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'Patriotic' Propaganda 

If you want to check out something bizarre, go to www.lifeandliberty.gov.

This is an interesting little Web site set up by the Department of Justice in an effort to gain public support for the USA Patriot Act. After all, there are moves underway to broaden Patriot Act governmental powers, and there's a presidential election coming in a year.

The best way to describe the site is, well, propaganda.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Patriot Act, you must admit this site is propaganda--"the systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause," so says the dictionary (dictionary.com).

There's not a word of criticism of the act on the Web site. But it's loaded with pro-Patriot Act newspaper quotes and whatnot--including a somewhat local, horrible quote from a horrible opinion piece in a newspaper owned by a horrible company. That piece, "War Calls for Civil Sacrifices, Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Times," ran in The Arizona Republic on Dec. 6, 2001.

Meanwhile, Attorney General John Ashcroft is touring the country, giving speeches in support of the Patriot Act. At some of the speeches, like one he gave in Las Vegas, the public is not allowed in. At other stops, such as the one in Philadelphia, Ashcroft's held press conferences, but only for TV cameras--print journalists were not allowed to attend.

As we enter year three of post-Sept. 11 America, it's important for all of us to ask: Does all of this seem right?

jimmyb@tucsonweekly.com

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