Ashcroft tour to plug terror bill
WASHINGTON - Attorney General John Ashcroft is hitting the road to rally support for the Victory Act, which would further expand his powers to go after Al Qaeda and narcoterrorists, the Daily News has learned.
Ashcroft will starting pushing the Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act later this month in a 10-day, 20-state Victory tour that includes a stop in New York.
But the nation's top cop is facing tough opposition from critics on both the right and left, who fear Ashcroft is eroding civil rights.
The Justice Department's reach was vastly increased by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks with the Patriot Act.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is expected to introduce the Victory Act next month. If passed, the feds would be allowed to:
# Clamp down on Arab hawala transactions, where cash exchanged in an honor system has been funneled to terrorists.
# Get business records without a court order in terrorism probes and delay notification.
# Track wireless communications with a roving warrant.
# Increase sentences for drug kingpins to 40 years in prison and $4 million in fines.
James Gordon Meek
Originally published on August 6, 2003