Bush Campaign Lies

Monday, March 15, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #7: Kerry Will 'Weaken the Patriot Act Used to Arrest Terrorists and Protect America' 

The Bush campaign makes this claim in an ad released on March 11. It's reasonable to expect the Bush camp to substantiate their claim by citing at least one provision of the Patriot Act which Kerry plans to weaken or eliminate, but they don't. Instead, they cite three Kerry quotes in which he criticizes the Patriot Act, and one where he says '. . . it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft. That starts with replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time.' Actually, in the broader context for every single one of those quotes, Kerry is targeting John Ashcroft's abuses of the Patriot Act as much as the Patriot Act itself.

When FactCheck.org asked exactly how Kerry would weaken the Patriot Act, Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt insisted that rolling back any provision would weaken it. In other words, the Bush team's major support for their claim is that Congress drafted, debated, and passed a comprehensive measure to fight terrorism and got it exactly right, all in 45 days.

Kerry has proposed changes to the Patriot Act, even though the Bush camp doesn't want to talk about them. In a speech he made at Iowa State University on December 1, he said:

If I’m elected President, we will put an end to 'sneak and peak' searches which permit law enforcement to conduct a secret search and seize evidence without notification. Agents can break into a home or business to take photos, seize property, copy computer files, or load a secret keystroke detector on a computer. These searches should be limited only to the most rare circumstances. And law enforcement should provide notice of the search within seven days, unless a court extends the period of notification.

We will eliminate the potential of fishing expeditions into people’s library and business records. If the FBI wants to make these kinds of investigations, they will need a warrant issued by a judge and evidence that they are looking into an agent of a foreign power.

We will provide Americans with protections from wiretaps, prevent local police officers from spying on innocent people, and that ensures our courts guarantee appropriate national security protections.
These are the changes Kerry wants to make; the Bush camp doesn't cite them as proof of their claim. One possible reason for the omission is that the changes Kerry proposes won't weaken the Patriot Act. Another is that most Americans would be likely to support them.

9:50 PM