First Criminal Charges Filed by Feds
Federal authorities filed the first criminal charges stemming from the terrorism investigation after finding three men in Michigan with airport diagrams and phony immigration documents, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. Fueled with new legal powers, agents expanded their efforts to find possible terrorist collaborators. The arrests in Detroit occurred after FBI agents raided a residence looking for one of the nearly 200 witnesses being sought in the investigation. Instead, says The Post, they found the three men and a cache of documents. The trio was charged Tuesday with fraud and misuse of visas, passports and other immigration documents. Attorney General John Ashcroft has also expanded the terrorism investigation to include U.S. attorneys in every city, vowing to wage a "concerted national assault." Aided by a federal grand jury in White Plains, N.Y., the investigation has detained 75 people for questioning and has four people under arrest as material witnesses. The government also announced a new policy giving investigators wide latitude in detaining the non-U.S. citizens whom it takes into custody on possible immigration violations in the terrorist probe. The new policy includes allowing authorities 48 hours, or even longer in cases of emergencies, to decide whether or not to charge an alien with status violations (the previous limit was 24 hours). The Justice Department also has drafted legislation that would allow the attorney general to arrest and deport suspected terrorists without presenting evidence in a court, according to The Post.
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