Filner only area congressman to cast a vote against anti-terrorism bill

October 30, 2001|By SAM SCOTT, Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON (MNS) — The only area congressman to vote against a sweeping anti-terrorism law said Friday that he did so because the bill went too far.

"This went over the line," said Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego. "It's really an infringement on our freedoms."

Filner was one of 66 House members and the only one in the Imperial County/San Diego area to oppose the bill, which gives broad powers to law enforcement.

The House passed the bill with 357 representatives supporting it.

President Bush signed the bill into law Friday.

Among other things, the new law, a response to the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, expands law enforcement's ability to wiretap, detain certain aliens without charges and get search warrants.

Filner said he recognized the crucial need to strengthen law enforcement's ability to fight terrorism. He said he approved of some of the new powers, including allowing roving phone taps with which officials can monitor the calls of a suspect on any phone he uses instead of one particular line.


But Filner, who will be the Imperial Valley's congressman if re-elected next year, said the law gave the government too much power with too little oversight.

"They lowered the standards so low that basically any American can be wiretapped now," he said.

Supporters of the law said it balances the demands for even greater powers from the Bush administration with concerns for civil liberties.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-San Clemente, said the original version of the law would have allowed law enforcement agencies to detain illegal aliens suspected of terrorism indefinitely without filing charges. The final version limited such detention to seven days.

"The administration wanted more than they got," said Issa. "We negotiated what we thought was better and more balanced."

Reps. Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Escondido, Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and Susan Davis, D-San Diego, supported the bill.

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