Ashcroft Sells the Patriot Act
From El Diario
September 10, 2003

By Claudia Zequeira

Two days before the second anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft made a tour of New York to promote the Patriot Act, a packet of laws that was introduced after the terrorist attacks. According to some legislators of the country and civil liberties groups, the Patriot Act takes away many of the constitutional rights of the people.

In a discussion at the symbolic Federal Hall, only blocks from Ground Zero, Ashcroft, who is on a tour of 20 states on the country, spoke before members of the police forces and the New York criminal justice. In his message Ashcroft again reiterated that the threat from Al Qaeda remains real and that the laws contained in the Patriot Act are essential to combat terrorism.

“Our responsibility is to do everything we can and should under the constitution to prevent new terrorist attacks… We have fought with the tools necessary to protect the lives and liberties of the American people,” Ashcroft said. He added that he was surprised that there had not been any new attacks since September 11.

Before the Attorney General entered into the building where the first President of the Country, George Washington, was inaugurated, civil liberties groups organized protests in which they complained of the wave of arbitrary arrests and indefinite detentions of civilians, especially of non-citizens, since September 11.

“The fact that Ashcroft stopped here today is a cynical attempt to use the anniversary of a national tragedy and evade the critics that have been against the Department of Justice for months,” said Deni Frand, Executive Director of the People for the American Way, a civil liberties group.

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Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Triggs

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