U.S. Homeland security chief Michael Chertoff has called for a review of domestic antiterrorism laws, saying the U.S. might benefit from the more aggressive surveillance and arrest powers used by British authorities last week to thwart an alleged plot to bomb airliners, the Boston Globe reports. Chertoff said no American links to the London plot have been uncovered, but added that the top priority for U.S. counterterrorism officials is to identify any possible connection between the suspects in Britain and Pakistan and individuals in the United States.
At a time when Congress is questioning the scope of the Bush administration’s powers — including a controversial program to listen to domestic phone calls without a warrant — Chertoff said more powers to track potential terrorists inside the U.S. may be needed. The British “have an easier time getting electronic surveillance, and they also can detain people for up to, I think, 28 days without charging them,” Chertoff said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And those are very useful tools when you’re trying to intercept an ongoing and very dynamic plot when you may not have collected all the evidence.” Responded Rep. Edward Markey (D-Ma.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee: “The Bush administration wants to poke holes in the Constitution instead of plugging holes in our homeland security system.”