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SLUG: 2-280964 Congress / Terrorism (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=9/24/01

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=CONGRESS / TERRORISM (L)

NUMBER=2-280964

BYLINE=DEBORAH TATE

DATELINE=CAPITOL HILL

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: U-S Attorney General John Ashcroft Monday pressed U-S lawmakers for quick passage of the Bush administration's proposals to crack down on terrorism. At a Congressional hearing, Mr. Ashcroft also updated lawmakers on the progress of the investigation into the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Correspondent Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

TEXT: At a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Ashcroft told members of Congress that 352 people have been arrested or detained in connection with the September 11th attacks. He said he believed those in custody have information about the terrorist incidents.

Mr. Ashcroft said nearly 400 other people were being sought for questioning.

He also confirmed that crop-dusting planes were grounded for a second day Monday because of fears they could be used in a chemical or biological attack.

/// ASHCROFT ACTUALITY ///

The F-B-I (Federal Bureau of Investigation) assesses the use of this type of aircraft to distribute chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction as potential threats to Americans.

/// END ACT ///

The Attorney General said one of the suspected hijackers involved in the attacks, Mohamed Atta, had been seeking information on the use of crop-dusters. He added that another person now in custody had downloaded information about the planes from the internet.

Mr. Ashcroft also used his appearance before the committee to urge passage of the administration's proposals to fight terrorism.

/// ASHCROFT ACTUALITY ///

It is our position at the Justice Department and the position of this administration that we need to unleash every possible tool in the fight against terrorism and to do so promptly because our awareness indicates that we are vulnerable and that our vulnerability is elevated as long as we don't have the tools we need to have.

/// END ACT ///

The administration's proposals would, among other things, give law enforcement officials greater powers in telephone and computer surveillance.

Some Democrats, like John Conyers of Michigan, expressed concern that such proposals would violate privacy rights.

/// CONYERS ACTUALITY ///

There are a number of provisions in your measure that give us Constitutional trouble.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Ashcroft argued the proposals would uphold Constitutional guarantees.

The administration's anti-terrorism package also calls for stiffer penalties for those who harbor terrorists. (signed)

NEB/DAT/RH



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