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Ashcroft's itinerary includes Portland
Ashcroft, who caused a stir in Oregon in 2001 when he tried to thwart
Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law, is scheduled to meet with federal
prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
"It's part of an ongoing process to meet with every U.S. attorney's office,"
said Josie Duckett, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ashcroft also plans to meet with the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force and
hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m. in the Mark O. Hatfield U.S.
Courthouse, Duckett said.
A Portland Police Bureau spokesman said officials learned about the visit
Tuesday, so he was not certain whether activists would have time to plan a
"This is a very short notice event," said Sgt. Brian Schmautz. "To my
knowledge, the public is just now learning of it. We are monitoring the
situation, and we will be working with the federal government to provide the
appropriate security and crowd control."
Ashcroft, a former Republican senator from Missouri who became attorney
general in 2001, drew the ire of many Oregonians when he moved without
warning to block the state's one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law.
In November, 2001, he announced that the Drug Enforcement Administration
would discipline Oregon physicians who prescribed lethal doses of drugs to
terminally ill patients under the state's assisted suicide law.
The move effectively would have blocked the 1996 voter-approved law, but
state officials and attorneys representing terminally ill patients,
physicians and pharmacists filed suit in federal court.
In 2002, U.S. District Judge Robert Jones ruled against Ashcroft, saying he
had acted beyond the scope of his authority. Jones also scolded Ashcroft for
failing to give Oregon officials advance notice that he was considering
taking steps to block the law.
"The attorney general of the United States completely ignored his earlier
promise to the Oregon Attorney General to ascertain Oregon's views," Jones
Ashcroft appealed to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which heard oral
arguments in May but has not yet ruled.
In December 2001, Portland police officials refused Ashcroft's request to
interview Middle Eastern immigrants for their knowledge about terrorism,
saying to do so would violate a state law on collecting information not
related to a criminal investigation.
Ashcroft's itinerary could change, but he also is scheduled to visit federal
prosecutors in Seattle and Anchorage during a five-day Western swing,
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