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Civil Liberties Debates

October 24, 2003 • Volume 13, Issue 37
Are rights being lost in the war on terrorism?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

Attorney General John Ashcroft made a series of speeches in August and September aimed at rebutting criticism of the administration's tactics since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that critics say are compromising the individual rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.  (AFP Photo/Ruben Gamarra)
Attorney General John Ashcroft made a series of speeches in August and September aimed at rebutting criticism of the administration's tactics since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that critics say are compromising the individual rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. (AFP Photo/Ruben Gamarra)

The Bush administration is facing strong criticism from civil liberties advocates on both the left and the right for its legal tactics in the war on terrorism. Critics charge the administration with infringing on constitutional rights by holding two U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants” without access to lawyers. Hundreds of foreigners captured in Afghanistan are also being held at Guantánamo Naval Base for trial before military tribunals. Some members of Congress are rethinking provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the sweeping law passed after the 9/11 attacks that expanded the government's search-and-surveillance powers in terrorism cases. Attorney General John Ashcroft is vigorously defending the law as an essential counterterrorism tool. So far, courts have generally upheld the administration's actions, but several legal challenges are pending.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Civil Liberties in Wartime
Oct. 24, 2003  Civil Liberties Debates
Dec. 14, 2001  Civil Liberties in Wartime
Oct. 15, 1940  Civil Liberties in War Emergencies
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Domestic Issues
International Law and Agreements
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