Bush’s legal counselor offers hope to BYU law students

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    By Cathy Collette

    Amidst toil and turmoil in the world, a high-ranking legal counselor for President George W. Bush offered hope and a bright future Thursday to BYU law students.

    “I believe, as I know you do, that good principled decisions will lead each and every one of you to a very good place personally and professionally,” said David Leitch, Deputy Assistant to President Bush. “I know that the future continues to hold better things for you.”

    This encouragement comes as attitudes and procedures have changed in the White House because of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Having a dog sniff his car for bombs and passing through four security checkpoints before he can reach a parking spot has become a daily ritual for Leitch since Sept. 11.

    “It serves as a daily reminder of the times in which we live and the significance of the building in which I go to work each day,” Leitch said. “By the time I pass my fourth checkpoint each morning, I seem to feel not fear and caution as one would expect, but awe and inspiration.”

    Leitch said those who were in the White House the day of the attacks forever changed their perspective on life and death and good and evil.

    Quoting Winston Churchill, Leitch said, “There is nothing more exhilarating then to be shot at without result.”

    Leitch said it also has a way of focusing one”s mind and effort.

    “Certainly our president has demonstrated such focus and resolve against those who have targeted our country,” he said. “We are a nation at war with terrorists who seek to destroy us. The president is determined to win the war.”

    Leitch named three changes that have been made under President Bush”s legislation to defeat terrorists.

    The first change, the Patriot Act, increases penalties for terrorist crimes, tracks terrorists worldwide and allows different parts of the government to share information.

    Critics of the act say it threatens American citizens” way of life.

    However, Leitch said no evidence suggests any abuse as a result of the Patriot Act.

    The second difference is the detention of enemy combatants in Cuba.

    Leitch said the process is fully consistent with the laws of war.

    “I am confident any abuse of prisoners in Cuba is taking place on the other side of the fence — Castro”s Cuba,” he said.

    Leitch said the third difference, detaining American citizens in the United States because of their involvement with terrorists, has caused the most controversy.

    Leitch said protecting the rights of the Constitution is not only President Bush”s responsibility, but of all American citizens.

    “I”m always reminded of the awesome responsibility that the president has and the corresponding duty upon all of us to serve him,” Leitch said. “But the burden of protecting this country and securing the rights of the Constitution is not ours alone. American citizens also play an important role in protecting and defending the Constitution”s precious precepts.

    Daniel Ure, president of BYU”s chapter of the Federalist Society, said Leitch”s comments helped to educate the public.

    “Most people follow the mass hysteria and the media, and they don”t get into the nitty-gritty of what is actually happening,” Ure said. “I thought Mr. Leitch provided great justification for the Patriot Act.”

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