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Investigation: Worries over civil rights

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Attorney General John Ashcroft speaking at a recent news conference.  


As the U.S. investigation into the September 11 attacks continues, concern is being expressed by attorneys about the possible violation of fundamental U.S. civil rights for those who have been arrested and detained.

Meanwhile, a man whom the FBI has been investigating for possible ties to the September hijackers pleaded not guilty to unrelated charges Monday at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

And in Mississippi, crew members who were aboard a towboat when a crop-duster sprayed it with an unknown substance have reported no health problems but were given an antibiotic as a precaution, health officials said.


Lawyers say the U.S. government will not say which people are being held or what the charges might be. In some cases, attorneys and legal analysts said, the usual rules governing detentions have been altered or even suspended. (Full story)

Concerns are being expressed primarily for people detained or arrested who are of Middle Eastern ethnicity. The government has thrown an unprecedented shroud of secrecy over the arrests and won gag orders barring most defense attorneys from even disclosing their clients' names.

In Virginia, Judge Claude Hilton set a trial date of December 4 for Khalid al Draibi, who remains in custody without bond. Al Draibi was arrested near Dulles International Airport the day of the attacks and was found to have flight manuals in his vehicle. He is charged with making false statements on a visa application, and claiming to be a U.S. citizen at the time of his arrest. (Full story)

On the courthouse steps after the hearing, attorney Drew Hutcheson told reporters his client did not know any of the hijackers. The lawyer said al Draibi has passed an FBI polygraph test he believes authenticates that he has no connection to the attackers and knows of no other plans for an attacks on the U.S.

In Mississippi, the towboat's skipper reported that the low-flying plane sprayed the towboat and barges at the end of last week near the city of Rosedale, then circled around and sprayed a pleasure craft. Officials were still searching for the pleasure boat.(Full story)

"This was a deliberate act by a crop-duster -- this was no accident," said Kent Buckley of the Bolivar County Emergency Management Agency. Buckley said officials suspect the sprayed substance was sodium chlorate, used to defoliate cotton crops. Buckley said that sodium chlorate is similar to salt water and is not dangerous.

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  •  Impact

Attack on America
 CNN NewsPass Video 
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Report cites warnings before 9/11
Timeline: Who Knew What and When?
Interactive: Terror Investigation
Terror Warnings System
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In-Depth: America Remembers
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In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk

CNN's Lisa Barron reports that since the September 11 attacks more companies are verifying credentials of potential business partners (October 21)

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What clues about the September 11 attacks have U.S. investogators learned from the hundreds of arrests made?

How will the expansion of law-enforcement powers affect Americans' civil liberties? Click here for more.

How long can suspects be held, and on what charges are they being held? Click here for more.

How are people identified as suspected terrorists communicating with each other? Click here for more.

How are law-enforcement authorities using technology such as encryption tools to hunt terrorists? Click here for more.

What groups are U.S. investigators focusing on, and what are their aims? Click here for more.

How would law-enforcement authorities go after financial assets of people identified as terrorists? Click here for more.


George W. Bush: U.S. president

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state Click here for more

Condoleezza Rice: National security adviser Click here for more

John Ashcroft: U.S. attorney general

Robert Mueller: FBI director Click here for more

George Tenet: CIA director. Click here for more

Osama bin Laden: U.S. authorities have named bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi exile living in Afghanistan, as the prime suspect in masterminding the September 11 attacks. Click here for more


Information gained from the investigation could lead to fundamental changes in U.S. security and intelligence systems, as well as surveillance laws.


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