Ill. Allows Executions for Terrorism

Death Penalty
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Illinois lawmakers overrode the governor's veto and voted unanimously Thursday to make terrorism a death penalty offense.

The bill, passed 55-0 by the Senate, also gave law enforcement new tools to fight terrorism. The House previously overrode Gov. George Ryan's veto; with the Senate vote Thursday, the bill became law.

Ryan had objected to the bill because it expanded the death penalty before lawmakers could consider overhauling the state's capital punishment system. Ryan suspended executions in Illinois nearly three years ago, after 13 people on death row were found to have been wrongly convicted.

Using his veto power, Ryan revised the bill to require a meticulous court review of each death penalty case, bar executions of the retarded and videotape murder interrogations.

But lawmakers of both parties decided that death-penalty reforms should be debated separately.

The new crime-fighting powers contained in the bill include more power to obtain search warrants and bug telephones to investigate suspected terrorists. The law also makes it a felony to take a gun on an airplane and lets the attorney general freeze terrorists' assets.

Republican Sen. Peter Roskam, the bill's sponsor, said the law sends a clear message about the consequences of terrorism.

``This is a situation where you want no ambiguity, where you want all bases covered,'' he said.