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GOP wants more teeth in terrorist bill

Aug. 21, 2003 at 8:34 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans are talking over proposed legislation that would expand Justice Department powers to investigate terrorists and drug criminals.

Their discussions are under way as Attorney General John D. Ashcroft starts a barnstorming tour of the country to shore up support for existing anti-terrorism laws, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Recent drafts of the Victory Act, which carry the names of Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and four other Senate Republicans, would provide extra penalties for drug dealers accused of being connected to terrorist groups. They also would dramatically expand the government's power to seize records and conduct wiretaps in connection with "narcoterrorism" investigations.

Also targeted would be "interstate currency couriers," making it a crime to carry more than $10,000 cash in a vehicle in connection with illegal activity. Prosecutors also would be able to freeze the assets of defendants arrested on money-laundering charges for 30 days.

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