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web posted October 29, 2001

Canadian PM rules out sunset clause in terror bill

Prime Minister Jean Chretien says there's no need to put safeguards into newly proposed anti-terrorist legislation to ensure some of the more extreme measures have an expiration date.

The anti-terrorist legislation, tabled by Justice Minister Anne McLellan, proposes, among other things, to allow police to arrest anyone if they're about to commit a terrorist act — even without a warrant.

Critics of the legislation, who say it's an affront to rights guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, say it makes for a slippery slope.

McLellan said that she was open to a so-called sunset clause that would eliminate parts of the law after a set time period.

But Chretien, speaking to reporters following the conclusion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, eliminated the possibility that such a clause would be included.

"We don't know when terrorism will be over," he said.

"If you can guarantee that there will be no problem with terrorism in three years, I have no problem with a sunset clause. The problem will not necessarily disappear that easily."

He pointed out that the proposed law provides for a parliamentary review after three years of coming into effect.

Chretien maintained that the legislation does not contravene the charter, as some have suggested.

"There is a debate about that, but I'm satisfied that . . . the provisions that have been put in the bill are in conformity with the Charter of Rights."

The bill was one of several measures the government has introduced over the past two weeks in an effort to fight terrorism at home.

The government's security committee met at a retreat all day last weekend to discuss what other measures might be necessary.

The committee's chair, Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley, has said there may be a need to introduce a second omnibus bill related to terrorism.

Chretien said that if the decision is made soon that more changes are needed, they could be included in the bill now before the Commons.

But "there is no decision that has been made about another omnibus bill," he said.

McLellan has said that she expects court challenges to the legislation but believes that it will withstand such tests.

Gadhafi says America has the right to retaliate

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, once one of Washington's sworn enemies, said October 23 the United States had a right to retaliate for the September 11 attacks, but said he would not brand Osama bin Laden a terrorist before an international conference agreed a definition of "terrorism."

Moammar Gadhafi"We have to sit down at any level to define what is terrorism, without emotions ... otherwise terrorism will win."

"America has the right to retaliate with direct military action; this is the right of self-defense that doesn't need notification of the (U.N.) Security Council ... We don't blame America," he said.

The Libyan leader, however, said he didn't support U.S. strikes against Afghanistan.

"I'm neither with America nor with terrorism," he told Al-Jazeera satellite television in a live interview, the first to be given to the widely watched Qatari channel by an Arab leader since the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington.

Gadhafi was on the receiving end of America's wrath in 1986, when U.S. warplanes bombed his house, killing his adopted daughter, after two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman were killed in the bombing of a Berlin disco. Citing evidence of Libyan involvement, former President Ronald Reagan ordered retaliatory air strikes on two Libyan cities.

"If I had missiles, I would have hit America back the same night. America is now in Libya's position in 1986," Gadhafi said.

His 90-minute interview was on Al-Jazeera's most controversial program, "The Opposite Direction." The interview lasted for an hour and a half. He wore a loose African-style brown robe similar to those worn in West Africa.

He condemned the September 11 attacks as "horrifying and destructive," but said terrorism should be defined before he could "judge bin Laden or the Taliban (Afghanistan's ruling militia)."

Libya, like fellow Arab nations Sudan and Syria, are on the U.S. list of countries supporting terrorism.

FBI to broaden web wiretapping

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking to broaden considerably its ability to tap into Internet traffic in its quest to root out terrorists, going beyond even the new measures afforded in anti-terror legislation passed by the House on October 25, according to lawyers familiar with the FBI’s plans.

Stewart Baker, an attorney at the Washington D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson and a former general consul to National Security Agency, said the FBI has plans to change the architecture of the Internet and route traffic through central servers that it would be able to monitor e-mail more easily.

The plans goes well beyond the Carnivore e-mail-sniffing system which allows the FBI to search for and extract specific e-mails off the Internet and generated so much controversy among privacy advocates and civil libertarians before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“From the work I’ve been doing, I’ve seen the efforts the FBI has been making and it suggests that they are going to unveil this in the next few months,” Baker said of the plan.

FBI Spokesman Paul Bresson said he was unaware of any development in the e-mail surveillance arena that would require major architectural changes in the Internet, but acknowledged that such a plan is possible.

Any new efforts would “would be in compliance with wiretapping statutes,” Bresson said. “We would be remiss if we didn’t.”

Such a move might have been unthinkable before Sept. 11.

Last year, privacy groups and civil libertarians howled in protest when the FBI trotted out plans to start using the Carnivore system. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington was ready to go full rounds with the government in court over Carnivore, and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to take another look at its constitutionality.

Now, though, the country is asking for more, not less, law enforcement on the Internet, and even those who once complained are coming around.

“I have two minds on this,” says Fred Peterson, vice president of government affairs for the Xybernaut Corporation, which manufactures computer technology for military and law enforcement. The past six weeks have left little doubt in most peoples’ mind, he said, that new measures must be taken.

“I think that the threat has increased and while (FBI) demands were unreasonable at a time when the threat was less immediate and less fatal – it’s just not the same story anymore,” he said.

Others are still skeptical, though not as much.

“I don’t think (FBI) motives are bad, but I do think they’re using people’s current state of mind – they’re using it to their advantage,” said Mikal Condon, staff attorney for EPIC.

The new FBI plans would give the agency a technical backdoor to the networks of Internet service providers’ like AOL and Earthlink and Web hosting companies, Baker said. It would concentrate Internet traffic in several central locations where e-mail and other web activity could be wiretapped.

Baker said he expects the agency will approach the Internet companies on an individual basis to ask for their help in the endeavor.

But Jim Harper, staff counsel for privacy advocate Privacilla.org said the FBI may have a hard time convincing some companies to redesign the Internet on its behalf. “It’s not really surprising, but I would be shocked to see if it gets done,” he said. “Restructuring the Internet? I don’t think so.”

Others say the Internet companies will not put up much of a fight.

Sue Ashdown, executive director of the Washington-based American ISP Association, an Internet company trade group, said most Internet companies aren’t healthy enough financially to take on the government in court to protect their subscribers’ privacy rights. And no one, she says, wants to appear hostile to law enforcement right now.

“I know there are a lot of members in the association with feelings on both sides,” said Ashdown.

“In the current patriotic climate, enterprises of all types will likely play along with the FBI in order to avoid a public relations disaster,” said Gene Riccoboni, an Internet attorney with the Stamford, Connecticut-based Grimes & Battersby.

Putin signs key land code

Russia's president signed a long-awaited measure on October 26 that permits limited sales of land, a key development after a decade of efforts by Russia's leadership to ease Soviet-era land sale restrictions.

The new code will permit limited sales of non-agricultural land, affecting only three to 10 per cent of land in the country, according to official estimates. It left aside the sensitive issue of farmland.

Land purchases are currently regulated by complex laws and regulations approved by local legislatures. The absence of coherent land legislation has been a deterrent to foreign investors and slowed Russia's economic growth.

President Vladimir Putin lobbied hard for the two-chamber parliament to pass the land code, against heavy resistance from Communists and their allies. They allege the new code could open the way to Russia's destruction by putting its land in the hands of foreigners and criminals.

Most land remains government property, as it was during Soviet times when Communist ideology demanded that the state own the means of economic production.

Russia's 1993 constitution permits Russians to buy and sell land, but parliament had balked at passing legislation that would put that right into effect.

This time the government was able to muster a majority because unlike the era of Russia's first post-Soviet president, Boris Yeltsin, the Duma is now dominated by pro-government parties.

McCain calls for more ground troops

Sen. John McCain said October 28 that America must unleash "all the might of United States military power," including large numbers of ground troops, to prevail in Afghanistan. Bush administration officials said the Taliban is being weakened, but warned Americans must be prepared for a drawn-out conflict.

As the debate over military strikes intensified in Washington, U.S. attacks on the Afghan capital of Kabul killed at least 13 civilians, witnesses there said, and warplanes returned for a second wave of attacks late in the day. American bombs pounded targets in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar in the south, Herat in the west and Jalalabad in the east, said the Afghan Islamic Press, a private news agency.

Some 100 airborne Rangers and other special ground troops struck a Taliban-controlled airfield and a residence of a Taliban leader earlier this month, but McCain said that was not enough. He called for a "very, very significant" force large enough to capture and hold territory.

"I think what we're going to have to put in (is) numbers of forces that are capable of maintaining a base for a period of time, relatively short, so they can branch out and move into certain areas where we believe that the Taliban and al-Qaida's networks are located," the Arizona Republican said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"It's going to take a very big effort and probably casualties will be involved and it won't be accomplished through air power alone," he said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he agreed with McCain that large numbers of ground troops may be needed. And Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., said if President Bush "comes to the conclusion that it's going to take that or something like that in order to get these people and to get this network torn down, I would support it."

Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were noncommittal when asked about significant ground forces. "Let's not go there yet," Card said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Bush's 2000 rival for the GOP presidential nomination, has warned that undue restraint by the U.S. military and allies was emboldening Taliban fighters.

Considerations such as civilian deaths from U.S. bombing and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that begins in mid-November must be "secondary to the job at hand, which is to wipe out nests of terrorism," he said.

Card defended the intensity of the military attacks by the United States and Britain. "We're not holding back at all," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "We'll do what we have to do to win."

Rumsfeld indicated the military campaign would not stop for Ramadan, saying the Taliban themselves have fought during the religious holiday. "There is nothing in that religion that suggests that conflicts have to stop during Ramadan," he said.

McCain brushed aside concerns that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan could prove to be a quagmire, as Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, warned last week.

"The Vietnam War never had the wholehearted support of the American people, and in fact, as it went on, fewer and fewer Americans not only didn't support it but actively opposed it," he said. "I think Americans have been impacted in a dramatic way, and I think the American people's patience and their support is very deep and very permanent."

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