Attorney General John Ashcroft started his nationwide speaking campaign today in defense of the antiterrorism USA Patriot Act. The New York Times notes that Ashcroft will visit states “considered central to Mr. Bush’s 2004 re-election effort and where some political strategists say the administration’s tough antiterrorism tactics play well.” The law gives the federal government more powers to investigate terrorism suspects.
“The majority of American people are clearly supportive of our counterterrorism efforts, including the use of the Patriot Act,” Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said. “It’s important that after months of misinformation being spread by a small but vocal minority inside the Beltway that we go out beyond Washington and talk to people in law enforcement and let them know that their efforts are appreciated.”
The Times says that some of Ashcroft’s critics report that the Justice Department has become more responsive to their concerns about the civil liberties implications of the law, answering some demands for information on how it is being used.