These two articles, one, an address by Attorney General John Ashcroft to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and the other, an article written by David Cole that appeared on the Amnesty International web site, deal with the ethics and Constitutionality of the United Stated Patriot Act. David Cole, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, argues that the Patriot Act violates citizen’s civil rights and unfairly imprisons innocent individuals. Attorney General John Ashcroft counters that the Patriot Act is justified as a preventive measure to aid in the war on terrorism.
Differences in Facts/Interpretation of Facts
Both authors try to put an exact number on the number of individuals that have been detained sine the inception of the Patriot Act to suit their respective arguments. David Cole states that the Justice Department had the number at 1,147 less than two months into the Justice Department’s investigation. The Justice Department, according to Cole, reportedly “responded by simply stopping its practice of announcing the running tally” (p3) due to “mounting criticism over the scope of the roundup”. (p3) Attorney General John Ashcroft gives a substantially lower number of individuals. In three month’s time, he states that 60 individuals had been placed into federal custody, and that 563 have been detained due to immigration violations. (p17) Attorney General John Ashcroft states that the Patriot Act is Constitutionally sound, and that he and the Justice Department work closely with Congress and brief them with any developments that come as a result of the Patriot Act. David Cole counters that the detainees are denied their Constitutional right to due process, are held with no contact with legal counsel, and that their hearing are held in secret with no legal observers, press, or family allowed to be in attendance. (p5)
Differences in Values
The arguments made by both parties clearly define their respective beliefs and loyalties. Attorney General John Ashcroft states in no uncertain terms that his office requires him to “exercise these core executive powers the Constitution so designates” (p37). He would like us to believe that the Patriot Act is justified because it will save the lives of Americans, and that his primary concern(s) are to God and Country. David Cole is quite a contrast to Ashcroft’s nationalistic views and actions, seemingly more concerned with the civil liberties of the individuals the Patriot Act has targeted and detained. It seems as if Attorney General John Ashcroft has made an exception to certain due process procedures due to our current wartime environment,...