Those who believe that the system can reform itself might have been justified in dismissing Ari Fleischer’s chilling remarks that, “There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do” as the expression of a single person in a single presidential administration in response to provocative remarks that were decidedly out of tune with the mood of the times. They might even be justified in remaining silent as the travesty known as the PATRIOT Act has been extended for yet another four years, a matter judged to be of such urgency by the succeeding administration that Barack Obama employed an autopen to sign it into law by remote control from Europe to prevent it from expiring even for the few hours it would have taken to fly the physical paperwork across the Atlantic, possibly because no other response is acceptable inside the Beltway.
Such people might again have attributed the Bush administration’s insistence on keeping protesters out of sight to the ill-advised peculiarities of a particular presidency. After all, as then-Attorney General John Ashcroft explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee,
[T]o those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty; my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists – for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil.
These apologists now need to explain this, today, under the Obama administration:
- Terence Smith, “Limits of Dissent,” Online NewsHour, PBS, October 16, 2011, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/july-dec01/dissent_10-16.html↩
- Michael D. Shear, “Making Legislative History, With Nod From Obama and Stroke of an Autopen,” New York Times, May 28, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/28/us/politics/28sign.html↩
- James Bovard, “Free-Speech Zone: The administration quarantines dissent,” American Conservative, December 15, 2003, http://www.amconmag.com/article/2003/dec/15/00012/↩
- John Ashcroft, “Testimony of Attorney General John Ashcroft,” Department of Justice, December 6, 2001, http://www.justice.gov/archive/ag/testimony/2001/1206transcriptsenatejudiciarycommittee.htm↩
- Adam Kokesh, “Adam Kokesh body slammed, choked, police brutality at Jefferson Memorial,” Adam vs. The Man, May 29, 2011, http://www.adamvstheman.com/blog/updates/adam-kokesh-body-slammed-choked-police-brutality-at-jefferson-memorial↩