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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Excerpt: 'Bush's Law'

by Eric Lichtblau

Hours after the attacks, Bush's senior law enforcement aides were talking about widespread sweeps in heavily Muslim neighborhoods like Dearborn, Michigan, essentially knocking door-to-door to look for information on the next plot without any real nexus to terrorism or wrongdoing. To [James Ziglar, the commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service], the tactic smacked of ethnic-profiling of the worst kind, but his concerns went beyond mere abstract ideology. Not only would it hurt relations with American Muslims-the very people the FBI would need as informants in this new war on terror — but it would mean an enormous drain of resources at the already strapped INS, resources that he felt could be better spent plugging the kinds of holes that officials would learn had allowed two of 9/11 hijackers to enter the country under their real names without even being watch-listed by the CIA. If there was specific evidence suggesting someone had information about terrorism, he was all in favor of going after it and going after it hard. But neighborhood-by- neighborhood sweeps and arrests? That troubled him. As David Ayres, Ashcroft's longtime advisor and powerful chief of staff, was planning a course of action, Ziglar squirmed in his seat. Finally, he broke in.

"I know you're not a lawyer," Ziglar told Ayres bluntly, "but we do have this thing called the Constitution." [Link]

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