Clinton signs anti-terrorism bill


Praises bipartisan support

April 24, 1996
Web posted at: 4:00 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton signed legislation Wednesday that "strikes a mighty blow" against terrorism, giving the government many of the anti-terrorist powers he proposed a year ago after the Oklahoma City bombing. The law makes it easier for the United States to deport non-citizens suspected of terrorism links and bans fund-raising in the U.S. by terrorist groups.

President Clinton signing

Families of victims and survivors from the Oklahoma City blast and 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York looked on as Clinton signed the measure on the south lawn of the White House. "This is a good day because our police officers are now going to be better prepared to stop terrorists, our prosecutors better prepared to punish them and our people are going to be better protected from their designs," Clinton said.

Wiretap authority missing

The president praised the bipartisan support that led to passage of the bill, which provides $1 billion for anti-terrorism efforts. He avoided criticism of Congress for refusing to give the FBI expanded wiretap authority, as he had requested. "We don't want a police state," Sen. Don Nickles, R-Oklahoma, had said last week after the measure passed both houses of Congress. Nickles praised the bill overall.

Death row appeals limited


Some members of Congress criticized provisions of the measure that put limits on federal appeals by death row inmates and other prisoners. But Clinton said he welcomed a chance to stop "endless appeals" by "vicious criminals." (156K AIFF sound or 156K WAV sound) The bill also makes the death penalty available in some international terrorism cases and in cases in which a federal employee was killed on duty.

"America will never tolerate terrorism. America will never abide terrorists," Clinton said. "Wherever they come from, wherever they go, we will go after them."

Limited tracing of explosives

The president had wanted to make it easier for law enforcement to trace all explosives, including fertilizer bombs -- the kind used in Oklahoma City. Instead, the measure orders chemical tracing on plastic explosives only. (162K AIFF sound or 162K WAV sound) Clinton said he will push later for the elements Congress removed from his original proposal.

The signing comes one day after Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick revealed that the government was flooded with terrorist threats last Friday on the first anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. "I literally could not leave my desk because of all the threats that were pouring in, in the course of that day," she said. A number of federal buildings were closed or evacuated, she said.

As the result of a government report sent to Clinton six months after the Oklahoma City bombing, Gorelick estimated the government will spend about a billion dollars to increase security at federal facilities. She reported nearly 1,000 false threats against federal employees in the six-month period. "We wasted huge amounts of time and money and energy and anxiety in dealing with those threats," she said.

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