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The New York Legislature Monday convened an extraordinary session where lawmakers overwhelmingly enacted a broad anti-terrorism package that creates six new penal law offenses, expands the scope of the death penalty and loosens restrictions on eavesdropping. Gov. George Pataki, who had proposed the anti-terrorism measure in June, summoned the Legislature back to Albany to reconsider his proposal in light of last week’s terrorist attacks against the United States. With the strikes against New York City and Washington, legislation that just one week ago had no chance of passing was overwhelmingly and enthusiastically approved. The justification for the package was described in detailed “legislative findings” attached to the bill. In the bill, the Legislature condemned the “barbaric attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,” and observed that those incidents followed several others: the bombings of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, the shooting atop the Empire State Building in 1997, the 1994 murder of Ari Halberstam on the Brooklyn Bridge and the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center. Lawmakers cited a need for state laws to facilitate the prosecution of terrorists in state courts, and pointed to several shortfalls in existing laws. For instance, until Monday, there was no state criminal penalty for those who provide resources to terrorists, no state criminal laws specifically targeting those who make terrorist threats and no state criminal laws directly addressing those who hinder the prosecution of terrorists. Additionally, the death penalty statute did not cover an execution orchestrated for purposes of advancing a terrorist cause. Monday, all that changed. The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 establishes six new offenses under �490 of the Penal Law, defined as follows: � Crime of terrorism (490.25) — An individual is guilty of this crime when he or she commits a “specified offense” with the intent of achieving any of three goals: to intimidate a civilian population, to influence a policy of a governmental unit or to affect the conduct of a unit of government. (A “specified offense” is defined as any class A felony except a drug crime, any violent felony, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree criminal tampering or an attempt or conspiracy to commit a specified offense.) For penalty purposes, when the specified offense is a class B, C, D or E felony, the punishment is elevated by one category. In other words, a person who commits first-degree assault, which is a class B violent felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison, with the intent to intimidate a civilian population would be subject to a class A-1 felony sentence of life imprisonment. � Making a terrorist threat (490.20) — This new class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison, is committed when someone threatens the crime of terrorism. Under the bill, it “shall be no defense to a prosecution … that the defendant did not have the intent or capability of committing the specified offense.” � Soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism in the first degree (490.15) — A class C violent felony carrying a 15-year term, this offense is committed when a person provides resources or support worth more than $1,000 with the intent that the aid will be used to further a terrorist activity or conceal an act of terrorism. � Soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism in the second degree (490.10) — The only difference between this and the first-degree version is that there is no dollar amount stated. A person is guilty of this crime, a class D violent felony punishable by up to seven years, when he or she provides aid at any level. � Hindering prosecution of terrorism in the first degree (490.35) — This class B violent felony offense is committed when a person renders assistance to a person who has committed a terrorist act that results in death. Conviction requires proof that the accused knew or believed that the person being assisted was engaged in an act of terrorism. It carries a 25-year sentence. � Hindering prosecution of terrorism in the second degree (490.30) — A class C violent felony offense, this crime is committed when a person knowingly renders assistance to a person who has committed a terrorist act. It is punishable by a sentence of up to 15 years. DEATH PENALTY AMENDED In addition, the Legislature amended the death penalty statute to elevate to capital status a murder committed in furtherance of terrorist activity. It also expanded the designated offenses that enable law enforcement authorities to obtain eavesdropping or video surveillance warrants. Further, it authorized New York’s immediate participation in the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which creates a mutual partnership with other states to provide aid and assistance in times of emergency. State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, R-Brunswick, said the bills approved Monday are extraordinarily sweeping and represent an obvious over-reaction to the occurrences of last week. He also said they are entirely appropriate given the circumstances. “There is a natural concern by some people that you don’t want to over-react and go too far in dealing with people’s civil liberties,” Bruno told a hastily assembled press conference outside his office. “But from my point of view, now is the time that if we over-react, we over-react in terms of protecting our potential victims and innocent people, and not worry in the least about coddling potential criminals.” FEW DISSENTERS Only one member of the upper house, Sen. Thomas Duane, D-Manhattan, voted against the measure. Duane said during floor debate that he opposes capital punishment and that the other provisions are matters better left to federal authorities. “The federal government already has laws which would bring the death penalty to those who utilize weapons of mass destruction,” Duane said. “I would like, though, to ensure that we do all we can to ease the suffering of New Yorkers and in the weeks ahead I would urge that we continue to come here and pass legislation to achieve this goal.” The Republican-controlled Senate had passed most of the initiatives earlier this year, with an effective date in November. A new vote was needed to make the measures immediately effective. The Democratic Assembly had previously declined to consider the anti-terrorism package, but the political dynamics have quite obviously changed in the past several days. Monday, the Assembly passed the measure by a 131-5 margin. Voting against were Assembly members Barbara M. Clark, D-Queens; Richard N. Gottfried, D-Manhattan; Susan V. John, D-Rochester; Martin A. Luster, D-Ithaca; and Edward C. Sullivan, D-Manhattan. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, termed the anti-terrorism bill “overkill,” expressed doubt that it would actually be utilized and implied that its passage was largely symbolic. “I think it was an important message that the government here will lay aside political differences that we may have and do what we are asked to do,” Silver said. “Will there be a prosecution under the state terrorist act? I don’t think so. However, I think it is important that this Legislature responded, that this Legislature came together.” COST OF REBUILDING Sen. Bruno said the cost of rebuilding lower Manhattan and assisting victims will be staggering, clearly affecting the state budget; last Thursday, legislators approved spending of up to $5.5 billion in state and federal money on relief efforts. It is unclear if the Legislature will appropriate funding for various legal services that were not included in the bare-bones budget passed earlier this summer, or if it will attempt to resolve the continuing crisis over assigned counsel rates. Silver said reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws and increasing assigned counsel rates remain high priorities in the Assembly, but suggested that with the current crisis the Legislature is in “triage mode” where its focus is on stabilizing the immediate crisis. “We will consider the ordinary course of business after we deal with the crisis,” Silver said. FOR THE DEFENSE Meanwhile, some say that the thought of bringing the perpetrators of last week’s attack to a court of law, affording them all the due process and equal protection we have to offer and showing the entire world about American justice — and with court-assigned counsel — could be the realization of a civil libertarian ideal. And as unlikely as that scenario may be, it is grist for debate on how exactly such a prosecution might take place and the implications for attorneys who would take part. Alexander Bunin, federal defender in the Northern District of New York, observed that there are a wide variety of criminal sanctions that could be brought under U.S. law, and said he would not hesitate to represent even Osama bin Laden if assigned by a court to do so. “There is nothing I can think about in my past or the events that would prevent me from competently representing him,” Bunin said, adding that his office does not select its clients. “If I had lost someone close to me, I don’t think it would be a good idea. I have represented some folks who have done some terrible things and I try not to let my personal feelings [interfere].” Bunin said that given the United States’ reluctance to defer to world court jurisdiction, he is skeptical about the possibility of a Nuremberg-type tribunal to deal with the terrorists. Albany defense attorney Terence L. Kindlon, a former Marine who carries a metal plate in his head from injuries suffered when he was wounded in Vietnam, also said he could represent bin Laden or his associates. Kindlon, of Kindlon Shanks Higgins, said that if he were to undertake such an unpopular cause he would expect the American people to understand. “Theoretically, it could be a dangerous thing to do,” Kindlon acknowledged. “But I think that everybody in America, if they sat back and thought about it, would say, ‘We’ll really fix this bastard. We’ll give him due process and show him that our democracy transcends his terrorism.’ “

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