Pejman argues that John Conyers’ recent criticism of Ashcroft’s Patriot Act tour is too much:
I understand and respect those who disagree with the USA Patriot Act, but this goes beyond a mere difference of opinion. Conyers is stating that Ashcroft can’t even talk about the measure in speeches across the country. This is just ridiculous, and Conyers’s position is not saved by claiming that Ashcroft is “lobbying.” How can the activity qualify as lobbying when the Patriot Act was passed nearly two years ago?
I do not know if there is legislation that supports Conyers position but if there is I do not like it any more than similar laws (or regulations) that, for example, prohibit recipients of federal funds from providing information on, say condom use, to sexually active clients.
We thrive on a free flow of information and opinions, even information and opinions that we disagree with. Ashcroft should get to talk and he should make a choice to talk to the larger community not just law enforcement folks in closed or semi-closed sessions.
Is Ashcroft lobbying and does Pejman’s argument that the Patriot Act was passed two years ago so it can’t be lobbying hold up? Maybe not. I think that Ashcroft is concerned that congress may move to make changes he does not want. Why else does he, for example, make stops in the home district of the only GOP congressman who voted against it?
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is coming to Boise on Monday to talk up the Patriot Act in the home district of the only GOP congressman who spoke against it.
Ashcroft kicked off a monthlong speaking tour of more than a dozen cities this week to deflect growing opposition to parts of the Patriot Act.
Trying to deflect growing opposition may not be lobbying but it does walk just a little bit like it.
The other thing Ashcroft is undoubtably trying to do is build support for the pending Victory Act. Ashcroft is lobbying just as bush is currently on the campaign trail (is his re-election committee paying for this?). They are doing what public officials have done for ever and should continue to do even if we disagree with them: make their cases to the people.