Sen. Wyden is skeptical; Sen. Smith should stand up to Bush and AshcroftPresident Bush's relentless push for renewal of the USA Patriot Act is very much about the politics of re-election. From what we all have heard from the 9/11 Commission, it should be clear that the president and his attorney general had a wealth of tools prior to 9/11. They simply ignored the information that those tools produced and were curiously unalarmed by certain patterns.

Many senators and Republican senators in particular are highly skeptical of what Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft are requesting. Bush is telling campaign audiences that not to renew the USA Patriot Act is in itself unpatriotic. That is hardly the case. It takes more courage to slow down and talk to Americans about their civil rights than it does to play the demagogue on the campaign trail.

The framers of our Constitution deliberately created the Senate to be a conservative body, to take the time to be skeptical of willful chief executives. Knowing how rashly President Bush committed American troops to war, senators should exercise every ounce of skepticism on behalf of the rights of American citizens. They should remember that Mr. Ashcroft is one of the most political and least professionally qualified attorneys general in the nation's history.

Sen. Ron Wyden has been outspoken in questioning the USA Patriot Act. We urge Sen. Gordon Smith not to be a rubber stamp and to play the constitutional role for which the Senate was meant.


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