Attorney General John Ashcroft has warned that terrorists won't be able to hide behind religious or political protections.
He said "People who hijack a religion and make out of it an implement of war will not be free from our interest." He suggested that federal agents could monitor political or religious groups despite First Amendment protections if the groups are suspected of terrorism.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said he might support the use of secret military tribunals to try terrorists. He said "With regard to trying a Taliban or terrorist or people involved in terrorist activity, clearly something like that might have merit."
At a Senate hearing this week, Mr. Ashcroft will address criticism by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans concerned that the new legal tactics will erode civil liberties.
Appearing on the Sunday talk shows, Mr. Ashcroft said "We will respect the rights of political freedom and religious freedom, and we are deeply committed to that. But for so-called terrorists to gather over themselves some robe of clericism ... and claim immunity from being observed, people who hijack a religion and make out of it an implement of war will not be free from our interest."
Mr. Ashcroft told "Fox News Sunday" that military tribunals would be limited to non-US citizens and would be not be for just normal criminal activity, but war crimes.
Congressman Bob Barr, who is a former federal prosecutor, said "I'm not worried about tribunals, for example, overseas, but domestically we have to abide by the Bill of Rights."
Mr. Ashcroft said he also wants military helicopters to patrol the 4,000-mile Canadian border.
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