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proposal to postpone election if there's a terror attack

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  • Greg Cannon
    Exclusive: Election Day Worries Newsweek http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5411741/site/newsweek/ July 19 issue - American counter-terrorism officials, citing what
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 11, 2004
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      Exclusive: Election Day Worries
      Newsweek
      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5411741/site/newsweek/
      July 19 issue - American counter-terrorism officials,
      citing what they call "alarming" intelligence about a
      possible Qaeda strike inside the United States this
      fall, are reviewing a proposal that could allow for
      the postponement of the November presidential election
      in the event of such an attack, NEWSWEEK has learned.

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      The prospect that Al Qaeda might seek to disrupt the
      U.S. election was a major factor behind last week's
      terror warning by Homeland Security Secretary Tom
      Ridge. Ridge and other counterterrorism officials
      concede they have no intel about any specific plots.
      But the success of March's Madrid railway bombings in
      influencing the Spanish elections�as well as
      intercepted "chatter" among Qaeda operatives�has led
      analysts to conclude "they want to interfere with the
      elections," says one official.

      As a result, sources tell NEWSWEEK, Ridge's department
      last week asked the Justice Department's Office of
      Legal Counsel to analyze what legal steps would be
      needed to permit the postponement of the election were
      an attack to take place. Justice was specifically
      asked to review a recent letter to Ridge from DeForest
      B. Soaries Jr., chairman of the newly created U.S.
      Election Assistance Commission. Soaries noted that,
      while a primary election in New York on September 11,
      2001, was quickly suspended by that state's Board of
      Elections after the attacks that morning, "the federal
      government has no agency that has the statutory
      authority to cancel and reschedule a federal
      election." Soaries, a Bush appointee who two years ago
      was an unsuccessful GOP candidate for Congress, wants
      Ridge to seek emergency legislation from Congress
      empowering his agency to make such a call. Homeland
      officials say that as drastic as such proposals sound,
      they are taking them seriously�along with other
      possible contingency plans in the event of an
      election-eve or Election Day attack. "We are reviewing
      the issue to determine what steps need to be taken to
      secure the election," says Brian Roehrkasse, a
      Homeland spokesman.

      �Michael Isikoff
      � 2004 Newsweek, Inc.
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