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Ashcroft does not foresee FBI taking over sniper probe

"I believe that we are operating appropriately and effectively in the current setting," Ashcroft said.

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TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday he knows of "no additional value" the FBI could bring to the D.C.-area sniper investigation by taking it over, but he did not rule out the possibility.

Since October 2, the sniper has managed to avoid capture while killing nine people and wounding three others in various jurisdictions within 90 miles of Washington, D.C. -- both in Maryland and Virginia.

The deadly spree has prompted calls from some quarters that the FBI unify the investigation under its umbrella.

"From the outset the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal authorities have provided virtually all the resources that would be necessary and appropriate and could be used effectively," Ashcroft said at a Tokyo news conference.

"I believe that we are operating appropriately and effectively in the current setting. We know of no additional value that can be brought to the investigation that we are not providing," he said. "But we are always willing to consider how we might better move this investigation toward a successful conclusion."

The FBI is assisting in the investigation by helping with the profiling of the shooter or shooters, placing agents in command posts in Montgomery County, Maryland, and other sites and providing helicopter support.

The agency is also providing assistance with the "rapid start program," which is a computer program used to track, correlate and prioritize hundreds of leads. The FBI is also offering agents as requested to follow leads and has offered other assistance from local field offices and labs as needed.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is also providing ballistics help.

In addition, in a move that has been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Pentagon has deployed Army RC7 and U21 surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to assist in the sniper hunt.

The all-weather aircraft -- spy planes, essentially -- are small, fixed-wing airplanes packed with advanced technology, including sensors.

Troops will operate the planes and equipment and point out potential targets to local law enforcement authorities, who will request their use as needed.

Ashcroft met in Japan with top Cabinet officials, including Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama and Foreign Minster Yoriko Kawaguchi, as Washington and Tokyo coordinate anti-terror efforts.



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