The president used a speech on the eve of the second anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks to call for a significant increase in law enforcement powers to tackle terrorism.
The three-point plan would give federal agents broad new powers to subpoena information and private records without first getting approval from a judge.
The President also wants to make it tougher for suspected terrorists to be freed on bail and to introduce the death penalty for crimes such as terrorist fundraising. In a speech to the FBI training academy at Quantico, Virginia, he said that “unreasonable obstacles” in the law were impeding the war against terrorism.
Critics have dubbed the plan the patriot act II, a sequel to the act giving new powers to investigators that was introduced shortly after the 2001 attacks.
But the Bush administration faces a tough time selling the enhanced powers to Congress, which is in a different mood to the one that hung over Washington in the autumn of 2001.
The proposals, which the attorney general, John Ashcroft, has been pushing in a roadshow across the country, have met with opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.
Democratic representative John Conyers Jr from Michigan said: “Removing judges from providing any check or balance on John Aschcroft’s subpoenas does not make us safer, it only makes us less free.
Pennsylvania Republican senator, Arlen Specter, told the New York Times that he supported the expanded threat of the death penalty, but was unsettled by the other elements of the plan. He said he wanted hearings on the strengthening of subpoena powers “because I’m concerned that it may be too sweeping”. On the presumption against allowing bail for suspected terrorists, he said: “The justice department has gone too far. You have to have a reason to detain.”