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Bush Seeks to Expand Access to Private Data

For months, President Bush’s advisers have assured a skittish public that law-abiding Americans have no reason to fear the long reach of the antiterrorism law known as the Patriot Act because its most intrusive measures would require a judge’s sign-off. But in a plan announced this week to expand counterterrorism powers, President Bush adopted a very different tack. In a three-point presidential plan that critics are already dubbing Patriot Act II, Mr. Bush is seeking broad new authority to allow federal agents without the approval of a judge or even a federal prosecutor to demand private records and compel testimony. Mr. Bush also wants to expand the use of the death penalty in crimes like terrorist financing, and he wants to make it tougher for defendants in such cases to be freed on bail before trial. These proposals are also sure to prompt sharp debate, even among Republicans. Full Story

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