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Friday, 7 December, 2001, 01:22 GMT
US defends anti-terror measures
Attorney General John Ashcroft testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee
Mr Ashcroft showed an 'al-Qaeda training manual'
United States Attorney General John Ashcroft has accused critics of new anti-terror measures of "aiding terrorists" and "eroding national unity".

Mr Ashcroft was responding to concerns expressed by Democrats and civil liberties groups that measures including military tribunals, wiretapping and detentions may go too far.

Senator Edward Kennedy warned that military courts "present enormous potential for abuse".

US Senator Ted Kennedy
Mr Kennedy voiced Democrats' fears
The debate intensified as the US announced a list of 39 suspected terrorist organisations whose members will not be allowed to enter the country.

Some of the groups included on the State Department's "Terrorist Exclusion List" are accused of having links to Osama Bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the 11 September terror attacks on the US.

But the list also includes such groups as the Continuity IRA, the Japanese Red Army, and African militias such as the Interahamwe in Rwanda and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone.

No entry

Members of the banned groups will be denied visas - or deported if they are already in the US - under the so-called USA Patriot Act.

Selected list of banned groups
Continuity IRA
Japanese Red Army
Islamic Army of Aden
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
Red Hand Defenders
Congress passed the act in October.

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said in a statement that the new list was "by no means the last" such list the US would produce.

Mr Ashcroft defended the Justice Department's measures in a hearing before the Senate judiciary committee on Thursday.

Patrick Leahy, who chairs the committee, said congressional oversight was necessary "to make sure that our government has good reason before snooping into our bank records, our tax returns or our e-mails".

The head of the American Bar Association, Robert Hirshon, compared proposed military courts to the justice systems of the Taleban and Iraq.

"This is not what America stands for," he said in a speech in Atlanta.

Targeted measures

Mr Ashcroft said the administration's policies were carefully considered and would only apply to "terrorists", who, he said, "infiltrate our communities, plotting, planning and waiting to kill again".

The State Department blacklist was made in co-operation with Mr Ashcroft.

Mr Ashcroft asked for 46 groups to be banned.

It is not clear what groups the State Department declined to include on its list of 39 or why.

Many of the groups on the list were already subject to financial penalties by virtue of being on other US lists of suspected terrorist organisations.

See also:

31 Oct 01 | Americas
US to bar 'terrorist' immigrants
31 Oct 01 | Americas
America on edge
12 Oct 01 | Business
US tightens 'terror cash' laws
24 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush calls halt to terror funding
07 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Anti-terror showdown looms
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