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Chertoff mulls more comprehensive terror laws in wake of UK airplanes plot

[JURIST] US Department of Homeland Security [official website] Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] suggested Sunday that the US could benefit from revised anti-terror laws that allow for increased electronic surveillance of terror suspects. Chertoff, who also suggested that the US consider allowing increased detention of terror suspects while speaking on Fox News Sunday [podcast] and ABC's This Week [recorded video], cited last week's thwarted terror plot in Britain [JURIST report] as an example of wider surveillance powers that allowed British authorities to arrest over 20 people and prevent an imminent terrorist attack. British authorities were able to act quickly and "to operate based on fast-moving information," according to Chertoff. Chertoff said that US laws needed to be constantly reviewed in order to ensure that "they're helping us, not hindering us" and that "maximum flexibility" in monitoring suspects' communications and other transactions is necessary in order to disrupt future terror plots.

The public disclosure of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] last year prompted many lawmakers to question the legality of the warrantless wiretaps used to intercept communications of suspected terrorists when one party to the communication is outside the US. US Sen. Arlen Specter said last month that President Bush has agreed to sign [JURIST report] legislation authorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FJC backgrounder] to review the domestic spying program. AP has more.

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