Feds bound into use of spy powers

New York Times Nov. 24, 2002

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department, moving quickly to use its expanded powers for spying on possible terrorists, plans to assign federal lawyers to terrorism task forces to help secure secret warrants against suspects.

The deployments, along with other potential changes, are seen as a crucial first step in breaking down the wall between intelligence gathering and law enforcement, officials said.

The moves grow from last week's court ruling that validated the Justice Department's broad surveillance powers under the Patriot Act, passed last year.

"Who you can tap is no different now than it ever was," a Justice Department official said.

Even so, the official said: "In practical terms, on a scale of 1 to 10, this decision is about an 11 for us."

Federal law enforcement officials said the appellate decision gave prosecutors clear authority to actively engage in the process for the first time and use information from intelligence cases in prosecutions.

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