Detainees walk in the court yard at Camp 4 inside of the maximum security prison Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, August 26, 2004. (AP/Mark Wilson, Pool)
Two events this week focus the national debate on the delicate balance between national security and individual liberties in the war on terrorism. One was a ruling by a federal judge that the military commissions set up to prosecute detainees at Guantanamo lack the basic elements of a fair trial and violate the Geneva Conventions. The other event was the resignation of Attorney General John Ashcroft, who has been both praised and vilified for the Patriot Act and other legal changes since September 11th.
"The attorney generals are often controversial, but this one has been in particular. What do you think is John Ashcroft's legacy and how long is it going to last?"
"I associate his legacy with a lot of artful dodging around the Geneva Convention. Secondly, he arrested over 5,000 people on this soil with only a few convictions on terrorist activities. Third, for the Patriot Act."
"Calling it a Patriot Act was a disaster. What John Ashcroft did reflected a seriousness of intent appropriate to September 11. We did not have time to set up a commission and figure out how we were going to respond."
"I think he will be seen finally in a legacy assessment as a man who broke up terror cells, as a man who went to court for all of his most controversial positions."