Murray Announces Senate Passage of Anti-Terrorism Bill

Oct 25 2001

Bill to boost Northern Border security passes Senate by vote of 98-1

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today joined her Senate colleagues in voting in favor of strong anti-terrorism legislation. The "Unite and Strengthen America (USA) Act" would broaden the investigative powers of law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies to help ensure the safety and security of American citizens. The legislation would also triple the number of INS, Border Patrol and Customs Service inspectors at the Northern Border. The bill will now be sent to President Bush to sign into law.

"The tragic events of September 11th not only shook our nation, but uncovered serious holes in our investigative and intelligence gathering systems," Senator Murray said. "The strong anti-terrorism legislation passed today by the Senate will provide our law enforcement and intelligence agencies with the tools they need to investigate and apprehend suspected terrorists."

One of the most important provisions of the Counter-Terrorism bill is the strengthening of security measures at the Northern Border, an issue Senator Murray has been working on since entering the Senate nine years ago.

Murray included language in the FY 2001 Commerce, Justice and Judiciary Appropriations bill requiring that 25 percent of all new INS, Border Patrol, and inspection staff be deployed to the Northern Border. She also won an earmark of $25 million for new Customs Service staffing at the Northern Border in the FY 2001 Treasury and General Government Appropriations bill.

The Anti-Terrorism bill passed today by the Senate will help tighten security while still allowing commerce to flow efficiently along the Northern Border. The USA act authorizes tripling INS, Border Patrol and Customs Service inspectors at the Northern Border and includes $100 million for INS and Customs equipment and technology to monitor security.

"Even before September 11th, I was working with my colleagues to address the problems at the Northern Border. This anti-terrorism bill continues the progress," Murray said. "Now we need to make sure the funds are there to hire new agents. Agents are essential to protecting our citizens from those who mean to do us harm."

In December of 1999 Ahmed Ressam crossed into the U.S. via the Northern Border with 100 pounds of bomb-making materials. His intent was to blow up the Los Angeles Airport. Ressam was caught thanks to the work of a well-trained customs agent.

"It wasn't computers or hi-tech wizardry that caught Ahmed Ressam at the border - it was the vigilance and judgment of a well-trained customs agent," Murray said.

Senator Murray was pleased that the Senate bill included a "Sunset Provision" indicating that many of the expanded investigative powers being given to intelligence officials will expire within four years.

"The anti-terrorism legislation passed today by the Senate is intended to strengthen our security. While we need to work harder to ensure our security, we must also take care to protect our hard-won civil liberties as we implement this new law," Murray said.