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Ashcroft defends crackdown on suspected terrorists

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In the same week the Bush administration froze assets of the largest Muslim charity in the United States, Attorney General John Ashcroft will face questions on Capitol Hill about whether the Justice Department has gone too far in cracking down on suspected terrorists.


The Bush administration Tuesday froze the U.S. assets of a Texas-based Islamic, saying the organization acts as a front to finance the militant wing of the Palestinian group Hamas.

"By freezing the financial apparatus of Hamas, we signal that the United States of America will not be used as a staging ground for the financing of those groups that violently oppose peace as a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict," Attorney General John Ashcroft said. "We won't tolerate it any more than we will tolerate the financing of groups that on September 11 attacked our homeland." (Full story)

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said Tuesday the latest warning of the possibility of another terrorist attack was precipitated by a "convergence of information" received over the past several days. Ridge issued the security alert Monday, the third such government warning since the September 11 attacks. (Full story)

Since the attacks, Ashcroft has helped push legislation through Congress providing broad new powers to wiretap phones, monitor Internet traffic and apprehend suspects. He also proposed creating military tribunals to try non-citizens suspected of terrorism.

Ashcroft faces a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday in which he will be questioned about antiterrorism measures critics say undermine basic civil liberties.

A Salvadoran immigrant pleaded guilty Tuesday to having helped two of the suspected September 11 hijackers obtain false identification cards. Herbert Villalobos, 35, admitted that on August 2 he drove alleged hijackers Abdul Azziz Alomari and Ahmed Saleh Alghambi to a local attorney's office to obtain forms for Virginia identification documents. (Full story)

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Attack on America
 CNN NewsPass Video 
Agencies reportedly got hijack tips in 1998
Intelligence intercept led to Buffalo suspects
Report cites warnings before 9/11
Timeline: Who Knew What and When?
Interactive: Terror Investigation
Terror Warnings System
Most wanted terrorists
What looks suspicious?
In-Depth: America Remembers
In-Depth: Terror on Tape
In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk


What order did President Bush give that allows for the detention of terrorism suspects? Click here for more

Could the detainees be held for years? Click here to learn more on one case

Learn about one tool the FBI may be using to investigate suspects.

What is the government doing to fortify homeland defense? Click here for more

What are tips to know in the wake of the attacks? Click here for more


George W. Bush: U.S. president Click here for more.

Laura Bush: First lady of the United States, she has become more visible since the terrorist attacks, making public appearances urging parents and teachers to help reassure children that everything is being done to try to keep them safe. Click here for more

Tom Ridge: Director of the U.S. Office of Homeland Security, a new Cabinet-level position Click here for more

Richard Clarke: Head of efforts to safeguard information systems for the Office of Homeland Security Click here for more

Wayne Downing: Retired Army general tapped as deputy national security adviser Click here for more

Joe Allbaugh:The chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Click here for more

Dr. David Satcher: Surgeon General of the United States

Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan: Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Click here for more

Rudy Giuliani: Mayor of New York Click here for more

Michael Bloomberg: Mayor-elect of New York

Anthony A. Williams: Mayor of Washington

Dr. Ivan Walks: Director of the Department of Health for the District of Columbia

Paul O'Neill: Treasury secretary

Norman Y. Mineta:Transportation secretary

Jane Garvey: FAA administrator


The latest figures provided by federal and local officials give the following numbers of people dead or missing from the September 11 attacks.

WORLD TRADE CENTER: According to New York City officials, 3,380 people are missing and presumed dead, including the 157 on the two hijacked planes; and 460 bodies have been identified.

PENTAGON: 64 dead on hijacked plane; another 125 missing and presumed dead

PENNSYLVANIA: 44 confirmed dead on hijacked plane


The attacks of September 11 have sparked new debate about balancing the protection of U.S. citizens with the protection of the civil rights of those suspected of terrorism.

While the United States is proud of the freedoms and the legal rights guaranteed by the Constitution, authorities and many citizens have argued those people who seek to destroy America do not deserve such protections while they represent an ongoing threat to the country.

While those arguments continue, so do the threats against U.S. interests. Security remains high at airports, certain industries and many government facilities.


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