RealNews

Lawmakers Approve Expansion of F.B.I.'s Antiterrorism Powers

Congressional negotiators approved a measure on Wednesday to expand the F.B.I.’s counterterrorism powers, despite concerns from some lawmakers who said that the measure gave the government too much authority and that the public had been shut out of the debate. The measure gives the Federal Bureau of Investigation greater authority to demand records from businesses in terrorism cases without the approval of a judge or a grand jury. While banks, credit unions and other financial institutions are currently subject to such demands, the measure expands the list to include car dealers, pawnbrokers, travel agents, casinos and other businesses. The expansion, included in the 2004 authorization bill for intelligence agencies, has already been approved by both the House and the Senate, and lawmakers from both chambers approved the provision as part of the larger bill in a private session late Wednesday, officials said. Law enforcement officials said the F.B.I. would gain greater speed and flexibility in tracing suspected terrorist money. Full Story

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