Ashcroft defends anti-terror tactics before senators

Friday, December 7, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General John Ashcroft defended military courts, detentions and a host of other anti-terrorism measures Thursday, saying they are necessary to thwart terrorists who are on U.S. soil "waiting to kill again."

"One option is to call Sept. 11 a fluke and to live in a dream world that requires us to do nothing different," Ashcroft told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The other option is to fight back."

Holding up an al-Qaida terrorist manual, Ashcroft said members of Osama bin Laden's network are exploiting America's openness.

Ashcroft said the Bush administration's stern new policies are fair and accused his critics of trying to scare the public into believing that civil liberties are in jeopardy.

"Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity," said Ashcroft.

The committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Congress should have more say in the new policies.

"The need for congressional oversight is not to protect terrorists," he said. "It is to make sure that our government has good reason before snooping into our bank records, our tax returns or our e-mails."

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