During the presidential campaign, the Associated Press frequently picks an issue and asks the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates a question about it. Today's question and responses:
PATRIOT ACT: Should the Patriot Act be changed to strengthen anti-terrorism protections, civil liberties or both? If so, how?
President Bush: "The USA Patriot Act is a powerful tool in the war on terror. Passed with sweeping bipartisan support in 2001, it provides law enforcement and intelligence communities with some of the same tools used to fight drug kingpins and organized crime, and allows for the enhanced coordination and information-sharing necessary to fight terrorism. The Patriot Act has already been used to help break up terror cells in New York, Oregon, and Virginia. Safeguards for civil liberties, including traditional judicial review, are built into the Patriot Act. Not a single civil liberties violation associated with the Patriot Act has been cited by the inspector general. Because it has been used effectively and responsibly, I have called upon the United States Congress to promptly renew the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act."
Democrat John Kerry: "We're going to crush the terrorists and make sure that here at home and around the world we have every tool to go get them before they get us. As president, I will defend our liberty and our security at home as well as abroad. I will appoint an attorney general who values and protects constitutional freedoms. I believe some provisions of the Patriot Act like the money laundering provisions must be made stronger. Others like the library and 'sneak-and-peek' search provisions must be made smarter, to better protect the freedom of law-abiding patriotic Americans while allowing our government to do everything necessary to track down terrorists and defend America. As president, I will ensure that the American government is open and responsive to the needs and inquiries of Congress and the public, offering enough information to hold the government accountable without compromising our security."