Seattle - November 21, 2001 - Governor Gary Locke and Attorney General Christine Gregoire, along with representatives of state law enforcement and prosecutors’ organizations, announced proposed joint legislation Wednesday which would provide tough, comprehensive new tools to fight terrorism.
Audio message from Attorney General Christine Gregoire:
The proposed legislation would fill gaps in state law that became apparent after the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., Gregoire said.
"These revised laws put terrorism in our most serious category of crime with the most severe penalties our society can impose," said Locke.
Locke and Gregoire said they are particularly concerned about balancing the horror of terrorism with our civil liberties, adding that compromising freedoms is not a substitute for a terror-free society.
"My goal when we started work on this legislation was to send a message that Washington will not be a home for terrorists; Washington will not be a friend to terrorists and Washington will not be a money conduit for terrorists," Gregoire said.
The Attorney General said the new legislation will create a "seamless partnership" among state, federal and local authorities and will bolster the national effort to combat terrorism.
The proposal unveiled Wednesday creates the new felony crime of terrorism in Washington’s criminal code, making it punishable by the state’s toughest penalties. A deadly act of terrorism would be subject to the death penalty.
Other aspects of the proposal include provisions to:
- Protect public water systems;
- Allow the state to freeze or seize assets used by terrorists;
- Expand money laundering laws to include assets of terrorists;
- Make it a crime to knowingly provide financial support to terrorist organizations;
- Expand wiretapping admissibility in state courts;
- Require background checks for flight school students;
- Create new penalties for price gouging in response to public fears during an emergency.
"We need to address this new threat, these new crimes that are more far-reaching and devastating than anything addressed in the current criminal code," said Russ Hauge, Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney and Legislative Chair of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. "The Association and individual prosecutors across the state look forward to supporting and cooperating in this effort."
Larry Erickson, Executive Director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, said local law enforcement officials will have a significant role in preventing future acts of terrorism.
"These laws would give us the tools to work more effectively with federal agencies to uncover terrorist plots before they are carried out," Erickson said. "Local law enforcement is always the first line of defense against criminal activity and this strengthens that line dramatically."
The proposal would send a strong message that Washington will not be a haven for terrorists or those who support them, Gregoire said.