Ashcroft and the Religious Right
The American Humanist Association (AHA) is alarmed by Attorney General John Ashcroft’s continued attempts to enact his extreme personal agenda. In this time of crisis, the United States Attorney General should rise above political motivations and defend our nation’s defining feature—freedom.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Ashcroft was criticized for not going far enough in using records of gun purchases in his search for potential terrorists. He hypocritically responded, “I don't want to hear two messages from this committee . . . that you want me to enforce some laws and not other laws . . . or respect some rights and not other rights.” Clearly that is precisely the practice Ashcroft himself has been engaged in over recent months.
AHA president Edd Doerr observes, “While Ashcroft feels the purchase records of those who buy guns is sacrosanct, he has had no qualms suspending habeas corpus, ignoring client attorney privilege, and secretly detaining and investigating hundreds of persons not charged with crimes. While Ashcroft overlooks pleas for action on civil rights violations, claiming his department is absorbed in the antiterrorism effort, he has no trouble finding time to pursue Oregon physicians who attempt to provide comfort for patients in the last stage of life. While Ashcroft is assisting a war effort on behalf the American people, he is also engaged in his own battle to shift rights and liberties from the individual citizens to the government.”
“The agenda Ashcroft is pursuing is not the one defined by his office and oath,” concludes executive director Tony Hileman. “Despite his claims to the contrary during his nomination hearing this past January, it is now apparent that he is not able to put aside his personal aims and beliefs in order to fulfill his role of fairly protecting the rights of all Americans.”
“To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this:” Ashcroft said, “Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve.” Hileman responds, “Our nation is built on diversity, not unanimity, and is not bolstered by governmental attempts to suppress dissent. We appeal to Congress and the President to halt Ashcroft’s unrelenting assault on America’s civil liberties. Not only has he circumvented the Constitution and suspended the civil liberties that make our country great, but has gone so far as to denounce his critics as unpatriotic. These are not fitting actions for the head of our nation’s justice department.”
The American Humanist Association is the oldest and largest Humanist organization in the nation. The AHA is dedicated toensuring a voice for those with a positive outlook, based on reason and experience, which embraces all of humanity.