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Ashcroft defends crackdown on suspected terrorists

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Improving the economy and fortifying domestic security measures remain pressing issues on Capitol Hill. U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft defended new antiterror legal measures Thursday to congressional leaders as passage of an economic stimulus bill remained in limbo. Law enforcement officials report that heightened security measures and investigations have hindered drug trafficking and yielded the arrest of a man suspected of mailing hundreds of anthrax hoax letters.


Congressmen, primarily Democrats, and human rights groups are questioning new legal measures, such as license to eavesdrop on attorneys' conversations and trials by military tribunals, promoted by the Bush administration in cases involving suspected terrorism. Consequently, Ashcroft appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee headed by Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy to defend the measures. (Full story)

White House officials insist that the practices are necessary to keep Americans safe. A federal agency has reported the increased scrutiny has had the unexpected impact of curbing the domestic drug trade. U.S. Customs Service Commissioner Robert Bonner said drug seizures in the Caribbean are up 30 percent over last year because drug runners are reluctant to use heavily patrolled border crossings between Mexico and the United States. (Full story)

The nation's governors said they need more federal money to implement tougher security measures. The National Governors Association estimated that the first year of homeland security alone will cost the states $4 billion. That breaks down to $3 billion for fighting bioterrorism and emergency communications and $1 billion for guarding critical infrastructure. (Full story)

Republican House leaders tried to persuade reluctant Democrats to support a key trade bill in the hours before a scheduled Thursday vote by promising to boost benefits to unemployed workers displaced by the September 11 terrorist attacks, the recession, or the impact of freer trade. (Full story)

The Senate majority leader has committed to keep that chamber in session until it passes an economic stimulus bill. The bill is among a full slate of legislation that must be completed before Congress adjourns for the year. The long legislative list includes competing bills that Republicans and Democrats say are priorities in the wake of a recession and the September 11 terror attacks. (Full story)

Developments in the anthrax investigation include an arrest of an anti-abortion fugitive suspected of mailing hundreds of anthrax hoax letters to women's health clinics. (Full story) Also, scientists and experts are opening a letter containing anthrax, sent to a U.S. senator. The process will take several days. (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, the death toll is 3,075. That figure includes 2,593 people who are missing and presumed dead, including the 157 on the two hijacked planes; 482 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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