President Bush has signed into law a series of measures giving the government new powers to fight terrorism. Authorities now have broader powers to monitor the Internet, e-mail, and cell phone communications.
The new law gives U.S. authorities the right to detain suspected terrorists for seven days without charges and makes warrants valid across local jurisdictions. It makes it easier for investigators to monitor e-mail and cell phone conversations while increasing controls on money laundering.
The new law gives longer prison sentences to people convicted of terrorism and stiffer penalties for those possessing biological weapons. President Bush stressed these new powers will be enforced with all the urgency of a nation at war. "Today we take an essential step in defeating terrorism while protecting the Constitutional rights of all Americans," he said. "With my signature, this law will give intelligence and law enforcement officials important new tools to fight a present danger."
Some critics of the law say it makes Americans more vulnerable to violations of individual privacy. The legislation passed easily in Congress though lawmakers recognized those concerns and pledged to review the measures in four years.
The president said bipartisan support for the bill showed that Americans are united in their resolve to stop those who want to harm the country. "The changes effective today will help counter a threat like no other our nation has ever faced," he added. "We've seen the enemy in the murder of thousands of innocent, unsuspecting people. They recognize no barrier of morality. They have no conscience. The terrorists can not be reasoned with."
President Bush said terrorists will be pursued, defeated, and brought to justice. He said the law gives authorities more power to disrupt terrorist networks and stop them before they strike.