Americans' Changing Legal Freedoms

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, September 11, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: President Bush says the spread of freedom is one of the keys to the war on terror. How have our legal freedoms changed in the past two years here?

Let's ask FOX News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano (search). I know you've been teeing up on this and getting ready. What have we lost while were trying to chase terrorists?

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: The federal government has lost respect for the rule of law. In its zeal, its noble zeal, it's well-intentioned zeal to get rid of the bad guys who could be living next door to us, we don't know, it has found subtle, ingenious, and even insidious ways to bypass the courts, to bypass the Congress and, even worst of all, to bypass the Constitution. And that's how we have suffered legally since 9/11.

GIBSON: You are wielding a heavy hammer here, Judge.


GIBSON: … You're saying that the United States government has gone rogue on its own people?

NAPOLITANO: I wouldn't put it quite so harshly. I would say the United States government has looked for ways to find the bad guys even if that means evading the Constitution. Example — the attorney general wants to issue warrants and subpoenas himself even though the Constitution says you have to go to a judge. Example — the attorney general [John Ashcroft (search)] has advised his lawyers to disobey orders issued by judges if, in his and their opinion, it would impair national security. Example — the attorney general told Tony Snow today that if we've got a terrorist in court and we think we're going to lose the case, we'll pull him out of court and send him to another court where he'll be convicted before military soldiers. We've never done that.

GIBSON: We are going to continue this. And don't forget, Lincoln lifted habeas corpus (search).

NAPOLITANO: More when we come back.

GIBSON: Judge Andrew Napolitano.

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