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John Ashcroft: I’m Willing To Be Waterboarded

John Ashcroft: I’m Willing To Be Waterboarded

Rocky Mountain News
November 28, 2007

Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on Tuesday night defended the need for the USA Patriot Act, saying that since Sept. 11, 2001, there has been a new “paradigm of peril.”

“The old type of systems allowed to happen to us what happened to us on 9/11,” he said.

Ashcroft spoke to more than 800 students and community members at Macky Auditorium Tuesday night at the University of Colorado.

Members of Students for Peace and Justice staged a silent protest at Ashcroft’s speech, and a number of people heckled Ashcroft, sometimes snorting in derision, at other times shouting challenges. In many cases, the heckler was escorted out of the auditorium by student ushers.

Ashcroft talked about the events that led to the Patriot Act. The day after 9/11, “the president said, ‘Do not let this happen again,’ ” Ashcroft said.

“Let’s look at the law and see what we can do that would help us. We need to think differently, think outside the box . . . never think outside the Constitution.”

When that comment was met with boos, Ashcroft responded: “Whooping and hollering in an auditorium will not get that done.”

Ashcroft said that the Patriot Act “makes perfect sense.”

This is the kind of thing that we have lived comfortably with in fighting organized crime and drug dealers. We hadn’t understood the need . . . to fight against terror.”

Ashcroft also responded to questions from the audience. The first question came from a woman who asked if Ashcroft would be willing to be subjected to waterboarding.

“The things that I can survive, if it were necessary to do them to me, I would do,” he said.

Ashcroft was also asked if he knew during his tenure about abuse in Abu Ghraib prison. “How was I to know what was happening in a prison in Iraq?” he said. “The Justice Department does not run prisons in foreign lands.”

However, he apologized for what did occur there. “I’m sorry about Abu Ghraib – it was hurting the United States,” he said.

Ashcroft also defended the incarceration of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay. “Yes, it’s a good place for them,” he said. “You detain people you don’t want to enter the stream of battle. It’s a new kind of battle: They don’t wear uniforms; they attack civilians.”

 


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