Ashcroft defends the Patriot Act

Aug. 20, 2003 at 7:16 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Attorney General John Ashcroft began a multi-city campaign in Philadelphia Wednesday, vigorously defending the government's controversial Patriot Act.

Ashcroft made his remarks to a Philadelphia meeting of about 200 local, state and federal law enforcement officials.

Although critics of the Patriot Act complain about restrictions on civil rights, Ashcroft says without the act, American would "pay the price in lost liberty."

"Make no mistake: our strategy, our tactics, are working," said Ashcroft. "Our tools are effective."

Congress approved the Patriot Act shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to give the Justice Department additional and wider enforcement powers.

But since its passage, the Patriot Act has come under increasing criticism from Congress, civil rights groups and even the Justice Department's inspector general -- all of who contend the measure infringes on constitutional rights.

The Philadelphia Inquirer noted elected officials in three states and more than 150 communities, including Philadelphia, have passed ordinances condemning the act.

Ashcroft has also scheduled appearances in Cleveland, Detroit and Des Moines.

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