U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s speaking in Des Moines this noon-hour before an audience of Iowa law enforcement officials. Ashcroft’s on a tour of the country’s industrial heartland, meeting with state and local officials to tout implementation of the so-called Patriot Act. The law was passed after 9/11 and gave federal investigators greater authority to install wiretaps, monitor Internet use and detain immigrants. Democratic presidential candidates often get their largest measure of applause when they criticize the act during speeches here. Candidate John Edwards says the Patriot Act “rolls over Americans’ civil liberties.” Candidate Howard Dean’s supporters have been signing an on-line “Stop Ashcroft” petition protesting the law. And candidate Dennis Kucinich promises to introduce a bill in Congress that would repeal most of the Patriot Act’s provisions.
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