President Bush is calling for changes in U.S. law to make it easier for law enforcement
authorities to investigate and prosecute suspected terrorists. They include tools
already used to get mobsters, drug-traffickers and embezzlers.
The president expects to observe the second anniversary of the September
11 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States in a quiet, solemn way.
But the day before all the prayer services, vigils and commemorative events,
he spoke out about the lives lost, and the resulting war on terrorism.
"The attacks on this nation revealed the intentions of a determined and ruthless
enemy that still plots against our people," he said. "The forces of global
terror cannot be appeased, and they cannot be ignored."
Mr. Bush noted that shortly after the September 11 attacks he signed legislation
strengthening the hand of law enforcement in tracking down and prosecuting
suspected terrorists. Mr. Bush said time has shown more steps are needed.
"For the sake of the American people, congress should change the law and
give law enforcement officials the same tools they have to fight terror that
they have to fight other crime," he said.
He outlined his request during a visit to an FBI facility in Quantico, Virginia,
a short helicopter ride from the White House. Mr. Bush said there are certain
disparities in the law that make no sense.
He said in cases of medical fraud and drug trafficking, investigators can
bypass a judge when they need authority to conduct a search quickly or obtain
documents that could be destroyed. He said law enforcement needs that tool
to fight terrorism. To help prosecutors, the president wants bail revoked for
terror suspects, and the federal death penalty expanded to include terror-related
"Under existing law, the death penalty applies to many serious crimes that
result in death including sexual abuse and certain drug related offenses. Some
terrorist crimes that result in death do not qualify for capital punishment," he
Critics have argued such steps would erode civil liberties. But the president
said they are needed to combat terrorism, and can withstand any legal challenge.
"These and other measures have long been on the books for other crimes," he
said. "They have been tested by time, affirmed by the court and what we are
proposing is fully consistent with the United States Constitution."
His comments came shortly after the White House released a 22 page booklet
outlining progress in the war on terrorism. It lists all the steps taken since
September 11, 2001 to fight the terrorist threat, including military intervention
in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it concludes by saying victory will only come
through a sustained international effort.