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Bill would keep intel center data secret page 2
Bill would protect workers in state intelligence-gathering agency


Date published: 2/2/2008

continued

Had the bill spoken only to documents related to terrorism investigations, Merritt said, the VPA would not have a problem with it.

But lawmakers argued that it's impossible to draw lines between criminal and terrorism investigations, because criminal investigations could lead law enforcement to terrorism groups.

"The subcommittee came down on the side of drawing a circle around this Fusion center, because the lines are not so clean-cut" between criminals and terrorists, Janis said.

A state police spokesman added that criminal organizations and terrorism organizations are "inextricably linked."

Henry County Commonwealth's Attorney Bob Bushnell testified that he was shocked that this wasn't law already.

"Nothing can more effectively derail and destroy an investigation than for the targets of the investigation to learn of the fact of the investigation and the details thereof," Bushnell said. "A vote against this bill is a vote for the public's right to know, but unfortunately the public includes bad guys. The bad guys can take huge advantage of this. It's probably the most important bill on the committee's docket and I hope you report it."

The committee approved the bill unanimously, but it will go next to the House Appropriations Committee.

Chelyen Davis: 804/782-9362
Email: cdavis@freelancestar.com


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