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Arrests Cast New Light on British Anti-terror Policies

London police announced Tuesday the arrest of a 25th suspect in the plot to bomb flights from the UK to the United States. Terrorism and law experts discuss the differences between U.S. and British anti-terror laws.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    President Bush today chose the National Counterterrorism Center, created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, as the backdrop to highlight his administration's work to protect the United States. He also used the occasion to praise the British effort last week to foil the airline plot.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: Because of the good work in Great Britain and because of the help of the people there at NCTC, we disrupted a terror plot, a plot where people were willing to kill innocent life to achieve political objectives.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Twenty five people have been arrested and one released in Britain, where the investigation continues. British intelligence reportedly kept suspects tied to the alleged plot under surveillance for months and did not move against them until Pakistani officials made several related arrests.

    The British success had Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff wondering if U.S. counter-terror measures should follow the British model.

  • MICHAEL CHERTOFF, Homeland Security Secretary:

    Well, I think certainly making sure that we have the ability to be as nimble as possible with our surveillance is very important. And frankly, their ability to hold people for a period of time gives them a tremendous advantage.

    Now, there are some legal restrictions here under the Constitution that they don't have, but their nimbleness and their flexibility are important tools we want to have here, as well.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The emphasis of U.S. counterterrorism efforts has appeared to be on stopping plots as soon as possible and not on the continued surveillance of suspects.

    When the first hints of a plot Attorney General Gonzales called "al-Qaida-inspired" surfaced in Miami in June, U.S. law enforcement moved quickly to arrest the seven people involved.

  • ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. Attorney General:

    You know, our philosophy here is that we try to identify plots in the earliest stages possible because we don't know what we don't know about a terrorism plot. And that, once we have sufficient information to move forward with a prosecution, that's what we do.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    However, Attorney General Gonzales has ordered a comparative review of U.S. and British counter-terror laws.