Because I haven't had any hits for john+ashcroft+insane for a while, I thought maybe I'd start a thread for john+ashcroft+gun+nut. Apparently, terrorists come to the United States to buy guns (it's easy!), and the FBI is prohibited from using background check records [realaudio] to attempt to find them. According to Ashcroft, the background check legislation is written too narrowly to allow any agency to use the information for anything but auditing the background check system. But, ask some senators of Ashcroft, "what good is the databse if nobody can actually use it?" To which Ashcroft cheekily replies, "I think we're boats passing in the night." Seriously! He has no answer other than to reply that he is reading the law precisely as it is written.
However, Ashcroft has no trouble giving himself an enormous amount of latitude with regard to, say, privacy (see also the American Library Association's views on the subject of FBI surveillance of book borrowing/buying). Come on. The FBI can look up data on my house purchase, my car purchase, anything I've ever bought with my credit card -- and what kinds of subversive texts I'm looking for on Amazon. Fortunately, if need be, however, the FBI never gets to know if I buy a hundred assault weapons that are exempted from surveillance altogether. That will be good for the Cochise County Militia and the other heavily-armed vigilante wackos* around here.
That's really quite remarkable.
* I have a particular bone to pick with these dangerous morons, who misrepresented themselves as Border Patrol in order to gain access to private property, where they camped out, seized some drugs, and then waited almost a full day to call the police -- better daytime light made for a better photo op (these brave men made sure to digitally cover their faces in the photo on their web site). The ranch where they trespassed is the same place where Heather was doing field work several days before. These Soldier of Fortune jackasses are dangerous.