NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Coalition Opposes Federal Anti-Terrorism Plans

September 21, 2001

Bush administration plans to rewrite immigration and surveillance laws have drawn fire from an unusual coalition. The Justice Department wants:

  • Broad new wiretapping authority and the power to deport immigrants without court review of the evidence.
  • Authority to seize evidence from terrorist suspects -- including DNA samples.
  • The ability to seize the assets of foreign governments suspected of aiding terrorists, and to gain wider access to educational records and tax returns.
  • Authority to use information collected by foreign governments against American citizens even if the information was obtained by techniques that violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against illegal searches and seizures.

A coalition including the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way on the left and Gun Owners of America and the Rutherford Institute on the right joined in a statement asking Congress "to consider proposals calmly and deliberately with a determination not to erode the civil liberties and freedom that are at the core of the American way of life."

Other legal experts and scholars say the complaints were "distressing and uninformed."

Response to terrorist activities may also give racial profiling wider approval from the courts. In response to civil liberties lawyers who condemn the practice, a number of experts responded that no reasonable interpretation of the Constitution would prevent law officials from using it. Said one, "Investigating means following hunches."

Source: Philip Shenon and Neil A. Lewis, "Groups Fault Plan to Listen, Search and Seize," and William Glaberson, "Racial Profiling May Get Wider Approval by Courts," both New York Times, September 21, 2001.


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