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Attorney General John Ashcroft Discusses John Walker Lindh Case

Aired February 6, 2002 - 13:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, getting word that Attorney General John Ashcroft is right now answering questions that are being posed to him about the John walker Lindh case. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

QUESTION: His attorney has asserted that government has essentially pulled out a cannon and, in his words, to get a mouse, in this case, meaning that his client may not be -- or his case may not rise to the level of seriousness which you ascribe to it.

Can you respond to that?

ASHCROFT: Well, I would just say that I was very pleased with the judge's ruling in Alexandria this morning. We outlined the indictment against Walker Lindh yesterday, and the American people can be confident that Walker Lindh will receive every protection under the Constitution in our courtrooms and that justice will be served.

And I think it's best for us to undertake this case with the kind of seriousness that we believe it deserves and the kind of seriousness that we believe the courts will give it.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: General Ashcroft, today Walker Lindh's lawyers complained that you had gone too far yesterday. You even violated Department of Justice protocol in the way and manner in which you describe his case. Can you just react to that?

ASHCROFT: I would just say that I'm pleased with the way the court handled this matter this morning. We will litigate this matter very seriously. We consider these offenses to be serious, and our approach will be a serious approach.

QUESTION: Well, what about the sort of allegation that you had gone too far in this case in your comments yesterday?

ASHCROFT: I believe that the court is handling this case appropriately. We'll litigate this case further in court.

QUESTION: I had another terrorism-related question. Last Thursday, in Tennessee, FBI agents -- you may or may not be aware of this story, and I'm looking for a comment -- FBI agents announced they had bought 900 law enforcement badges, including badges of FBI agents, Secret Service, state and local law enforcement agents, off the Internet.

Are you aware of the story, A? B, are you concerned about the ability of people, possibly terrorists, to buy badges of law enforcement agents off the Internet? C, what's the legality around this? And, D, do you support any restrictions against...

ASHCROFT: Well, you know, in a variety of law enforcement settings, whether it be the kind of security we need at our borders or other settings, fraudulent documents are a challenge.

And any kind of fraudulent, misleading document that would encourage or otherwise provide a basis for individuals to do what they should not otherwise do are a matter of concern to us, yes.

Thank you.

HARRIS: Attorney General John Ashcroft there ending his comments there to the press, answering some questions about the John Walker Lindh case yesterday, the developments yesterday, that we get word that the judge in this case has denied bail which was requested by Lindh's attorneys yesterday. And here, Attorney General Ashcroft saying he is pleased with the judge's ruling against the bail. He says it is now best now to undertake this case with the seriousness that this case does deserve. He also was not very responsive to questions about the allegations made by Lindh's attorneys about comments that the attorney general made about the threat Lindh that represents to the country. The attorneys saying that perhaps that the attorney general went too far in his comments, and of course, there was no response to that.

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