Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ashcroft's Whistle-Stops

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ashcroft's Whistle-Stops

Article excerpt

Attorney General John Ashcroft and civil libertarians have been at odds over some provisions of the Patriot Act - the anti- terrorism law passed by a strong majority in Congress six weeks after 9/11.

This week Mr. Ashcroft and the Justice Department launched an offensive, insisting the act provides the tools to better defend the country against the terrorist threat. Mr. Ashcroft is taking his campaign on the road; he'll speak to law-enforcement officials in some 18 cities across the United States.

He has plenty of convincing to do. While the Patriot Act certainly has accomplished much - especially in breaking down walls between intelligence and law-enforcement agencies - it arguably infringes on rights that Americans hold dear.

To date, some 150 local governments and at least three states have passed resolutions condemning the act for infringing on civil liberties. Last month, the US House voted to prevent Justice from spending money to use a Patriot Act provision that allows federal agents to conduct unannounced "sneak and peek" searches of homes and businesses. …

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