on his own and without judicial review - to nullify the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. He asked for an explanation and some description of the procedural safeguards that Ashcroft would put in place. He asked Ashcroft to appear before the Judiciary committee and to respond in writing by November 13.
His answer came a little late. On November 16, Patrick Leahy received an anthrax letter. Months latter Ashcroft still hadn't responded.
• “If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They'll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads”-- Dwight Eisenhower - 12/8/49
(June 20) -- FBI agents have confirmed that a search warrant was served Thursday night on the home of a self-described military watchdog in the tiny town of Rachel, near the mysterious Area 51 military base. Eyewitness News has learned this action was initiated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The search warrant remains sealed and the FBI won’t say what was seized from the home of Rachel resident Chuck Clark. It's believed the action was taken because Chuck Clark escorted the I-Team on a tour of the roads surrounding the base. During the visit, he showed us the location of military sensors, hidden on public land. Here's our story. Retired astronomer and desert rat Chuck Clark has a new hobby. He's prowled the hills and deserts of Lincoln County for several years now, has photographed exotic aircraft in the skies, and keeps an eye on the top secret base known as Area 51. He's even written a book about the place. Over the past few months, he's discovered that the military has been installing secret sensor devices on public lands surrounding the base. Using a frequency counter device, he can tell when his vehicle trips a sensor. When that happens, he looks for the hard-to-spot wire atop the device, and then he digs them up, takes pictures, and puts them back. Clark isn’t a terrorist or spy but is angered that hikers, four wheelers, or photographers are being monitored by the military on public land, miles from the boundary of the base, which is clearly marked by signs. Chuck Clark says, “It's overkill in my opinion. They have a 25-mile buffer zone around the base. Why they have to put stuff outside the line really escapes me.” During the I-Team visit last week, two sensors were located and base security wrote down the plate numbers of our vehicles. We returned five days ago and drove to the rear entrance of Area 51. Two days later, FBI agents, working with Air Force intelligence and the Joint Terrorism Task Force , raided Clark’s home and seized photos, records and his computer. Is it legal for anyone to touch military sensors hidden on public land? The government doesn’t think so, although Clark hasn’t been charged with anything, is the military trying to silence this outback gadfly? "They’re paranoid about this location and I don’t see why" said Clark. We asked the BLM if it's legal for the military to put sensing devices out on public land but a spokesman couldn’t answer our question. Law enforcement sources say that by handling the sensors, the devices are disabled. So it amounts to destruction of government property. As we mentioned, Clark hasn’t been charged. He was out of the state when the warrant was served. Our investigation of the issues involved will continue.
The American people deserve better from their Justice Department. That is why the ACLU is calling for a full and thorough Senate confirmation process that scrutinizes Attorney General Nominee Gonzales' positions on key civil liberties and human rights issues.
It is the Senate's duty to make certain that the next Attorney General is committed to enforcing the civil rights laws that are critical to protecting the American value of fairness. We are also demanding that the Senate scrutinize Mr. Gonzales' proposed policies on the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, the Guantanamo Bay detentions, the designation of United States citizens as enemy combatants and reproductive rights. (quote from ACLU 12-04)