- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Rep. Bob Barr, who has been called "Georgia's state-of-the-art conservative," is siding with his ideological foes in opposing the Bush administration's anti-terrorism proposals.
The Georgia Republican says he sees no contradiction in that.
Mr. Barr, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, balked last week when Attorney General John Ashcroft argued the committee must quickly adopt measures allowing increased surveillance authority against suspected terrorists.
Along with committee colleagues Reps. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat; Maxine Waters, California Democrat; Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, and other liberals, Mr. Barr demanded to know why the White House was trying to rush legislation that might affect Americans' civil liberties.
Although he made a different argument in the course of a committee hearing last week, Mr. Barr later told reporters that what really troubled him was the attempt to broaden federal powers. He said he has for years opposed such expansion, and, if that put him in league with the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and various liberal lawmakers, so be it.
At the Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Mr. Barr asked witnesses why the administration wanted to proceed "without proper hearings, without due deliberation and input, to dramatically change provisions of U.S. criminal law and criminal procedure across the board?"
The White House has asked for legislation that would permit law enforcement officials to track suspects more easily and would expand wire-tapping authority to cover multiple modes of communication and multiple phones instead of just one.
The legislation would allow U.S. authorities to seize as well as freeze terrorists' assets, to receive and use intelligence data from foreign countries that may have violated U.S. constitutional provisions in collecting such information, and much more.
Mr. Barr asked why the Justice Department was asking for these powers now. He suggested the department was taking advantage of the current terrorist crisis to push through an expansion of power it had been seeking for years.
In siding with Mr. Barr, Mr. Conyers suggested the proposals for increased police powers "give rise to constitutional troubles."
The legislators' skepticism cheered ACLU leaders. In a statement released after the House hearings, the ACLU asked the Senate to follow the lead of Mr. Barr and Mr. Conyers.
"Congress must take every reasonable step it can to protect our nation against future attacks," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU's national office in Washington. "At the same time, the people's representatives must also work to minimize the legislation's impact on our free society."
While applauding some of the administration's counterterrorism proposals, the ACLU declared that others go "far beyond addressing the terrorist attacks."

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