The USA-PATRIOT Act and the American Response to Terror: Can We Protect Civil Liberties after September 11?

Article excerpt

A Panel Discussion with Congressman Barney Frank, Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, Professor David Cole, Mr. Stuart Taylor, Jr., and Ms. Beth Wilkinson

Moderated by Mr. Jeffrey Toobin

March 6, 2002 Georgetown University Law Center

DAVID S. LEE: Good evening, and welcome to the American Criminal Law Review's seventh annual debate. I am David Lee, and I have been privileged to serve as the Editor-in-Chief for the past year. The ACLR is published four times annually and our articles, student-authored notes, and events explore the cutting-edge issues in criminal law. Six years ago, this debate series was instituted to celebrate ACLR's twenty-fifth anniversary here at Georgetown. The debate brings to campus distinguished speakers to discuss contemporary legal and public policy criminal law issues. The transcript of tonight's debate is then published in a future ACLR issue. Once again, I would like to thank all of you for attending tonight and now would like to introduce the main force behind this event, David Suchar, our Executive Editor.

DAVID E. SUCHAR: Thank you, David. Good evening and welcome to this year's symposium. Our symposium topic this year is the USA PATRIOT Act (1) and the American response to terror. Throughout the past forty years, editors and staff of the American Criminal Law Review have sought to address cutting-edge issues in criminal law, many concerning the appropriate balance between protecting civil liberties and preserving the power of law enforcement in the American justice system. Tonight's topic is a shining example of that tradition. Enacted in late October of 2001 in response to the September 11 [2001] attacks, the USA PATRIOT Act altered the existing balance between law enforcement capabilities and the expectations of American citizens. We are privileged tonight to have assembled a panel of such great experience and stature in politics, law enforcement, scholarship, and journalism to discuss such a timely topic. On behalf of the editors and staff of the journal, we look forward to a lively and provocative discussion. Without further delay, it is my distinct honor and privilege to introduce tonight's moderator. After graduating from Harvard Law School, our moderator served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn and as an associate counsel in the office of the Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh. This was the experience that provided the inspiration for his book Opening Arguments; A Young Lawyer's First Case: United States v. Oliver North. (2) He is also the author of some critically acclaimed best-selling books, [including] A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President (3) and The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. (4) His latest book, Too Close to Call, (5) is the definitive description of the Bush-Gore 2000 presidential recount. He currently serves as a staff writer for the New Yorker and as the legal analyst for ABC News. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to our moderator tonight, Mr. Jeffrey Toobin.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Thank you David. Aw, shucks, but enough about me. What an all-star cast we have here and we will get right to them, but I would like to introduce them to you in exquisitely non-judgmental alphabetical order. Michael Chertoff, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the [United States Department of Justice] Criminal Division, is the go-to guy on terrorism at this critical moment in history. He is one of the most distinguished lawyers of his generation. He was the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey. He was the first assistant U.S. Attorney in New Jersey. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted probably the most important mafia prosecution in history, the famous "Commission" case, (6) [for] which he won convictions even though his summer intern on that case was me. …