ACLU Tells House Judiciary Panel That Administration Seeks Reasonable Anti-Terrorism Tools and Troubling Provisions

September 24, 2001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — In a presentation today to the House Judiciary Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union said that the Administration’s proposed counter-terrorism legislation includes both reasonable measures to give law enforcement authorities the necessary tools to investigate terrorism as well as other provisions that go far beyond addressing the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

“Congress must take every reasonable step it can to protect our nation against future attacks,” said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel who participated in a briefing for members of the Judiciary Committee. “But it is a mistake to assume that many of the expanded police powers sought in the bill are going to make us safer.”

The ACLU was one of several organizations invited to a closed-door briefing for the House Judiciary Committee. Although King thanked the committee for holding the briefing, she expressed concern that the Congress is moving too quickly and urged the Judiciary Committee to engage in a thorough and deliberative analysis of the Administration’s proposed legislation.

“The civil liberties we value so much as a society are at stake,” she said, “and we urge you to go slowly.”

At its request, King limited her comments to the Judiciary Committee to some of the more troubling criminal justice provisions of the Administration’s proposal. Among them are measures that would dramatically expand law enforcement’s ability to do secret searches and would expand the government’s ability to seize assets in non-terrorism-related cases.

The ACLU said that several of the Administration’s proposed measures were non-objectionable, including those that would prohibit the harboring of terrorists and providing support for terrorism by rendering expert advice and assistance.

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