People indicted on terror charges will have a much harder time getting free
on bail under a provision in the new intelligence bill. The provision also
broadens the government's authority to spy on terror suspects.
Critics say the enforcement powers, attached to the bill with little debate
in Congress, weaken civil liberties and privacy rights that already were
undermined by the Patriot Act that was approved shortly after the Sept. 11
The new legislation broadens prohibitions against providing material
support to terror groups, makes it a crime to visit a terror camp that
provides military-style training and allows the FBI to obtain secret
surveillance warrants against "lone wolf" extremists not known to be tied
to a specific terrorist group. It also makes terrorism hoaxes a federal
crime and toughens penalties against people who possess weapons of mass
Critics say the provisions escaped close scrutiny because they were tucked
into the massive bill creating a new national intelligence director.
"Overall, it's another threat to civil liberties in this country," said
Charlie Mitchell, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties
Union. "It's just a continuation of what the administration's been doing."
Under the bill, a legal presumption would be established denying bail for
anyone indicted by a grand jury on terrorism charges. Although the suspect
could appeal to a judge, the burden of proof would be on the defendant to
show release would be prudent...
Skeptics say the provision has the potential to be abused, possibly
resulting in long detentions for people ultimately found innocent.
"Unfortunately, this Justice Department has a record of abusing its
detention powers post-9/11 and of making terrorism allegations that turn
out to have no merit," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis