Ashcroft lauds Patriot Act in Salt Lake
He says it protects Americans' safety and their liberty
Deseret Morning News | May 5, 2005
Ashcroft says, ""There are no known infractions of the liberties of the American people attributable to the Patriot Act."
Toy store owners? Website owners? Photographers?Strip club owners? Journalists? Artists?
What about these infractions Ashcroft?
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft sung praises to the Patriot Act in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night as part of a Law Day celebration event.
Mark Shurtleff, Utah's attorney general, held his annual dinner and campaign fund-raiser with guest including Sen. Orrin Hatch, Elizabeth Smart and Ashcroft, who gave the keynote address.
Ashcroft recalled on the day of 9/11, President George Bush turned to him and said, "Don't ever let this happen again." According to Ashcroft, the Patriot Act is what will ensure just that.
"After 9/11 we had to move from a paradigm of prosecution to a paradigm of prevention to keep this from happening," Ashcroft said. "That is very difficult . . . we have to think outside the box but we can never think outside the Constitution."
He said by and large the Patriot Act made tools available, which had already been constitutionally evaluated and tested in the court, to fight against terrorists.
"There are no known infractions of the liberties of the American people attributable to the Patriot Act, and it is no wonder because the Patriot Act is designed to avoid excesses and abuses," Ashcroft said.
He told the crowd of about 200 that terrorism is not on vacation — terrorists have been very active and the nation needs to have the act in place as a means of controlling the defense of the United States.
He said the most important thing the Patriot Act has done is tear down the wall between law enforcement and intelligence, "so that our right hand could know what our left hand was doing."
"If it did nothing else but tear down that wall it would have been a very successful and valuable thing," Ashcroft said.
According to Ally Isom, co-coordinator of the event, Ashcroft normally charges $75,000 to speak. However, after an invitation from Hatch, he charged no fee and insisted that he be invited again.
Congress established Law Day, usually celebrated on May 1, in 1961 as a day of celebration by the American people in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States.
Shurtleff also introduced and awarded the first Cicero Award, named for one of his favorite philosophers, that is intended to recognize an attorney in the private sector for remarkable professional accomplishments and outstanding character.
This year the award went to Lou Callister, chairman emeritus of Callister, Nebeker and McCullough, for establishing a foundation that helps with substance abuse.
Ed and Lois Smart were also recognized for their contribution to the Amber Alert system, and Elizabeth Smart performed on the harp.