U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft delivered a speech in Des Moines today, defending the new powers the Justice Department is using to investigate terrorists. Ashcroft spoke to an invitation-only audience of state, federal and local law enforcement officers. The Attorney General said the U.S. is winning the war on terror, partly because of the new Patriot Act which gives the Justice Department broader powers to track suspected terrorists. Ashcroft said the terrorists have vowed to spread the disease of hate, but “together we are stopping them.” Ashcroft said the Patriot Act extends law enforcement the same tools that have been used to track down drug dealers and the Mafia. Ashcroft said the tools have been used to save American lives and “to prevent terrorists from unleashing more death and destruction on our soil.” Ashcroft said the Patriot Act closed gaping loopholes in the government’s ability to investigate terrorists, giving up the Patriot Act tools would force investigators to “tip off” terrorists Ashcroft said the public supports the law by a two-to-one margin, and he invited those with questions to visit a new website — www.lifeandliberty.gov. Ashcroft says about three-thousand terrorists have been arrested around the world, and the tactics and strategies are effective in helping the U.S. “win the war on terror.” About 80 protestors gathered across the street from the site of Ashcroft’s speech to voice their objections to the Patriot Act. Ben Stone is executive director of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union. Stone says there’s a growing movement in the country, from all across the political spectrum, demanding changes in the Patriot Act. Stone says the American people want to be safe, but they want and deserve to be free as well.
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