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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Alberto R. Gonzales
Attorney General
April 12, 2005

Alberto R. Gonzales
Good afternoon. I am pleased to be able to answer your questions today. As you know, I testified before Congress last week regarding the renewal of 16 provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. I look forward to continuing this dialogue with you so that we can help to keep America safe from terrorism while protecting our civil liberties. Ok, let's get started.

Teresa, from Middleburg, VA writes:
Mr. Gonzales, how has your role in serving the President changed from being his lawyer to being his Attorney General? Thank you for your time

Alberto R. Gonzales
Good question, Teresa. My role has indeed changed since being confirmed as Attorney General. While I was Counsel to the President I served as the President’s lawyer. As Attorney General my primary allegiance is now to the Constitution and the American people.

Chris, from Connecticut writes:
Attorney General Gonzales,I feel like I hear so many different sides of the Patriot Act. Could you please tell me exactly what it is, why we have it, and when it was enacted?

Thank you for the facts.

Alberto R. Gonzales
Thanks for your question, Chris. The Patriot Act was enacted with great care and overwhelming bipartisan support in October of 2001. The act provides law enforcement and intelligence investigations with additional necessary tools to protect America.

Kevin, from Boyton Beach,Florida writes:
Do you meet with President Bush daily?

Alberto R. Gonzales
The President has an extremely busy schedule. I do not meet with him daily, although we do meet regularly.

Daniel, from Lakeville, CT writes:
Hi Mr. Gonzales, I am 15 years old and very interested in politics and the law. Has the Patriot Act stopped potential terrorist attacks? Thanks.

Alberto R. Gonzales
Thanks for your question, Daniel. Yes, the Patriot Act has, in my judgment, been a factor in disrupting the work of potential terrorists.

Anthony, from Jacksonville, NC writes:
Why does this administration feel they should forego judicial reveiw as a part of the Patriot Act? Also do you believe that there are elements of the intelegence community who would misuse this bill for their own purposes since there appears to be very little or nothing to keep these elements in check?

Alberto R. Gonzales
Anthony, most of the authorities granted by the Patriot Act have to be exercised under the jurisdiction and supervision of federal judges. All Patriot Act provisions contain safeguards such as congressional oversight and court approval.

Brian, from Erlanger, KY writes:
I was wondering what you have to say to the critics of the patriot act, who think that it is illeagle, or unconstitutional. Thank You

Alberto R. Gonzales
There is much confusion about the provisions of the Act and I hope to inform the American public about the safeguards contained in the Act. Various provisions have already been challenged and upheld in our courts. No information obtained through Patriot Act Authorities has been suppressed in court.

Rick, from Worcester, Mass writes:
Sir, Congratulations on your confirmation. Despite the cries of those who are opposed to the Patriot Act, I do not know anyone who has been affected by it in a negative manner. What would you say to those who irrationally oppose this Act?

Alberto R. Gonzales
Thank you for the question. Our country was founded by individuals concerned about the government exercise of power. Debate about the PATRIOT Act is healthy and should be welcomed, but it should be based on facts. I believe the facts demonstrate that the Department of Justice has used the authorities under the PATRIOT Act with a great deal of care.

Josh, from Channahon, Illinois writes:
First I would like to say that I love my country more than anything in this world and I plan on serving soon.How can an act which suspends our freedoms outlined in the bill of rights, meant I am assuming, to protect the American people, be a step forward? I clearly see this act as a violation of my civil rights and do not see how it is helping our fine nation. Could you please explain.

Alberto R. Gonzales
The Act does not suspend our freedoms. Various courts have already held that the Act is consistent with our Constitutional freedoms. The Act reflects a careful balance by Congress to protect our country and secure our liberties.

Erin, from Mt. Pleasant Michigan writes:
What are some of the bigest falsehoods of the PA? I feel lots of people are misinformed, thus causing them to be completely against the PA.

Alberto R. Gonzales
Unfortunately, you’re right—there have been a number of “myths” perpetrated about the PATRIOT Act. It’s our duty as government officials to do our best to explain to the American public why the USA PATRIOT Act is important and how it works. In an effort to be as informative as possible, the Department of Justice website has a section entirely dedicated to the USA PATRIOT Act and its use. That information can be found at There you will find fact sheets dispelling many of the myths about the PATRIOT Act, as well as text of the law itself and an explanation of how and why it was drafted and implemented with the overwhelming bi-partisan support of Congress.

I encourage all Americans with questions about the USA PATRIOT Act to visit

Brian, from Washington writes:
Thank you so much for answering our questions has to be the best website in the world. I understand the need for the Patriot Act, but isn't making it permanent a form of terrorist influence in the United States. I believe that the war on terror will be won someday and the provisions of the patriot act will no longer be necessary. Should not the provisions be temporary and renewed as needed?

Alberto R. Gonzales
Congress always has the discretion and authority, with or without a sunset provision (a provision that expires after a set period of time), to eliminate a law that is no longer necessary or is being misused.




Alberto R. Gonzales
The PATRIOT Act is a law that “codifies” law enforcement actions or operations in a way that aids law enforcement in terrorism and criminal investigations. The USA PATRIOT Act is a law enforcement tool, rather than a government spending program passed by Congress, so its applications and uses are not specifically funded, section by section, in the federal budget.

The Department of Justice’s budget is, subject to the appropriations authority of the U.S. Congress, and we work in close cooperation with members of Congress about budgetary needs related to all law enforcement actions.

Alberto R. Gonzales
Thank you for your excellent questions. I appreciate your interest in this important issue, and I know that we will continue to discuss the importance of this law during the upcoming months. For more information on the USA PATRIOT Act, please view

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